Fall Camp: Day Eight

PULLMAN—With both defensive captains now sidelined with injuries, the Cougs are in need of leaders and playmakers out on the field. Check. In the defensive backfield, Monday's evening practice was a hotly contested affair, with spirited play from the safeties. Out on the corner, one starting position battle did nothing but heat up. And the secondary as a whole was determined to make the receivers work extremely hard just to be able to get their hands on the ball.

Coach Ken Greene has been pleased with the play of his safeties and corners thus far. "We have yet to have a practice where I really have to put my foot down," Greene said. "Leadership has been very good."

Now, more than ever, it needs to be.

A very preliminary and optimistic estimate would put secondary spokesman and starting free safety Hamza Abdullah on the shelf for 3 weeks. It could very well be longer. (Editor's note: More should be known on the return timetable for Abdullah late Tuesday evening. When we get definitive word, we'll put up a Hot News.)

The injury to the defensive captain and team leader will result in the need for other players to become more outspoken out on the field. Senior Jeremy Bohannon and sophomore Eric Frampton, the leading candidate to replace Abdullah, were two such players taking the reins in Monday's practice.

"I know I'm going to have to be a little more vocal," said Bohannon, who has played in all 38 games over his Cougar career. "With Hamza gone, I'm going to have to fill in the void."

(While his presence on the field will be missed, Abdullah won't be an idle presence on the sideline. After a broken collarbone curtailed his spring, the senior could be seen and certainly heard; motivating, shouting encouragement and asking questions during the final spring sessions. Expect the same thing this time around during his rehab.)

The starting corner spot opposite Karl Paymah is a hotly contested four-way battle right now between juniors Alex Teems, Omowale (Wally) Dada, Tyron Brackenridge, and sophomore Don Turner.

Teems and Turner have the most experience playing in the Cougs' system; Teems' solid spring earned him the lead heading into Fall Camp. JC transfer Brackenridge has turned heads this first week with aggressive and speedy play. And coach Greene says Dada has made the most progress of the four since Spring ball.

Prior to Fall Camp, Dada may have been seen by some as more of an afterthought for the starting position, with the spotlight trained on Teems, Turner and the incoming Brackenridge. No longer.

For his part, Brackenridge said he is adjusting to Div-1A football quite well. "You have to play smarter, because it's much faster," said the California native.

And adjusting to life in Pullman from junior college, while joining the sequel to last year's nationally ranked defense, has been an eye-opener for the former Chaffey College standout.

"I see Washington State signs everywhere," Brackenridge said, "It's a blessing."

The Cougar receiving crops were seeing defenders everywhere Monday. They all had to work hard for every catch they made in the evening session.

Sophomore Chris Jordan showed why he was named to the all Pac-10 freshman team, laying out for a Josh Swogger pass on an out route against blanket coverage from Paymah.

The defensive play of the night belonged to Christian Bass. An tipped Alex Brink pass found its way into the safety's hands and Bass took off.. The redshirt freshman has some serious wheels, having run a 4.37 40-time his senior year in high school. Kicking it into overdrive, Bass didn't stop until he crossed the goal-line.

Notable Notes
Monday's morning session was helmets-only, and practice did not begin until 10:30 with rookies having math placement tests.

The Cougs second scrimmage of Fall Camp is slated for Wednesday, Aug. 18, at 7:30pm.

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