SCRIMMAGE THREE: Offense runs roughshod again

<b>PULLMAN–Be afraid. Be very afraid. Martin Stadium is a very scary place these days, with The Ghost haunting any and all would-be defenders. The third scrimmage saw another lights out performance by several offensive playmakers including Jerome Harrison, whom his Cougar teammates have bestowed upon a fitting nickname. Coach Bill Doba saw incremental improvement in the Defense but oh, that high octane offense continues to be the talk of the town.

Jed Collins scored three times, on runs of 1, 2 and 26 yards, leading the Cougar ground attack with 98 yards on 15 carries. But Jerome Harrison (5-9, 208, Sr.) once again put on the show that had the Crimson Faithful buzzing, averaging 10 yards a carry and scoring two touchdowns of his own.

So what else is new. Over the three scrimmages, Harrison has 235 yards on 23 carries, with 5 TDs. His performance this spring is made that much more impressive given how little he's played. With Harrison the only scholarship tailback in camp, the Cougs have been very careful not to overextend him during live drills. That doesn't mean the Cougar Nation shouldn't expect to see plenty of Harrison once the season begins.

"If we can keep Jerome healthy, I don't plan on taking him out," Doba said. "He's really special. The kids call him 'The Ghost'. He's there and he's gone. He's kind of a phantom, hard to see. He has had a great spring."

One Harrison highlight came when he took the ball left and then reversed direction to the right side of the field. He picked up a block, slipped a tackle, and then went 40-yards in a flash, not slowing down until after he broke the plane of the end zone. The Kalamazoo, Mich., native looked like he was running downhill. Harrison's increased ability to break tackles and run people over this spring after adding 15-plus pounds has definitely been on display this spring.

THE COUGARS amassed 452 yards of offense and seven touchdowns on the day. Doba said he was both excited about the offensive showing and a little disappointed in the defensive performance. It's obvious that the D is still missing a vital leader and member.

"When you put Will Derting back in the middle of the defense that makes us much better," Doba said. "He gives everyone more confidence."

A lack of assurance is decidedly not in evidence on the other side of the ball.

"I think our offense is ahead of where it was last year," Doba said. "We seem to be moving the ball and have a lot more confidence."

The first unit o-line of C Nick Mihlhauser, LG Sean O'Connor, RG Norvell Holmes, RT Charles Harris and LT Bobby Byrd seem to be gaining more of that confidence each week. And the defensive secondary, while a work in progress, is beginning to show a little of that swagger as well. Coach Ken Greene is feeling better about the group as a whole.

"We have a lot of young kids in the second group and we have a long way to go," said Greene. "But they are working hard and getting better each week. I cannot complain about the work ethic, we just have to continue to progress."

ONE DEFENSIVE BACK making a serious play for PT this spring is Eric Frampton. The 6-0, 206-pound junior made a outstanding read and interception on a Gary Rogers (6-5, 228, Fr.) pass Saturday, taking it 45-yards to the house.

"Eric is a good player and is getting better every week," said Greene. "He is a full speed guy all the time and is going to be a dynamite player who will make a lot of plays."

ALSO SHINING BRIGHT Saturday were the tight ends -- both as offensive weapons and as blockers. Sure-handed Troy Bienemann (6-5, 255, Sr.) appears more and more poised for an honors-laden season, catching four passes for 83 yards. One pass to Bienemann from Alex Brink (6-3, 198, So.) went for 50 yards and a score.

"Troy is playing extremely well at a very high level," said coach Robin Pflugrad.

Pflugrad explained one reason why.. the job Bienemann does from the meeting room to the gridiron. Pflugrad said a lesser player might take one or two things, but Bienemann has the ability to take everything from the meeting room out onto the field and then excel at it.

Pflugrad also noted how vital it is to the production of the Cougar offense when the tight ends get the ball. It opens up the entire offense.

After spending the last three days catching everything under the sun, Cody Boyd (6-8, 255, Jr.) dropped a would-be Rogers touchdown pass on Saturday. Pflugrad was disappointed with that play but pointed out Boyd has caught the ball very well in traffic of late, with the goal remaining to become automatic.

Just as important as catching the ball, Boyd and Co. on Saturday did a great job of run blocking, evident in the numbers Harrison and Collins -- spending some time at tailback given the lack of depth at the position -- put up in the second to last scrimmage.

Alex Teems (neck), Ian Bell (ankle), and Brandon Asuega-Stark (ankle) all saw limited time on Saturday as they continue to heal up. Chris Baltzer (6-1, 255, Jr.) also saw limited action because of a leg injury.

The kicking games continues to be a point of weakness and might be getting to where it's a mental thing rather than mechanics. But Doba feels that today, some of the troubles could be placed on a new snapper with Riley Fitt-Chappell out with a strained arch.

The Cougar defense had two INTs and one sack on Saturday. Along with Frampton's pick, linebacker Steve Dildine (6-1, 226, Jr.) intercepted a Brink pass in the end zone, with Brink appearing to force the ball. DE Jason Roberts had the sack.

Kyle Basler had punts of 42, 55, 46 and 41 yards.

Rushing – Collins 15/98, Harrison 9/90, Parker 8/19, Morgan 1/8, Moss 2/3, Rogers 1/-12, Brink 2/-2
Passing – Brink 13/26/1/117/1, Rogers 10/18/1/135/1
Receiving – Ostrander 2/14, Boyd 3/28, Bienemann 4/83, Bumpus 1/8, Martin 5/27, Harrison 1/4, Curtis 2/14, Woodard 1/2, Prator 2/24, Selby 1/42, Unknown 1/6
Scoring – Harrison 1 run, Frampton 45 interception return, Bienemann 50 pass from Brink, Harrison 40 run, Collins 1 run, Selby 42 pass from Rogers, Collins 2 run, Collins 26 run

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