Swogs' ankle won't get in way of Cardinal game

PULLMAN –- How gritty is <b>Josh Swogger</b>? So much so that he's been playing not only on a bum knee, but a bum ankle too. In fact, head coach <b>Bill Doba</b> said yesterday that the ankle is giving him more pain than the knee -– and that he's been playing on it for a long while now without complaint. "He's a tough kid," Doba said admiringly on Tuesday.

Despite the hobbles, Swogger will be ready to roll come Saturday when the 3-2 Cougars take on the 3-2 Stanford Cardinal.

The ankle was stepped on by a lineman during a practice, and there are some good days and some bad, according to WSU trainer Bill Drake. Swogger participated in drills Tuesday, but not in scrimmage or skelly.

Swogger's injury woes certainly haven't affected his ability to take care of the ball. He threw 93 passes without an interception between the fourth quarter of the New Mexico season opener and the Oregon game last week.

It's Homecoming weekend on the Palouse, and kickoff has been moved to 7:15 pm so the game can be broadcast nationally on Fox Sports Net, with Barry Tompkins and Petros Papadakis on the call.

Both teams are coming off losses – the Cougars 41-38 to Oregon and Stanford 23-15 at Notre Dame.

The Cougars have won three straight against the Card, including 24-14 last year, and are favored by one this weekend.

The Cougars, slowly returning to health after a rash of injuries, may have two familiar faces ready for duty against the Card: Receiver Marty Martin and DT Ropati Pitoitua.

Martin, shelved with a shoulder injury in the Arizona game, was at practice Tuesday wearing a yellow "no contact" jersey. Martin, who has 9 receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown this season, is tentatively listed as probable for Saturday.

Pitoitua also practiced Tuesday. Although trainer Bill Drake lists him as questionable right now, things may change as the week progresses. Pitoitua has been out since week 2, when he suffered a high ankle sprain against Colorado. Pitoitua has a brace with a tape job to stabilize his ankle, but the training staff's main concern is swelling.

Tight end Troy Bienemann isn't likely to be back, but his leg apprently started to respond to treatment Sunday and Monday.

Running back Jerome Harrison had some unexpected swelling in his ankle Monday morning after just some light bruising, but sat out of Tuesday's practice and will sit out of Wednesday's as well. Harrison carried 14 times against Oregon for 117 yards and a TD, he also caught 2 passes for 11 yards. Harrison is probable for Saturday. Regardless of his health, though, Doba said Chris Bruhn will remain the starter at RB despite Harrison's big day against Oregon.

Safety Jeremy Bohannon sat out Tuesday's practice to rest his back. Back up DE and long-snapper Adam West is looking fine after tweaking an ankle against Oregon.

FOR THE SECOND time this season, the Cougars will be facing a 3-4 defense. Stanford, loaded with upper classmen on D, runs it well and the last time the Cougars faced such an alignment – at New Mexico – the offense struggled. One advantage of the 3-4 is that one of the four linebackers rushes on every down – but the offense only has a 1 in 4 chance of knowing which one it will be.

Doba had high praise for senior offensive tackle Calvin Armstrong on Tuesday. The senior from Centralia is having a great year, "getting better and better each week," said Doba, noting that Armstrong pretty much shut out standout Oregon DT Devan Long on Saturday. The Cougar OL collectively has allowed just one sack in the last three games.

NOTABLE NOTES

All available tickets for WSU's remaining three games, Stanford, USC and Washington (except less than 25 donor seats as of Tuesday), have been sold. The Oregon game also sold out, running WSU's total sellouts to four this season. The only tickets that could become available will be from opponents who have the option to turn back tickets they hold.

The Cougars have faired well in recent Homecoming games, winning their last three. WSU has scored 30 or more points in each of its last five Homecoming games. The Cougars have won seven straight night games, including four in 2001, one in 2002 and two this year, at New Mexico and Idaho at home.

The Cougar defense was on the field for 102 snaps against Oregon last week – that's about 30-40 more than a typical game. And if you compare it to the NFL, where there's usually 50 snaps on each side of the ball, the Cougar D effectively played two games in four hours, Doba noted Tuesday.

Freshman Michael Bumpus, who took over the punt return chores in the second game of the year against Colorado, scored his first touchdown against Oregon with a 52-yard fourth quarter return. It was the first punt return for a touchdown by a Cougar since Shawn Tims went 73 yards against Boise State in 1997. The Ducks had not surrendered a punt return for a score since playing Iowa in 1994.

Josh Swogger threw 93 passes without an interception between the fourth quarter of the New Mexico season opener and the Oregon game last week.


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