15 Days of Spring: Part II

RELIVE THE GLORY of Washington State laying the foundation for the 2004 campaign with this look back at <i>Cougfan.com's</i> day-by-day diary of spring football drills.

(Presented in reverse chronological order.)

PULLMAN --- The second scrimmage of the spring was held in ideal conditions at Martin Stadium, with early morning temperatures comfortably in the mid-60's. During the two-hour session the offense ran 99 plays and observers were treated to a day when the ground attack took center stage. Headlining that attack—Allen Thompson.

The running game looked solid again on Saturday. Allen Thompson lead the pack with 72 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown. Thompson showed explosive speed—going virtually untouched until breaking into the secondary as he ripped off a 26-yard gain, finally going down inside the 10-yard line.

A couple plays later Thompson found the endzone with a leaping two-yard touchdown plunge. Coach Bill Doba said Thompson is a tough back who runs hard and added, "..Knock on wood, that shoulder has been good so far all spring."

Good enough to see time as a true freshman in ‘01, Thompson started one game and played in the first five before a high ankle sprain ended his season. He missed the first half of '02 due to a left shoulder injury and in his first game back, re-injured the shoulder and was lost for the remainder of the year. Then last year, in the seventh practice of fall camp, the shoulder again was injured and he underwent surgery, ending his '03 season.

If Thompson can stay healthy, Cougar fans are going to get a chance to find out just how special a back he truly is.. and Thompson can expect to see the ball plenty more this Spring. "We need to work him hard and see if that shoulder holds up," coach Bill Doba has said.

Freshman Kevin McCall also had a stellar day showing good moves and an explosive burst with 59 yards on 15 carries. McCall looked more impressive than the numbers indicate—he turned a few plays destined to be tackles-for-loss into 1-2 yard gains.

McCall displayed some ‘escapability' on Saturday—breaking tackles on his way to double-digit gains. Chris Bruhn saw only limited action today; Doba said the senior had a slight hamstring injury—nothing serious.

Doba was also pleased with the play of his quarterbacks. They were, on balance, more efficient than last Saturday's scrimmage going a combined 24-42, a 57 percent clip, for 296 yards through the air.

Those numbers could have been even better—there were seven catchable balls dropped by receivers by one count. On this day it was not Swogger, Hurd, or Brink—but rather walk-on Mike Reilly—who was the most efficient passer for the second scrimmage in a row. The 6-2, 188-pound RS freshman finished 8-9 for 112 yards and a touchdown.

And it would have been 9-9 had not safety Hamza Abdullah flown in to take away a sure touchdown catch. Abdullah accounted for the sole interception of the scrimmage on the play.

Some of Reilly's highlights: On 3rd and 20, he was forced to roll left and delivered a tight spiral downfield to Jeffrey Muai, putting the offense on the 5-yard line.

Reilly, originally from the Tri-Cities before moving to Kalispell, Montana halfway through his junior year of high school, played prep football with linebacker Scott Davis.

When Brink got his chance under center, he threw a 12-yard completion to wideout Scott Selby. Selby, who grayshirted last season, finished with 2 receptions for 20 yards. Brink then completed a 30-yard pass to Jeffrey Muai near the goal line. Muai was the leading receiver on the day with 86 yards on just 3 catches.

Tramaine Murray were consistent targets throughout the day, (as they have been all Spring), catching a combined 12 receptions for 121 yards. Martin made a couple tough catches including a play action pass from Swogger, with Swoggs rolling to his right and connecting with Martin for the 39-yard gain.

On another play, Martin was hit hard as the ball came in, but somehow managed to hang on for a short gain. Martin finished with 6 reception for 56 yards. Offensive Coordinator Mike Levenseller mentioned Martin's vast improvement this spring and noted it's the perfect time for him to step up, "(Martin) needed to do that at this time in his career, and he has."

When the offense needed the clutch first down they looked to Murray however, who moved the sticks on a couple 3rd-and-longs with some nice catches. Murray also displayed good downfield moves, tallying some impressive YAC numbers, (yards-after-contact).

Levenseller said Martin has all the ability necessary to be in the rotation come fall, he just needs to play confidently and physically—Mental toughness is, of course, a prerequisite for all the receivers in Levy's corps.

Levenseller also took a moment to mention the wideouts who will join the Cougs later this summer. He's excited about the group of receiver recruits coming this fall, citing Greg Prator, who is a "tough, physical specimen that could find his way into the lineup fairly early," as two to watch for.

Cody Boyd (CF.C)

Levenseller is also looking forward to having Cody Boyd in the mix, something he has yet to experience this Spring.

