Spring over, QB tussle not

PULLMAN -- Saturday's conclusion to WSU's spring drills did nothing to clear up the battle at QB. While <b>Josh Swogger</b> figures to hold the edge for now, make no mistake that <b>Alex Brink</b> is right on his heels, setting up what will be a much-anticipated showdown come August.

Head coach Bill Doba said after the annual Crimson & Gray game --- a lackluster 14-3 win for the Crimson -- that he and quarterbacks coach Timm Rosenbach will talk about it all and then announce on Monday who the No. 1 signal caller will be for purposes of leading summer workouts. All indications are that Swogger, who played in nine games last season, will get that nod.

But come August, it'll be Swogger vs. Brink all over again. Junior Chris Hurd also will be in the hunt, but looks right now to be No. 3 after a decent but unspecatcular spring session that ended on a sour note when he bruised his throwing hand a week ago and has been on the sidelines since then.

Brink looked sharpest on Saturday. And there was no better witness than receiver Marty Martin, who capped a brilliant spring season with 10 catches for 127 yards and two TDs on the day.

He said Brink has impressed him with his reads, audibles, and decision-making in the pocket.

"You can't teach somebody how to be a playmaker," Martin said of Brink, a second-year-freshman from Eugene, Ore.

Brink, the most agile of WSU's top three QBs, picked up 26 yards on one scramble Saturday to set a 40-yard scoring strike to Martin, who snared a screen over the middle and took it to the house.

Brink finished the day 11-for-16 for 151 yards and the TD Martin. He made a number of completions on the run.

Swogger was 7-for-14 for 49 with a four-yard touchdown pass to Martin. He also had an interception. In four spring scrimmages, Swogger completed 24 of 51 tosses for 227 yards and two TDS.

Martin has literally been like a professor this spring for the Cougar receiving corps -– instructing the young wideouts how to play at the Pac-10 level.

The junior from Puyallup took advantage of injuries to Chris Jordan and Jason Hill this spring, making the most of his chances. And with tight end Troy Bienemann also sitting out contact situations the last two weeks, Martin established himself as the primary target.

Not only has Martin been the most consistent receiver this spring, he's arguably been the biggest playmaker on the entire offense. In the four scrimmages, he has 23 receptions for 226 yards and three touchdowns.

The Gray team, composed entirely of second- and third-teamers, got on the board Saturday courtesy of some trickery.

Freshman quarterback Mike Reilly tossed a lateral pass to John Rasmussen who then turned and threw a 25-yard strike to sophomore Jeffrey Muai. The play was reminiscent of WSU's opening play against UCLA in ‘02 when Collin Henderson fired a TD strike to Mike Bush, in the game that sent the Cougars to the ‘03 Rose Bowl.

The play on Saturday set up a 38-yard field goal by Graham Siderius. (Siderius, playing for both teams, didn't have one of his better days; the field goal was his only one of four attempts on the day. It was a far cry from the scrimmage a week ago, when Siderius drilled a pair of 57-yarders.)

Mental errors were rampant Saturday. Bobbled snaps, fumbles and dropped passes topped the list. Bobbled snaps had not even been a factor before today–Coach Bill Doba was not especially pleased with how the Crimson team performed overall.

The fumblitis was a new affliction this spring; in all there were six fumbles on the day. Three were bobbled snaps and one was a punt-return where Tramaine Murray did everything right–but the ball bounced up and hit him in the leg.

Coach Bill Doba noted the primary problem with the receiving corps is simply that two of the best ones are standing next to him on the sidelines. Jordan and Hill should be 100 percent come fall camp.

One positive from the offensive miscues --- it means the depth on defense is considerable. The Gray D, compised of second- and third-unit players, swarmed to the ball all day long, holding the Crimson offense to zero points through the first half.

Freshman linebacker Chris Baltzer led all tacklers with 8 sticks, while sophomore Thomas Clements tallied 5 tackles and a forced fumble. Freshman walk-on Ryan Kensok snagged an interception, and a fumble recovery on special teams. Freshman pass-rush specialist Reyshawn Bobo had the Gray's only sack and recovered a fumble on a bobbled snap.

The Cougar running game showed it could grind out the tough yards again this Saturday. Senior Chris Bruhn finished with 88 yards on 9 carries, including a pair of 40-yard romps, one of which was the first play from scrimmage. The other big-gainer took the Crimson inside the 5-yard line to set up the first Martin touchdown.

Senior Allen Thompson continued to showcase his bruising running style with 35 yards on 6 carries, earning every yard by running over and through and on-top-of defenders. Thompson has displayed impressive toughness and grit throughout the spring workouts.

Adam Braidwood tallied one of the four Crimson sacks on QB Mike Reilly. Former Cougar teammates of Braidwood, such as D.D. Acholonu, told him as far back as last year he'd need to step up and be a leader on D. Braidwood's aggressive nature and high energy make him an ideal QB hunter, and beginning Sept. 3 in New Mexico, it's quarterback season.

Doba said the success of the team all depends on how well his players prepare between now and August. The talent and potential is clearly there, they simply need to continue to get stronger and stay healthy.

Senior safety Jeremy Bohannon had two picks Saturday, both in the fourth quarter against Reilly. Bohannon said defensive coordinator Robb Akey has instilled the "11 hats to the ball mentality" on defense again this season.

Recent Cougar grads Erik Coleman, Scott Lunde, Jonathan Smith, and Drew Dunning were all on-hand at Saturday's game as well as members of the current recruiting class and prospects for the upcoming year.

Since the release of the Crimson and Grays rosters a few days ago, our inbox at CF.C has fielded several inquiries on an unfamiliar name: Ryan Kensok.

The defensive back is a 2003 graduate of Spokane's Gonzaga Prep, who earned a roster spot as a walk-on this spring. And if success breeds familiarity, Kensok's performance for the Gray team—one interception, one fumble recovery, and four tackles—could mean we won't be getting many more "who is he?" emails.

Cougfan Top Stories