SPRING BALL DAY ONE: Impressive gains and losses

<b>PULLMAN--The 2005 Cougar football team opened spring drills on a rain-swept field on Tuesday afternoon. Josh Swogger was under center looking to stretch the defense, Jason Hill was running fly routes and Aaron Johnson was busy abusing the sleds. But on Tuesday, poor weather conditions out on the Palouse hampered players already trying to shake off four months of rust. But that couldn't overshadow some notable gains and losses that have taken place this offseason in the weight room.

The wet conditions on Day One led to a number of players slipping and sliding around Rogers Field.

Normally automatic receptions turned into dropped balls by receivers. Quarterbacks overthrew their targets and the wet pigskin turned a couple passes into one-hoppers. But if years' past are any indication, player's fitness and performance will improve rapidly as spring ball progresses.

Junior quarterback Josh Swogger participated in nearly every drill after rehabbing a plethora of injuries this offseason -- including a broken foot that cut short his sophomore season.

"My legs feel like Jell-O right now," Swogger said, adding it's just regular first day muscle fatigue. "I'm not in football shape right now -- Maybe by the end of this week or the beginning of next week," he said.

Cole Morgan looked very comfortable during the drills on Tuesday. Sporting No. 18, the freshman had good zip on his passes and displayed a quick pair of feet.

TWO WHO IMPRESSED just by walking out on the field before practice were OL Eddie Vickers and DT Matt Eichelberger.

Both have obviously spent a lot of time in the weight room and in off-season conditioning drills -- unwanted pounds have been replaced by muscle. Increased quickness and power was evident for the pair during individual drills.

On the defensive side of the line, the Cougs could field an irresistible force in the middle this year with 600-plus pounds stacked on the inside.

Ropati Pitoitua (6-7) has added considerable bulk in the off-season, checking in at right around 300-pounds. At the other tackle spot, Aaron Johnson (6-6) is up to 310-pounds.

IN THE SECONDARY, coach Ken Greene has his work cut out for him this spring. He faces the same issue as he did this time last year -- a lone returning starter and a bunch of young potential.

"We're gonna find out if the puppies are Chihuahuas or Pit Bulls," said Greene.

Alex Teems, who returns out on the corner, is the inherent leader of the secondary. Teems, who earned his starting spot last year with a stellar spring, has been leading by example this off-season in the weight room.

After last year's 5-6 mark, the Cougars' dedication during off-season work-outs has been driven by the thought that not going bowling two straight years is out of the question.

Notes:
Mike Price was on hand for Tuesday's workout. Price visited with players, coaches, and took time out for anyone else who wanted a minute to talk with the former Cougar coach and current UTEP head man.


Cougfan Top Stories