The tight end situation on Saturday itself was even thinner—Cody Boyd is not yet ready for full contact plus Troy Bienemann and Jessie Taylor sat out with minor injuries. Having Boyd and Bienemann and what they both bring to the offense is something Levy is looking forward to, pointing out its a tremendous advantage for the O given their speed and pass-catching ability.

Sophomore Sean O'Connor, listed as the No. 2 center on the Spring depth chart, lined up at tight end and had a reception today for six yards.

O'Connor is one to keep an eye on. He filled in exceptionally well last year at tight end, especially as a blocker. Adding to his value, he can line-up anywhere according to Doba. "He can play center, guard, and tight end," Doba said. "He could probably line-up at tackle if we wanted him to."

As much as the running game and the offense was the story, the defense shouldn't be overlooked. The defensive ends put on a good pass rush all day—forcing quarterbacks out of the pocket and on the run. Mkristo Bruce tallied a sack of his own, on Brink.

Also, consider the offense ran the ball 48 times on Saturday. Besides Thompson and McCall, Cougar backs carried the ball an additional 19 times. On those 19 carries, the defense gave up a total of 22 yards. Overall, the defense gave up 3.18 yards-per-carry on Saturday.

Still, everything isn't clicking on all cylinders yet. The offense had a number of false start penalties, including two in a row on different possessions. The offense also was guilty of a couple of holding calls, costing them field position. The defense did not go un-penalized either, with a five-yard facemask call and later, pass interference near the goal line.

Kyle Basler boomed three kicks, averaging 44.6 yards.

PULLMAN --- With temperatures soaring into the 70s, the three-way battle for quarterback appeared to heat up for Washington State on Friday, as freshman Alex Brink showed off some of the fancy footwork and pinpoint passing that made him the most prolific signal caller in Oregon prep history.

In the face of lock-down coverage by the WSU secondary, the 6-2, 191-pound Brink put on a running and throwing clinic. On one play he was forced to his left, meaning any pass for a right-handed QB would be against the grain. Alas, on the run, he fired a beauty to Marty Martin in the back of the end zone for a 15-yard score.

Alex Brink (WSU)

Later, as the defense closed in around him, Brink scrambled up the middle, dodging and weaving his way 10 yards for another TD.

And on his very next snap, he again proved elusive in the pocket, scrambling for a six-yard gainer. He then completed a short pass to Tramaine Murray who was forced out of bounds at the one-yard line.

Brink says he feels like he's done a good job so far this spring but wants to improve his technique on drop backs.

His credentials coming out of Eugene's Sheldon High were nothing less than spectacular. In his three seasons as a starter, the Irish went 35-3. Along the way, he passed for 9,262 yards, the most ever by an Oregon high schooler. He also fired 92 TD passes, the second-most in Oregon prep history.

While Brink clearly was the QB of the day on Friday, Thomas Ostrander after being forced to scramble out of the pocket to his right.

Tramaine Murray, making a strong bid to be one of the Cougars' new starters at receiver, continued to impress on Friday. After catching one ball, he made a nice spin move to get by the first defender on his way for a couple extra yards. He also made a nice reception on a slant route, laying out in front of Karl Paymah in tight coverage.

Alex Teems (CF.C)

Tight coverage seemed to be the phrase of the day. The defensive backs looked especially good, making solid reads and showing impressive closing speed. Highlights included junior corner Alex Teems' knocking a ball away from Ostrander; and freshman safety Husain Abdullah making a nice adjustment on a play when he appeared to have been beaten, and getting back in position to deflect a pass intended for Martin.

One DB who was absent from today's blanket-fest was sophomore cornerback Don Turner, ticketed for serious playing time in 2004 as a starter or dime and nickel insert. For the second straight spring season, the pride of Spokane's University High is out with injury. On Monday he went down with a bruised Achilles tendon that likely ends the rest of the spring for him. A year ago he sustained a broken arm in spring workouts.

"It's kind of like a year ago when he was making a lot of progress and then, boom, he's out for the rest of spring," said secondary coach Ken Greene. The injury isn't as severe this time and Greene he is hoping Turner will be back to 100 percent in August.


Freshman DE Reyshawn Bobo showed impressive speed Friday with a couple of sacks on the day, one on Swogger and the other on Hurd.

The scrimmage for Saturday has pushed back from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

PULLMAN --- There are days when some fans can find it difficult to be completely satisfied with Spring Ball. If the offense looks great, concern immediately turns to the defense's performance. If the defense dominates, then ‘What's wrong with the offense?' is the familiar refrain. But then there are days like Wednesday..

