Michael Bumpus's Diary: Week Two

PULLMAN -- Over the years I've heard older folks use the term, "You can pay me now or you can pay me later." Apparently it comes from an old TV commercial featuring a mechanic talking about taking good care of your car so you don't have big-time problems down the road. The same thing could be said about playing in the Pac-10. The off-season and summer are the times to fine tune your skills and work on your weaknesses. The investment now means smoother travels when the whistle blows in the fall.

In drills such as skelly we try to incorporate -- and perfect upon -- the finer points of the game we've been taught during spring workouts. For those of you not familiar with the word, "skelly" is short for skeleton drill. It's a 7-on-7 simulation of a game without pads and no linemen. We still call plays and the defense does as well. There is a lot less contact in skelly, which gives the team a chance to build chemistry and engage in some friendly competition.

This is where quarterbacks work on timing with receivers and tight ends. The defense works on coverage responsibilities and building trust with one another.

Every position has its leaders. For the running backs it's Jerome Harrison. Josh Swogger is the man at quarterback, and for receivers it's all of the seniors plus junior Jason Hill. On defense, the line leaders are Adam Braidwood and Mkristo Bruce. The leader at the linebacker position is without a doubt Will Derting. And the cornerbacks are led by Alex Teems.

All these players naturally fill the leadership role well. Every player on the team respects these players greatly. It's easy to work hard when you have people with experience and a lot of credibility pushing you.

I expect a lot of production out of underclassmen on both sides of the ball this season. Guys like Ropati Pitoitua, Aaron Johnson, Benny Ward and Michael Willis come to mind --- as does ol' number 5.

Every good football team is led by players with experience but the upbringing of young talent is important to the success of our program and we have a lot of it.

NOW, FOR A FEW facts and figures that you might be interested to know. August 6 -- All players report, with our first practice the next morning. We'll start with helmets only and then add shoulder pads a couple of days later. Full pads go on August 11 and then two-a-days start August 12.

Here are some other dates I'd like for you all to put on the calendar with a permanent red marker. Thursday evening, Sept. 1, in Martin Stadium. That's when we open the season. I know all of us on the team would like nothing more than to take on the Idaho Vandals with a big throng of Cougar fans in the stands. What a great way to kick off your Labor Day weekend.

Another key date to circle is Saturday, September 17. We'll be coming to Seattle for our annual home game at Qwest Field. We're taking on Grambling State, a school with one of the most incredible football traditions in the nation --- not to mention an internationally renown marching band that will be making the trip. You can get tickets by calling 206-628-0888 or on-line through www.ticketmaster.com.

This will be our fourth straight year playing a home game in Seattle. We've averaged close to 57,000 fans in those games. My personal challenge to all you great fans is to hit 60,000 for the Grambling game.

Well, that's it for this week. If you have some specific topics or questions you'd like me to address, toss them up on the message board and I'll try to get to them in future diaries.

Go Cougs!

Michael Bumpus is a sophomore receiver and return man from Culver City, Calif., where he was a first-team "Best in the West" pick by the Long Beach Press-Telegram. As a WSU freshman in 2004, he set a school record for punt return yardage and earned a place on The Sporting News' Pac-10 All-Freshman Team. Along with defensive end Mkristo Bruce, he graciously volunteered to lend CF.C readers a window unto the world of pre-season Cougar football preparation with a weekly diary.

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