Youngsters getting practice with the regulars

PULLMAN — With <b>Josh Swogger</b> hobbled by that bum knee, true freshman quarterback <b>Gary Rogers</b> is getting some invaluable practice time with Cougar regulars rather than the scout team. Injuries at wideout, where <b>Marty Martin</b> is out for up to a month, have put true freshman <b>Michael Bumpus</b> in the starting lineup at slot in this week's workouts. And that's just the beginning of the musical chairs in Pullman these days.

With starting tight end Troy Bienemann nursing a bone bruise in his leg and understudy Cody Boyd perhaps out for the season with a serious shoulder separation, back up offensive lineman Sean O'Connor is getting some reps at tight end. A year ago, in short yardage situations, O'Conner was used as a blocking tight end.

Bienemann is expected to be ready for the Oct. 9 game with Oregon. Jesse Taylor will be first off the bench. There have been no rumblings about former tight end Adam West, now a defensive end, making a move back to O.

For the past two weeks, starting DTs Steve Cook and Ropati Pitoitua have been sidelined, forcing untested Aaron Johnson and Odell Howard into the starting lineup. Cook and Pitoitua could be back against Oregon.

IN OTHER NEWS, secondary coach Ken Greene said he is pleased with the play of his DBs. In fact, of the Cougars' five top tacklers, three of them are defensive backs: Jeremy Bohannon, Alex Teems and Hamza Abdullah.

Greene also said he has been struck by the progress of the back ups. Safety Husain Abdullah and cornerback Wally Dada are two players who have made considerable strides, and Eric Frampton is seeing more and more action.

Greene notes that none of the teams the Cougars have faced so far can be considered pass oriented. Greene says the first true test for the secondary will be a week from Saturday against the Ducks and quarterback Kellen Clemens. "They have good receivers," Greene said, "Their quarterback is solid. The good passing teams are all still ahead of us."

Greene wants to see more big plays from the defensive backs. "That's the one thing we're missing from a year ago," Greene said. The opportunities have been there and the Cougars have not always taken advantage.

The kickoff time for the WSU-Oregon game has returned to its original 2 p.m. schedule and will NOT be televised live by Fox Sports Net. "We were premature in making our initial announcement (that the game was being moved to 7 pm for TV)," said WSU's John Johnson. Johnson said several factors resulted in the return to a 2 p.m. kickoff. "First, not all affected parties had a chance to provide input into the decision and after further discussions, we believe it is in our interest to stay with the afternoon start," he said.

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