It was a day that saw standout play and strong individual efforts, all practice long and on both sides of the ball. The defense turned in a dazzling play. The offense responded with one of their own. Back and forth it went.

The defensive line dialed it up a notch Wednesday, applying continual pressure and forcing the quarterbacks into making hurried decisions.

However, Alex Brink and Chris Hurd both looked good rolling out of the pocket, making plays to both sides of the field. Brink in particular, (who Doba wants to get some more reps with the first-team offense), displayed considerable elusiveness, completing a nice short pass under duress to Tramaine Murray.

The redshirt freshman also displayed his open field running ability, scrambling ten yards to pick up a first down when it looked like the D would drop him for a ‘sack'.

The defense had a number of standout efforts on Wednesday, including the play of the defensive line. Adam West showed good stuff in one-on-one drills, the former tight end has shown a knack for the DE position so far. The speed off the corners of both DEs Reyshawn Bobo and Mkristo Bruce has been impressive to date as well.

No surprise has been the play of Adam Braidwood could move inside to join him. It's a seven way race to play tackle opposite Cook but the head coach made clear its not going to be a race won by default—one of those seven will have to earn it. If not, Braidwood could move to defensive tackle.

The play after Brink's scramble, Josh Swogger stepped in and Braidwood greeted him by breaking through containment to tally a ‘sack' on Swoggs.

Braidwood said he and fellow defensive end Bruce both make plays but have very different personalities. "(Bruce) likes to talk a lot and I'm kind of quiet," said Braidwood. He also said jokingly he enjoys hard core rap music while Bruce listens to country music. When Bruce heard this he responded, "That's Adam, he's good for a laugh."

The 6-5, 264-pound junior from British Columbia said he and Bruce pushed each other hard over the off-season in the weight room, and that the work ethic has continued during the spring sessions.

The prevailing train of thought by many will be this is a ‘young' defense, manned with plenty of new starters who may be on the raw side. Don't try telling that to Bruce, he's not buying.

"I don't feel that young," he said, "I feel a lot more improved." Bruce said he and the defense want, and expect, to excel this season. "We've got big shoes to fill, but the older guys think we can do that."

The linebackers looked especially sharp Wednesday, flying to the ball and making plays on receivers, running backs, quarterbacks—you name it.

MLB Pat Bennett crashed through the line to garner a tackle for a loss.

The receivers had a good day. Marty Martin had yet another fine catch, (he's making a habit of making the tough catches each day), going over the top of 6-3 Hamza Abdullah.

Martin has stepped up in the absence of Chris Jordan this Spring. Martin said the receivers are a group determined to always keep improving, always get better, and he enjoys his role as the guy to set the tempo. Precision route running is where he thinks he can influence his receiver-mates best. Martin hopes to be a go-to-guy this fall, citing quickness and speed as two of his better assets.

Martin feels he can make his mark in the slot, citing lessons learned from his mentors, former Cougar stand-outs Jerome Riley and Scott Lunde.

Juniors Thomas Ostrander and Murray showed much improved hands today—snaring some nice passes in tight coverage.

Graham Siderius showed good distance and perfect accuracy on his kicks during the practice, nailing all three of his field goal attempts.

PULLMAN --- Despite winds that carried a few long balls off target, the three quarterbacks aiming to succeed Matt Kegel as top cat on the Palouse looked good today, easing the Cougars into Week 2 of spring workouts in fine fashion. Head coach Bill Doba said he'd like to have the No. 1 spot nailed down when the session ends on April 17, but thinks that may not be possible. In other news, injuries shelve two potential starters.

First the quarterback situation.

"Chris Hurd is in good shape," says Doba. "We haven't noticed him limping or anything. He looks just fine as far as his leg and he is throwing the ball better with a little quicker release and a little more accuracy.

Josh Swogger (CF.C)

"Josh Swogger looks like he knows what he is doing out there. He has the swagger, or Swogger, whatever you want to call it. He has a quick delivery."

Doba also said he'd like to get the youngest of the three contenders, second-year freshman Alex Brink, more reps with the first string.

As for last Saturday's scrimmage, in which the the three combined to complete just 10 of 24 pass attempts, Doba was upbeat. "They all made good decisions," he said. "The stats from the scrimmage don't necessarily reflect that but we have some young receivers who dropped some balls."

Swogger, who so far has taken most of the first unit snaps this spring, appeared more comfortable today running the offense and says Saturday's scrimmage -- and the subsequent analysis of the film -- proved a great learning experience for the entire offense.

