Final practice features more 'T and T'

PULLMAN—The brief glimpse into the 2004 edition of Washington State Cougar football is coming to a close. Yesterday marked the final day of spring practice before Saturday's annual Crimson and Gray game. And, like Tuesday's practice, both touchdowns and turnovers ruled the day.

The No.1 offense, led by sophomore Josh Swogger, had good success moving the ball. Swogger capped a long drive with a play action naked bootleg left for the offenses' first touchdown of the scrimmage. The defense got a second try to stop the "O" on the goal line, but was unsuccessful, as Chris Bruhn burst through the hole for a short touchdown run.

The Cougars ran the two-minute drill again today, with the offense starting on their own 30-yard line. Each team had two time-outs and the offense needed a touchdown in order to win.

In his second try of the drill, Swogger completed a couple of passes early and was leading the offense inside enemy territory again. Swogger got more and more daring with each down as he slowly moved the ball up the field and into the redzone, but defensive tackle Ropati Pitoitua had a sack on Swogger forcing a fourth and long situation.

On the next play Jeremy Bohannon picked off a Swogger pass, but the defense was called for pass interference, and just like that, the offense was back in business at the 20-yard line. After two incompletions, Martin had a catch over the middle to pick up the first down with a generous spot from offensive line coach George Yarno, who was acting as a referee. Now, with 15 seconds remaining, the offense was just inside the 10-yard line and had first and goal. The defense brought the heat, but it was not enough, Swogger dropped back and threw a touchdown pass to a wide-open Martin.

Freshman quarterback Alex Brink again showcased his running ability with the second team on a 12-yard scramble on a third and 10. Allen Thompson had a nice 9-yard run on the next play, followed by a quarterback sneak up the middle to pick up the first. Again it looked as though the offense was moving the ball well, but Brink threw an interception on the next play.

In one-on-one receiving drills, Marty Martin showed he's got the "want to" by making a nice adjustment on a Mike Reilly pass, returning to his feet after slipping, and making a great catch. On the very next play, sophomore Eric Frampton intercepted a Reilly pass by extending out in front of the receiver. Reilly then showed he is able to throw the long ball by hitting junior Thomas Ostrander in stride for a big gain.

Quarterbacks' coach Timm Rosenbach said this weekend's performance from his QB's is all in how they prepare for the Crimson & Gray game and will be a good test to see the mental toughness and preparation at the signal caller position.

He's also excited for Cougar quarterback recruits Cole Morgan and Gary Rogers, who will be in fall camp. "There's a bigger drop back guy (Rogers) and then there's a scrambler (Morgan)," Rosenbach said, "So we've got two different styles coming in." He's excited for the new talent on the Palouse and wants to begin developing them right away.

Yarno is pleased with the improvement on the offensive line this spring, however injuries have been a factor, in the form of Patrick Afif and Bobby Byrd. In particlular, Yarno said junior Nick Mihlhauser had an outstanding spring and has really developed at center. The coach also spoke highly of utility player Sean O'Conner.

"Sean is kind-of like the sixth man in basketball," Yarno said. "He is such a good athlete and can do so many things."

O'Conner, who has played at guard, center, and tight end, should expect to get substantial playing time this fall at any or all of these positions.

The Crimson and Gray game will take place on Saturday, 1:15 pm, at Martin Stadium.

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