Spring Ball Day 4: Bruhn powers through

PULLMAN--It didn't take too long for Washington State running back <b>Chris Bruhn</b> to make his mark on the Cougar football record book. In his first game ever as a Cougar, last year against Idaho, he ran for 118 yards on nine carries. His 13.1 yards per carry against the Vandals that day supplanted <b>Bernard Jackson</b> at No. 2 on WSU's all-time single-game list.

But it was defenders who Bruhn left his mark on Saturday in WSU's first scrimmage of the 2004 campaign. The senior rushed nine times for 69 yards. Bull-rushed, that is, as most of those nine runs went over or through a Cougar defender.

Bruhn—the Cougs' second leading rusher in 2003 with 353 yards despite a lingering injury—was at his bruising best on the scrimmage's lone offensive touchdown drive, crashing his way for over 10 yards on each of his three carries.

But the day got even brighter for Cougar running backs coach Kelly Skipper. Like Bruhn, junior back Allen Thompson showed a good combination of power and speed, tallying 32 yards on just three carries.

Thompson scored the day's only offensive touchdown, a 13-yard run up the middle, carrying would-be tacklers along for the ride. On the prior play, the 5-10, 205 pounder took the skin 17 yards, bulldozing defenders in a "Bo Jackson versus Brian Bosworth" fashion.

Sophomore Josh Swogger started the scrimmage strong, connecting on two of three passes on the opening drive before settling on a Graham Siderius field goal, but finished just five of 13 for 35 yards.

The second team offense was helmed by Chris Hurd. The junior hit on a mere three of his eight pass attempts for six yards, but looked poised under heavy defensive pressure.

Freshman Alex Brink was two of three for seven yards and threw the day's only interception, to sophomore linebacker Brian Hall. Redshirt freshman Mike Reilly, a walk-on for Kalispell, Mont., led all Cougar passers, completing seven of 11 for 37 yards.

Coach Bill Doba remained relatively tight-lipped on the subject of quarterbacks, reminding everyone there is still plenty of time left this spring.

Rain and cold weather Saturday forced the Cougars to have their first scrimmage of the year at the indoor practice facility.

Sophomore linebacker Steve Dildine picked up a fumble and ran it back 28 yards for the scrimmage's first touchdown.

Defensive Coordinator Robb Akey was pleased with the first team defense, which had forced three-and-outs on all but one possession and performed good tackling overall. For the first scrimmage, he said they did very well. Depth and consistency are major concerns for Akey. The competition for vacated spots has him excited to see where the pieces fall and how JC transfer Tyron Brackenridge is going to affect the race for the starting corner spot opposite Karl Paymah.

False start penalties plagued the offense during one series, when they had back-to-back penalties at one point, then had a minimal gain followed by a false start. In all there were four false start penalties on the offense.

Junior DE Adam Braidwood got a personal foul penalty when he and the 6-9, 319 pound Sam Lightbody continued to wrangle after the whistle.

Offensive line coach George Yarno is pleased with the effort of his guys and knows that right now they are a little bit tentative, but he said some of them are still getting back into it and will figure things out. "Thank God we've got 11 more practices," he said.

Tight Ends had a tough time hanging on to the ball today, each dropping at least one catchable ball.

Siderius was two of threw on field goals and added an extra point.

Junior Marty Martin led all receivers with four catches for 31 yards.

Cougar legend Don Paul still holds the WSU record for single game average yards per carry. He racked up a 14.0 per carry average against Oregon in 1948.

Spring drills resume Tuesday, March 30, at 3:30 pm.

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