Swogger teamed up with junior receiver Marty Martin a couple of times today, evoking shades of Kegel-to-Lunde. During one-on-one drills, they connected on a nifty pass play near the sideline and then again over the top of an out-stretched Christian Bass for what in a game situation would have been a long gainer. Martin also made a nice adjustment to catch a TD pass at the end of practice.

John Williams, a 6-2, 205-pound senior receiver from Lexington, Kentucky, also made some nice adjustments on long throws during pass catching drills.

Omowale Dada didn't help Murray, though, playing some lock-down D much of the day.

The rest of the defense continued to swarm to the ball as they have since last week, putting consistent pressure on the quarterbacks and sniffing out every screen pass and quick out. Junior DT Bryan Boyer, out all of last season with an injury, had a sack.

ON THE INJURY FRONT, there was a bit of good news Tuesday (tight end Trandon Harvey injured a hamstring triple jumping in track & field and may not be back until the final week of spring drills.

Junior kicker Graham Siderius, who has battled with consistency since arriving on campus as a much-touted prep phenom from Reno, put three field goals right through the middle of the uprights during Saturday's scrimmage. "He just needs some experience and confidence. That job is Graham's to lose. He is making a lot better contact and getting the ball up," said Doba. Incoming freshman Loren Langley of Puyallup is expected to battle Siderius for the starting job in August, but based on his performance thus far this spring, Siderius will be the No. 1 guy on opening day.

Doba said the most pleasant surprise of spring workouts so far is grayshirt defensive tackle Ropati Pitoitua, who he said " is playing tougher and better than we thought he could this early. He could be somebody pretty special down the road." Doba said the battle for the starting DT spot on the opposite side of Steve Cook is shaping up as a seven-person race.

Linebacker Scott Davis intercepted an Alex Brink pass when Tramaine Murray couldn't find the handle on a screen pass.

Will Derting, moved to middle linebacker this spring after playing on the outside the last two seasons, is looking good. "I think he's found a home in there," Doba said.

Doba cited wide-outs Martin, Murray, Jevon Miller as some of the younger receivers who have stepped up with the absence of injured Chris Jordan and Jason Hill.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: When asked about his biggest disappoint so far this spring, Doba said, "The locker-room hasn't been very clean."

PULLMAN--It didn't take too long for Washington State running back Chris Bruhn 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 Bernard Jackson 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.

Allen Thompson (WSU)

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 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.

Steve Dildine (CF.C)

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 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.

Scott Davis (CF.C)

PULLMAN --- Move over, Will Derting. If Friday's practice was any indication of things to come, there may be two All-American candidates in the Cougars' linebacking corps this season. Scott Davis, the third-year sophomore from Kennewick, looked like a one-man wrecking crew on the first day of full pads in this young spring season.

The 5-11, 225-pound outside linebacker intercepted one pass, recovered a fumble on the very next play, and later forced and recovered another fumble. Afterward, head coach Bill Doba offered up the ultimate understatement, "He makes plays," despite his obvious delight with Davis' work.

A three-time All-Big Nine MVP while at Kamiakin High, Davis saw considerable playing time as a backup last season. With a great nose for the ball, he recovered three fumbles and posted 29 total tackles in 11 games last season. He's expected to anchor the Cougars' strongside LB chores in 2004.

Junior cornerback Omowale Dada also drew the attention of coaches on Friday --- in very big way. He made a perfect read on a pass intended for Tramaine Murray and stepped in front to knock it away. That prompted an immediate response from defensive coordinator Robb Akey, an unabashed enthusiast for his players. The coach, who stands about 6-foot-3, nearly knocked over the 5-foot-10 Dada when he delivered a congratulatory bear hug.

Dada is competing with Alex Teems and Don Turner for a starting spot opposite Karl Paymah.

Another highlight of the day was the head-crackin' going on between the hosses and steak eaters. One-on-one drills between the offensive and defensive lines saw some great efforts on both sides of the ball, with sophomore guard Spencer Hollison and freshman defensive end Matt Mullenix turning in some outstanding play.

Overall, Doba said he's pleased with the first three days of practice, and sees the players getting more comfortable each day. "They're working hard, they're having fun, and the coaches are doing a great job," he said.

Doba has been impressed with his three quarterbacks --- Josh Swogger, Chris Hurd and Alex Brink -- , and says that all of have made some nice plays.

On Friday, Brink completed a nice pass to TE Troy Bienemann against good coverage. Bienemann was hit immediately, which prompted cheers from defensive players, but managed to hang on to the ball and came up showing it to the defensive players. The cheers then shifted to the offensive side of the field.

On defense, Doba lauded senior safety Aaron Johnson and Ropati Pitoitua have potential and are going to be a good group to watch.

