SPRING BALL DAY SIX: Big play Wednesday

<b>PULLMAN--Cody Boyd's ankle is coming along just fine, thank you very much. The tight end made an earlier than expected return to live action on Wednesday, contributing one of a number of big plays that drew cheers from Cougar coaches and players alike. Among the highlight reel material, a play involving Michael Bumpus. But unlike so many of the eye-opening performances of his freshman season, this time he didn't have the football in his hands.

The "big play" was a recurring theme on Day Six of spring ball. Cody Boyd and Alex Brink turned in one that drew the loudest cheers from players and coaches alike. Boyd (6-8, 255, Jr.), running full speed towards the end zone, made an adjustment Gumby would have proud of, twisting to grab a Brink bullet with one hand over the opposite shoulder.

Coming off arthroscopic surgery on his ankle, the plan was to hold Boyd out of full contact for another week or two but the Ferndale, Wash., native is getting some live looks already.

AS A TRUE FRESHMAN last year, Michael Bumpus turned in a number of plays belonging on a Top Ten list -- the full extension diving grab in the waning moments at New Mexico to set up the Cougs winning score, the punt return against Oregon where he broke five tackles on his way to the house. On Wednesday out on the Palouse, Bumpus added another one that had the coaches beaming.

If you're going to play wide receiver at Washington State, you're going to work your tail off on the blocking part of your craft. Any wide receivers coach knows the difference between a 6-yard gain and a long touchdown run can be that last defender. Effectively take him out with the WR and it's time to strike up the band.

All the receivers preformed well in their blocking assignments on Wednesday but Bumpus offered up a pancake that called for some extra syrup.

Bumpus -- all 185 pounds of him -- absolutely destroyed a would-be tackler, the wide receiver driving him into the ground. The block was thrown on a linebacker.

ON SATURDAY, coach Timm Rosenbach felt Brink had a mental lapse at the end of the scrimmage, forcing the ball into coverage. So for the 6-foot-3, 198-pounder this week, the goal has been to stay focused and out of those situations. He did so Wednesday, looking composed in the pocket and not throwing into trouble situations -- such as when he calmly hooked up with Jason Hill (6-2, 205, Jr.) on a bomb to the end zone, this one a 45-yarder, during live scrimmage.

Brink is getting the majority of live reps so far this spring in order to keep Josh Swogger (6-5, 245, Jr.) out of harms way as he finishes up rehab on the broken foot that cut his season short in 2004. Rosenbach said that Swogger can get all the reps he will need in 7 on 7 drills.

With Swogger being held out, Gary Rogers (6-5, 228, Fr.) has seen extended turns in live scrimmage this spring. The freshman is coming along nicely, showing some zip on his passes.

ON DEFENSE, the linebacker depth isn't quite as diluted as running back, but its noticeably thinner with Will Derting missing. Filling in this spring for No. 51 is Chris Baltzer (6-1, 225, Jr.) with Scott Davis and Steve Dildine on the outside.

After missing Tuesday's practice with a doctor's appointment, Derting was back at practice Wednesday in a soft cast. Coach Bill Doba said the wrist is healing up just fine, pointing out Derting is still be able to lift and work out. The Lombardi Watchlist 'backer is expected to be 100 percent by June.

  • Wide out Blake Ferguson (5-10, 180, Fr.) injured an ankle and showed up late to practice with a cast on his leg.

  • Defensive tackle Ropati Pitoitua (6-7, So.) is listed this spring at 302 pounds compared to 277 last fall.

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