Spring Ball: Day Five

PULLMAN --- Through four practices and a scrimmage, one thing is clear on the Palouse this spring: <b>Mike Price</b> wants his Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback to be in one piece when the 2002 regular season concludes in Hawaii.

Jason Gesser has racked up a mountain of air yardage so far in his Cougar career, but the fifth-year senior who figures to become the most prolific passer in WSU's prolific passing history also has racked up a ton of injuries. And the reason has nothing to do with frailty.

Gesser has the mentality of a linebacker.  If he has the option of running out of abounds or gaining an extra yard by lowering his shoulder and plowing into people that weigh a lot more than he does, he goes full stream ahead. 

In short, Jason Gesser doesn't take care of himself. 

As a back up in 1999 he missed most of the season. As a starter in 2000, he broke a leg against Oregon in Week 9. And last season he absorbed untold amounts of punishment, culminating in a broken throwing hand that he played with in both the Apple Cup and Sun Bowl.

So this spring and again when fall camp opens in August, there's one word emanating from the practice field: SLIDE. 

"Run out of bounds," is a term that's high the list as well. 

As Price told the Tacoma New Tribune recently, "We need to keep him healthy, teach him how to slide and stay away from contact down the field. There are always going to be plays Jason makes and you catch your breath. He is that kind of player. He says he's been driving coaches nuts since I don't when."  

Price's concern for Gesser's health is understandable. While the Cougars look to be a well-rounded bunch co-favored for the Pac-10 crown, the conference's history is unforgiving of inexperienced signal callers. Indeed, every Pac-10 champion over the last seven seasons has one thing in common: An experienced fourth- or fifth-year senior at the offensive helm. 

If Gesser goes down, the Cougar destiny would fall to the hands of underachieving junior Matt Kegel or wet-behind-the-ears redshirt freshman Chris Hurd. 


* With 12 guys competing for one starter's spot at running back, it looks like Jimmy Wilson, a true freshman who saw action last season, will be redshirted. 

* Don't expect Jason David or Josh Parrish to make an appearance in uniform this spring. Cougar coaches are counting on these two starters in 2002, so aren't taking any chances they'll hit the academic wall this spring. 

* Senior receiver Collin Henderson is practicing on Tuesdays and Wednesday with the football team and spending the rest of the week roaming the outfield for the Cougar baseball team.

*Receiver Marty Martin's six grabs – one for paydirt – during last Saturday's scrimmage becomes even more impressive when you learn he played half the day with a particularly nasty calf bruise. Bad enough, it turns out, that he was riding crutches at yesterday's practice. 

*Safety Erik Coleman has been suspended for one week after being cited Saturday for Minor Operating Vehicle After Alcohol Consumption (minor DUI), a misdemeanor.

*When Jeremy Bohannon picked off a Gesser pass on Saturday and returned it 72 yards for a touchdown, it was the first – FIRST – spring interception ever thrown by the Hurlin' Hawaiian.


Cougfan Top Stories