His also said it's critical that the team stays healthy. With nine starters to replace on defense and seven on offense, there's no room for down time, especially in light of the fact receivers Chris Jordan (knee) and Jason Hill (shoulder) are out till August and tight end Cody Boyd (shoulder) out for another week or two.


Former Cougar secondary standouts Jason David were on hand for Friday's practice. Both are expected to be in NFL training camps this summer.

The Cougars have changed their spring practice schedule, moving a pair of Thursday sessions to Wednesdays. The April 1 practice is now set for March 31 and the April 8 tilt is penned in for April 7.


Hamza Abdullah (CF.C)

PULLMAN --- Nine starters need to be replaced on the Cougar defense this season, but one thing that hasn't left is the stop corps' swashbuckling attitude. On the second day of spring drills, the D -- led by senior free safety Hamza Abdullah -- showed itself to be every bit the vocal, hyper-confident unit the crimson faithful have come to love over the last three years.

That swagger was at center stage of one-on-one receiving drills, with one play in particular serving notice that the 2004 Washington State defense has every intention of carrying on the blasting, blitzing -- and boisterous -- legacy of teams past.

Senior strong safety Jeremy Bohannon, the pride of Richland High, made a nifty play on a slant route, knocking the ball away from the receiver, and touching off a mini-celebration among defensive players. When the receiver tried to argue that he was "fouled," the 6-3, 209-pound Abdullah was quick to respond.

"This ain't basketball. We wear pads in this game!" he proclaimed, sounding all the world like Jason David's heir-apparent as unofficial team spokesman.

The banter back and forth continued throughout passing drills. Cheers from the receiving corps erupted when one of their own beat a DB badly or made a great catch. The DBs rejoiced every time a receiver was shut-down or a ball batted away. And when Marty Martin made a nice grab over the middle, they assured him he wouldn't be making that catch tomorrow when full pads go on.

Abdullah, a fifth-year player from Pomona, Calif., was the most animated of the bunch, encouraging fellow DBs after every good defensive play.

That's in keeping with the leadership role he took on during winter conditioning, making sure people were on time and working hard.

He and Bohannon are ticketed to replace Virgil Williams as the Cougars' starting safeties. Bohannon and Abdullah rotated in last season to give breathers to Coleman and Williams, and have been regulars in nickel and dime situations for the past two seasons.

"We've got confidence in them," WSU defensive coordinator Robb Akey told CF.C earlier this year. "There's already two years of game experience there. While they're technically new starters, they've been in some big games. I'm excited about what they're going to bring to the table."

IN FULL OFFENSE vs. defense drills on Thursday, the D looked very alert and inspired. Highlights included a tipped Josh Swogger pass that junior cornerback Alex Teems picked off and, two plays later, another INT, this time of a Chris Hurd toss, by senior linebacker Pat Bennett.

Rain began about an hour into the day's proceedings and created problems for some of the receivers catching the ball and making sharp cuts.

It didn't seem to bother tight end Troy Bienemann, however. He caught nearly every ball thrown his way.

As for the wideouts, offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller said Martin and Tramaine Murray have looked good in the early going. He also said with the injuries in the receiving corps some of the younger receivers are going to be getting plenty of reps and chances to prove themselves.

Martin continued to show consistency both running routes and catching the ball, and Murray showed some nice moves. Murray also spent a fair amount of time fielding punts, and is expected to be the Cougars' No. 1 punt and kickoff return man this season.


With Bohannon and Abdullah at safety and returning starter Karl Paymah at left corner, there's only one starting job up for grabs in the Cougar secondary: right corner. Look for a neck-and-neck battle there between Teems and sophomore Don Turner. Wally Dada, currently penned in as Paymah's understudy, could challenge there as well, with Hamza's younger brother Husain Abdullah, now a backup safety, possibly getting into the mix. And in the fall, touted JC transfer Tyron Brackenridge figures to make a strong bid for playing time too.

Will Derting (CF.C)

Will Derting, making the switch from outside linebacker to middle linebacker, said he's enjoying the move and is eager to get the pads on tomorrow.

Kicker Graham Siderius had good distance on his kicks but struggled a bit with the windy weather. Punter Kyle Basler looked solid as usual.

The Cougars will practice tomorrow (Friday) at 3:30 and then on Saturday at 9 am. They'll then have two days off before resuming things on Tuesday the 30th.

Spring workouts will culminate with the Crimson and Gray game on April 17 in Martin Stadium. Kickoff is at 1 pm.

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.

Tramaine Murray (WSU)

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.

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