Fall Camp: Day Six

PULLMAN — One of the handful of position battles underway on the Palouse may extend right up to the season opener on Sept. 3 against New Mexico. Senior <b>Pat Bennett</b> and sophomore <b>Steve Dildine</b>, competing for the outside linebacking post that will complement <b>Will Derting</b> in the middle and <b>Scott Davis</b> on the other side, are both looking good.

Head coach Bill Doba said the two were locked in a healthy competition – and from the perspective of those of us in the stands it's only getting more intense.

"Bennett has more experience, but Dildine is improving by leaps and bounds," Doba said.

Doba also is pleased with how the youngsters on the defensive line are shaping up. There is plenty of young talent with an opportunity to contribute. Freshmen tackles Ropati Pitoitua and Aaron Johnson have shown considerable improvement, and will likely rotate along with sophomore Odell Howard.

At end, redshirt freshman Matt Mullenix worked extremely hard over the summer, said Doba. And junior Adam West, who switched over from tight end, is getting very comfortable on the defensive side of the ball, he added.

Junior end Adam Braidwood, ticketed for the starting lineup, said the defense in general is close knit -- the linemen in particular – off the field. The bonding, (BBQ's, watching sports, lifting) translates to success on the field because of a good chemistry, he said. Braidwood, a Canadian import, is excited about developing into a leader on the defensive line – something he was reminded about consistently by last year's senior firebrands, Isaac Brown and D.D. Acholonu.

Sunday will be the first scrimmage of fall camp. It is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at Roger's Field.

Saturday marked the start of two-a-day practices. Skelly and scrimmage focused more on redzone and goal-line situations, in which the defense dominated. Coverage was tight in the secondary and there was non-stop pressure from the D-line and linebackers. The linebackers also looked good in coverage situations, sophomore Scott Davis deflected a pass and Bennett nearly had an interception. Doba lauded Davis' quickness and ability to shed blockers.

Invited walk-on Alexis Alexander, the former Kansas City Royals prospect, has switched positions for the second time in a week. He's now at linebacker, by way of the secondary and before that, the wideout corps. The 21-year-old freshman from Medical Lake spent three years in the minor leagues.

Injuries aplenty on Saturday: Defensive tackle Steve Cook sat out the evening practice to rest his back. Offensive lineman Calvin Armstrong went down at the end of the morning session with a left ankle injury and will sit out the next 7-10 days. Running back Allen Thompson, a frequent visitor to the trainer's office in his Cougar career, will be out up to two weeks after he suffered a clean, crippling hit at the line of scrimmage from Odell Howard during the morning's goal-line drills. Thompson suffered a concussion and a lower back injury as a result of the play. Freshman corner Ian Bell was helped off the practice field at the evening session and his status is unknown.

Cougfan Top Stories