Spring ball one week away

WITH <b>CHRIS HURD</b> fully recovered from knee surgery and young <b>Alex Brink</b> developing at a brisk rate, you'll have to forgive <b>Josh Swogger</b> if he ignores Satchel Paige's old bromide about never looking back because someone may be gaining on you.

Indeed, when Washington State opens the first of 14 spring practices a week from now, on March 23, you can bet all eyes will be on the quarterbacks.

For the first time in ages, the signal calling duties at Quarterback U are up for grabs. Given their relative youth, the winner of it all may be stamping a ticket for 22 starts -- or more. Hurd is a junior, Swogger a sophomore and Brink a freshman.

But make no mistake, on the strength of Swogger's late-season stint at center stage, in which he completed more than half his passes subbing for injured Matt Kegel, he's considered No. 1 coming into the spring.

"Swogs learned under fire and gained tremendous experience that Chris and Alex don't have, so you have to consider him No. 1 right now, but it'll be a tight battle this spring," says WSU offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller.

Swogger (6-5, 240) played in nine games a year ago, with the bulk of action coming in the final five games of the regular season. He completed 41 of 81 passes for 548 yards, one TD and five interceptions.

Levenseller says all three of his QBs have strong arms, with Swogger's the strongest. All have good mobility as well, with Brinks the most escapable and Hurd not far behind.

As for Hurd (6-2, 225), who was Jason Gesser's backup in 2002 but missed all of 2003 with a congenital knee problem, Levenseller says he's back to full health and moving well. Bill Doba called his progress shocking.

And Brink? "I have this vision of going into Eugene and beating the Ducks with Alex leading the way," says Levenseller, noting that Brink hails from Eugene's Sheldon High, where he was teammates with the son of Oregon coach Mike Belotti. Brink is up to 6-2, 205.

Spring drills will conclude with the annual Crimson & Gray Game on April 17 at 1 p.m.

The Cougars, coming off a 10-3 season capped by a 28-20 victory over Texas in the Holiday Bowl, will practice Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays with Saturday morning scrimmages for the first three weeks. The final week will not include a Thursday session.
WSU'S baseball game with USC scheduled for April 17 has been moved to 3 p.m. in an effort to accommodate fans wishing to attend the Crimson & Gray Game and the second game of the Cougar-Trojan series in Pullman.


March 23: Practice 3:30-5:30 p.m.
March 25: Practice 3:30-5:30 p.m.
March 26: Practice 3:30-5:30 p.m.
March 27: Practice 9 a.m.

March 30: Practice 3:30-5:30 p.m.
April 1: Practice 3:30-5:30 p.m.
April 2: Practice 3:30-5:30 p.m.
April 3: Scrimmage 9 a.m.

April 6: Practice 3:30-5:30 p.m.
April 8: Practice 3:30-5:30 p.m.
April 9: Practice 3:30-5:30 p.m.
April 10: Scrimmage 9 a.m.

April 13: Practice 3:30-5:30 p.m.
April 16: Practice 3:30-5:30 p.m.
April 17: Crimson & Gray Game 1 p.m. Kickoff

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