Practice notes and Doba quotes

PULLMAN -- Running back Kevin McCall, out of action for the last month with a leg injury, looked solid Tuesday in his first day back in action, getting into the end zone a few times on short-yardage drills and catching the ball well. His return allows the Cougars to save the redshirt on freshman Dwight Tardy, who dressed for the Nevada game last week as an emergency backup for Jerome Harrison and DeMaundray Woolridge.

Based on how repetitions were divided Tuesday, it appears Woolridge, who gained 133 yards against Nevada, is ensconced as the No. 2 back behind Harrison, with McCall No. 3. Brandon Asuega-Stark and Jed Collins also are in the mix, but primarily as blocking fullbacks.

Defensive tackle Aaron Johnson was held out of practice after he suffered a right knee contusion against Nevada. He isn't expected to miss Saturday's game against Grambling in Seattle. In his place, senior Bryan Olson joined Fevaea'i Ahmu on the first-string defense.

Tight end Cody Boyd, out since August with an ankle injury, was back Tuesday for his first full-pads practice, but was on "limited duty" status.

Husain Abdullah, still nursing a high ankle injury that has kept him sidelines through the first two games, worked out with the first-string defense, but understudy DeWayne Patterson also got a healthy number of reps with the No. 1s. With Abdullah back, the second unit secondary consisted of Patterson, safety Christian Bass, and corners Ian Bell and Don Turner. The third unit consisted of safeties Michael Willis and Courtney Williams, and corners Lorenzo Bursey and Shelton Danzy, who rotated with Tyron Brackenridge. Brackenridge is a definite redshirt this season and Danzy is likely to be as well.

Receiver Thomas Ostrander got a warm reception from several teammates after showing up on the field in street clothes. He had been in Seattle for a week receiving treatments for his back ailment. He is out for the season.

Josh Duin, a fourth-year junior from Kentlake, this Monday learned from head coach Bill Doba that he has earned a scholarship after three years of hard work. Duin, who checks in at 6-3, 311 pounds, is currently No. 2 on the depth chart behind senior Norvell Holmes at right guard. Duin also plays center.

Xavier Hicks, a true freshman defensive back, was named outstanding scout team defensive player for his work leading up to the Nevada game. Walk on Jesse Baines was named on offense. Two more freshmen, both special teams standouts, were recognized as well: Linebacker Cory Evans with the "assassin" award and safety Courtney Williams with the "iron man" award.

Speaking of the youngsters, head coach Bill Doba noted in a conference call with reporters Tuesday that the Cougars' newest crop of recruits --- 12 of whom have played this season --- is better than the so-called experts rated them back on signing day in February.

Doba also noted that this week's opponent, Grambling, declined the usual courtesy of sending the Cougars film from their 44-0 victory last week of Alabama A&M. No hard feelings, though, Doba says, they're just trying to win a ball game. Grambling's hard-ball move is no surprise in light of the fact Tigers head coach Melvin Spears is seeking a forfeit victory instead of a make-up game against his alma mater, Alcorn State, which cancelled its game with Grambling because Hurricane Katrina knocked out power in that part of Mississippi.

Bring a backpack to Qwest Field on Saturday! WSU is teaming up with New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason, a star linebacker for the Cougars from 1996-2000, to help kids whose educations have been sidetracked by Hurricane Katrina. Gleason and the WSU College of Education have launched a program to collect backpacks filled with school supplies for children. The filled backpacks can be dropped off at Qwest Field on Saturday when the Cougars. To help out, simply choose a grade level, buy a new backpack and load it up with supplies appropriate for that grade. Please label the pack with the grade level.

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