Spring Ball Day 1: Cougs see 'Moore' in Murray

PULLMAN — Most of the stars from Washington State's 2003 Holiday Bowl championship team are gone now, leaving more questions than answers for coach Bill Doba and his staff on the opening day of spring ball, Tuesday. Yet it appears they may have found an answer for the departure of Sammy Moore -- last season's big play man -- in JC transfer Tramaine Murray.

Doba says the junior redshirt will be a fun player to watch. And with the loss of the top three Cougar pass-catchers from '03, chances are we'll be watching a lot of him. The coach expects big things from Murray, as a receiver and as the team's No. 1 punt and kick returner.

He'll need to play big to fill Moore's shoes. Moore, a Holiday Bowl MVP, was the third leading scorer last season and led the Cougs in all-purpose yards, averaging over 127 hashes per game.

Murray transferred from Ventura College last year but was hampered with injuries and forced to redshirt, a blessing in disguise for the 2004 Cougars--especially with the early departure of Devard Darling to the NFL draft.

The 5-10, 175 pounder runs a blazing 4.33 40 and has good hands. He caught 35 passes for 671 yards and seven touchdowns at Ventura in '02. He was recruited out of high school by Kansas State, San Diego State and UNLV.

With Jason Hill, Chris Jordan, and Cody Boyd out most or all of spring ball with injuries, Murray will have a good opportunity to prove himself. He started off doing just that Tuesday, having a solid workout and making a sweet grab in traffic during receiving drills that had teammates cheering.

Fellow receivers—junior Marty Martin and senior Trandon Harvey—also performed exceptionally well during the maiden practice of the 2004 campaign.

Both Doba and quarterbacks coach Timm Rosenbach told Cougfan.com there is no clear No. 1 at QB—although noting sophomore QB Josh Swogger has the advantage of game experience over junior Chris Hurd and freshman Alex Brink — but they would like to have one by the end of spring.

"If you have three No. 1 quarterbacks, you don't have a No. 1 quarterback" Doba said.

Swogger told CF.C he felt like he "turned a corner" last year, with his extensive playing time against UCLA, Arizona State, and Washington and said he takes practice much more seriously now, treating every rep like a game-time situation.

During Tuesday's practice, Swogger looked sharp. He had a nice zip on his short throws and good touch on the longer ones.

While Hurd may not have looked as sharp as Swogger during the two-hour practice, he did make some nice throws and his rehabbed knee didn't appear to bother him at all.

Brink appears to have added quite a bit of muscle since last season, but struggled some with accuracy on Tuesday.

Offensive line coach George Yarno said he is impressed how well the hosses worked over winter. Right now he wants them to gel as a group and by the end of spring have nine or so solid guys that will see plenty of game action. Senior tackle Calvin Armstrong said the team had worked hard all winter and they want to come out and get some unity as a team with some of the younger linemen.

Butkus Award candidate Will Derting is being moved to middle linebacker for the 2004 season. Doba said he might not be the prototype guy at 6-0, 237 pounds, but you can't get away from him. Plus his leadership and experience will make him a force in the middle.

Doba said the defensive line will be an interesting group to watch develop. Defensive end Adam Braidwood has been in the shadow of D.D. Acholonu and Isaac Brown, but coaches and players are convinced it's his time to shine. Noting that a look down the depth chart reveals a lot of unknowns, Doba commented, "You're gonna find out who these guys are."

Before practice sophomore safety Eric Frampton was trying to make sure Assistant Sports Information Director Jason Hickman would tell the EA Sports people to give him good ratings in the upcoming NCAA Football 2005 video game.

RB Chris Bruhn looks to have recovered from off-season hernia surgery.

TE Cody Boyd sat out of drills but he did workout on his own during practice.

When asked what he was looking forward to most about the first spring practice, Doba replied, "It's nice to get out of the office."

The Cougars' second practice will take place on Thursday at 3:30 pm.

Chris Wolpert recently began an internship at Cougfan.com. He is a junior from Tacoma, who graduated from Stadium High School. Wolpert is very involved with his fraternity and works part-time in addition to his internship.

Cougfan Top Stories