FALL CAMP DAY 8: Battle at QB heats up

PULLMAN -- With the opener a little over two weeks away, the battle for the starting QB job is heating up. After a Saturday scrimmage marked by inconsistency, Alex Brink and Josh Swogger each ran the offense through a two-minute drill Sunday morning. The kickers, however, looked improved. A true frosh took his shot filling in at middle 'backer Sunday. Plus, the injury report has three new members -- Mullenix, Pitoitua and Bell. And the day is only half over, the Cougs practice later tonight.

Two-a-days continue Sunday, with this evening's practice slated for 7:30. In a light Sunday morning session, Alex Brink ran the first team offense against the first defense while Josh Swogger led the 2's against the second team defense.

Coach Bill Doba said after practice that no decision had been reached as to who would start at quarterback against Idaho on September 1 and also said his two lead slingers would continue to split time with the first unit in practice.

The bottom line is neither Brink nor Swogger has been consistent enough thus far and the naming of a starter doesn't appear immiment.

Brink, however, did look sharp Sunday morning. He marched his unit down the field into a fourth down situation near midfield. The defense held, but coaches ordered the drill forward anyway.

Brink then capped the drive with a 30-to-40 yard fade to Jason Hill, catching the receiver in stride in the right corner of the end zone. Brink was five of five on the drive.

Swogger hit receivers in the flat on consecutive plays before throwing incomplete on third down. On fourth down, Swogger found tight end Jesse Taylor for what would have been close to first-down yardage, but Taylor dropped the pass and practice came to a close.

Gary Rogers also took limited snaps with the first team offense in undefended passing drills.

AT MIDDLE LINEBACKER, Greg Trent, Chris Baltzer and Brian Hall have all taken snaps with the first team in place of Will Derting, (hamstring). Derting will be held out approximately two weeks as the coaches don't want to take any chances with the All-America candidate.

Trent, a true freshman out of Keller, Texas, took snaps with the first team defense at middle 'backer during the two-minute drill Sunday morning.

THE KICKERS were a combined 6-of-7 during Saturday's scrimmage, with Graham Siderius and Loren Langley each connecting from 21, 32 and 36 yards. Both were also good on the lone point after attempts they were offered. Langley was responsible for the only miss Saturday, failing to connect on a 39-yard attempt

"Not much is different," Siderius said in comparing last fall camp to this August. "We know each other better, become pretty good friends. Not much different than that. A battle's a battle."

Both Siderius and Langley have made changes in their kicking styles. Known for his leg strength more than his accuracy during his first three seasons, Siderius said he is focusing on sacrificing some of the boom in an effort to connect on more field goal attempts.

"Just hasn't really paid off," he said of having a strong leg. "Kind of taking a page out of Drew Dunning 's book in terms of, he didn't have the greatest leg, but the guy was as accurate a kicker as you're going to get."

Dunning is the all-time Cougar leader in career points. Siderius said he's already noticed improvement in accuracy and height.

Langley's changes were a little more technical, saying he's worked on getting back to his high school form after picking up some pressure-induced bad habits in his first season at Washignton State.

"I have a year under my belt now and I'm going into camp a lot more confident just in my kicking ability itself," Langley said. "There's not much we can do besides just kick. Whoever (the coaches) like better is who they're going to put on the field."

Matt Mullenix (hip), Ropati Pitoitua (thigh bruise) and Ian Bell (ankle stiffness) joined the injury list Sunday. All three are day to day. Mullenix missed Friday's evening practice, played Saturday and then was out again Sunday. Trainer Brian Oelke said the defensive end experiences pain in the hip from time to time.

Oelke said Bell rolled his previously injured ankle in the scrimmage, but didn't expect the cornerback to miss much time.

Arkelon Hall is home for the funeral of Rashaad Green, brother of Cougar walk-on Roc Green, and a high school teammate and friend of Hall's. Green was killed in a car accident Sunday. Hall will return Tuesday, Doba said.

Doba said receiver Blake Ferguson informed coaches he would be going home, but Doba was unclear as to the details and said he intended to talk with Ferguson.

Check back later tonight for the evening report on the 7:30 practice.

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