Fall Camp: Day Nine

PULLMAN—The injury bug has plagued Washington State early this year, but players and coaches are optimistic, noting none of the injuries are of the season-ending variety. And in some good news (finally!) from the medical front, running back <b>Chris Bruhn</b> was back in action yesterday—about a week earlier then originally forecast—after suffering a quad contusion.

Bruhn's new running mate, Jerome Harrison, showcased his talent after being cleared academically. The Kalamazoo, Mich. native transferred to WSU from the same JC as the Coug's 2003 rushing leader, Jonathan Smith. At 5-10, 190 pounds Harrison has a similar running style to Smith, who was named second team all-conference for the Holiday Bowl champs. Harrison is lightening quick, makes sharp cuts, and can catch the ball out of the backfield.

Offensive line coach George Yarno was pleased with the work ethic and overall fitness of his linemen so far. Even with some of the starters dinged up Yarno is optimistic. "You can mix the pieces together and see how they fit," Yarno said. "Sometimes that's going to happen in a game."

Yarno said camp has been very competitive; the second stringers are really pushing the starters to get better. Of the newcomers, Yarno has been impressed by Los Alamitos native Dan Rowlands, calling him "an intelligent, tough kid." Yarno said it is too early to evaluate Andy Roof, who just recently was cleared academically and began practicing late last week.

WIDE RECEIVERS were amped-up at practice, showing their potential against a stingy and aggressive secondary. Newcomers Michael Bumpus and Greg Prator continue to show poise by making great catches. They each had a catch followed immediately by a big hit, but managed to maintain hold of the ‘skin. Sophomore Jason Hill, who missed all of spring with a shoulder injury, had an inconsistent first week, but has since shaken off any remaining rust. The San Francisco native hauled in nearly every pass thrown his way including a couple long distance aerials in tight one-on-one coverage. Sophomore Chris Jordan will sit out a couple days because fluid has been building in his knee.

The Cougs ran the "two-minute drill" at the end of practice. Sophomore captain Josh Swogger led the first team O down to the 25-yardline, but on third down with 10 seconds to go, linebacker Steve Dildine stepped in front of TE Troy Bienemann for the interception and the victory. The second team, led by Alex Brink, went four and out.

When asked about the linebacking situation Doba joked, "We're thinking about canceling the season." He said the defense will still play 4-3, but they could use a nickel formation in passing situations. Senior Pat Bennett will play strong side linebacker, sophomore Scott Davis will move into the middle, and Dildine will play on the weak side. Doba is confident sophomore Brian Hall and walk-on Brian Winters will be able to step in and play reserve roles.

Defensive captain Hamza Abdullah had a cast on today, and attended practice simply to cheer on his teammates. "He doesn't need a jersey on to yell," Doba said.

In additon to Bruhn's return, Doba had more good news on the injury front. He expects Calvin Armstrong to return by Saturday and possibly Cody Boyd as well. Armstrong was able to do some light running on his sprained ankle early Tuesday.

With so many injuries this early in camp Doba wants to take a closer look at some of the young talent in today's scrimmage, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Martin Stadium.

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