Cougar Notebook: Bursey to fill in for Bumpus?

PULLMAN -- Michael Bumpus' near-record 157 yards in punt returns last week, including his 87-yard TD jaunt in the third quarter, is looking even more impressive now than it did then. Turns out he tweaked his ankle on his first punt return of the night, yet still managed to pile up the gaudy numbers.

The ankle has bothered him all week, however, and Bill Doba says he'll be "a game time decision" Saturday, with JC transfer Lorenzo Bursey waiting in the wings.

Meanwhile, on offense, receivers Trandon Harvey, Marty Martin and Brandon Gibson could all see their playing time increase if Bumpus is sidelined.

There's better news on defense. Husain Abdullah will start at free safety against Grambling State. The Pomona, Calif., sophomore has been recovering from a high ankle sprain suffered during fall camp and saw his first action of the season last Friday against Nevada. DeWayne Patterson has filled in smartly in Abdullah's absence and will likely continue to get turns but Abdullah is the starter, Doba said Thursday.

"I'm real happy with him," said Doba of Patterson. "(Abdullah) has earned the job for right now, that's all I can say. There's always competition, I think you've always got to earn your job and keep it."

In other news, All-American candidate middle linebacker Will Derting was given IV fluids Thursday but is expected to start Saturday.

Doba was highly concerned about a staph infection that has hit two of WSU's players. Starting defensive tackle Fevaea'i Ahmu and redshirt candidate and safety Xavier Hicks each have the malady. Staph infections are highly contagious and Doba said the entire locker room would get a thorough cleaning. Ahmu practiced today and is expected to start.

Tight end Cody Boyd will see his first action of the season Saturday at Qwest Field.

Boyd has been sidelined by bone cysts in his ankle but has practiced this week and coach Bill Doba said the 6-8, 255 junior out of Ferndale will get some turns Saturday.

"He'll play," said Doba. "We'll break him in. I'm not sure how much, but he's going to warm up and play."

* Doba said there will be 40-50 high school players at the game this Saturday. Washington State isn't allowed to interact with them because its considered an away game and this is a period when coaches can't talk in person to recruits off campus. Expected to attend are Cody Habben, Grady Maxwell, Jake Merrill and Keith Rosenberg among others. Rosenberg will be involved in what could be one the biggest high school games in the state this year, as Bellevue takes on national powerhouse Long Beach Poly Friday night.

* Washington State will dress 64 players players and fly to Seattle Friday. A bus will be leaving Pullman Saturday morning for the remaining members of the team, who will wear their jerseys on the sideline.

* Cory Hall, former NFL safety for five seasons, has joined the Cougar staff this year, primarily breaking down film. Hall racked up 234 tackles over his pro career and was pegged to open the season as the starting free safety for Atlanta. He decided to sign with Washington but then concluded his heart just wasn't in the game as a player, but rather as a coach. "He knew Kenny Greene and Kelly Skipper (at Fresno State)," said Doba " If one of our graduate assistants gets a full time job next year, then he'll step in...He'll be a real big aid in recruiting, I think, when we bring recruits to campus."

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