No offensive line controversy here

PULLMAN -- The Cougars looked sharp in Tuesday's practice as the team prepares for its first road game of the young season at Nevada on Friday. Among the session's highlights were an acrobatic effort from tight end Jesse Taylor, and veteran-like showing from Omowale Dada, and a coach putting an end to rumors of unrest at one position.

After backup right tackle Spencer Hollison logged significant playing time in last week's season opener against Idaho, speculation arose that starter Charles Harris could be a grip on his spot. Offensive line coach George Yarno did his part to quell any rumors, though, saying yesterday that there was no right-tackle controversy on this team.

"Charles is the starter," Yarno said. The coach said Hollison's playing time came from the simple fact that the 6-foot-6, 305-pounder had earned the opportunity to get some snaps from his showings during practice. "Spencer deserved to play, that's all," Yarno said.

Earlier in the week, Doba had a slightly different take. "One wasn't playing that well and we wanted to take a look at Hollison, and Hollison went in and played well," said Doba the day after the game.

Husain Abdullah, slowed by an ankle injury since the latter stages of fall camp, was slated to start at free safety going into the season. He was again working mostly with the No. 2 defense on Tuesday. Abdullah returned to limited duty last week, and defensive backs coach Ken Greene even said that Abdullah was going to play against Idaho, although DeWayne Patterson would start. But at game time Abdullah's ankle was still sore, so he was held out of action. With just a couple days left until the Nevada game, Doba said that Patterson will start again and the practice reps certainly bore that out.

THE PLAY OF THE DAY on offense was turned in by Taylor, the primary backup to Troy Biennemann while Cody Boyd is injured.

Running an out route during a red-zone offense drill, Taylor dove toward the sideline for Josh Swogger's low pass, tipped the ball to himself with one hand, and secured it in his mitts just as he slid out of bounds.

The defensive play of the day happened on the opposite practice field, also during a red zone drill. Scout team quarterback Arkelon Hall rolled out far to his left, and just as the rush was coming, turned around to his right and lobbed the ball across the field for freshman wideout Reid McEllrath near the goal line. But cornerback Omowale Dada, who had seemed to anticipate the play all along and never left his post, was right there and leapt high for an interception right in front of McEllrath.

Another perhaps overlooked defensive play happened when freshman linebacker Jason Stripling ran step-for-step with tailback Dwight Tardy in pass coverage for a good 40-45 yards down the field. The pass was overthrown, but had it been on target, Stripling was in prime position to make the breakup.

NOTES:
Today is Doba's 65th birthday.

Roc Green returned to practice. He isn't wearing pads, though, and hasn't participated in mose drills. The Fresno, Calif., product has been working out on his own on the field after everyone else is gone; running, backpedaling, etc. Green's younger brother was killed last month along with a fellow teammate at Edison High in a car accident in Modesto. Roc, a former Edison and Fresno CC football standout, was enroute to Pullman with his father to start his Cougar career when the tragic news arrived. The younger brother, Rashaad, starred last season at Edison with new WSU quarterback Arkelon Hall and was expected to be one of the top running back prospects on the West Coast this season.


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