Receiving corps depth facing Stanford test

PULLMAN -- Washington State suddenly finds itself banged up, and Wednesday the team was missing another starting receiver -- Chris Jordan. Starting cornerbacks Alex Teems and Omowale Dada were back in action, however. Coach Bill Doba broke the latest news about injured defensive tackle Ropati Pitoitua, while offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller offered some thoughts on his suddenly depleted receiver corps.

Receiver is one of the deepest positions on the 2005 vintage of the Cougars. Good thing, because the two starters have been slowed this week by injury.

Chris Jordan has been battling back and hip flexor problems all season, which caused him to miss one practice last week. Jordan sat out again Wednesday, along with Jason Hill (quad contusion).

Doba said both players would play Saturday against Stanford, but wasn't sure how much they could contribute. In their place, Trandon Harvey, Brandon Gibson and Greg Prator took most of the snaps with the first-unit offense.

Harvey had what Doba called his best game as a Cougar against Oregon State, nearly topping the century mark with four clutch receptions -- all in the fourth quarter -- for 92 yards.

"Trandon has looked good, and he did a good job last week," Levenseller said after practice.

When asked about Prator and Gibson, Levenseller said, "They've got to help; Brandon more so this week."

THE OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR and wide receivers coach said Gibson played well in his limited action against Oregon State, including his kickoff returns. Still, Levenseller pointed out that Gibson is a true freshman.

"Brandon has to earn my trust," he said, adding, "Greg has to make plays when he has the chance to do so."

One receiver the Cougars should be able to count on this week is Michael Bumpus. The sophomore Wednesday was a favorite target of quarterback Alex Brink, as the two hooked up for several scores against the scout-team defense. Bumpus made a number of nice grabs throughout the session, consistently getting open.

"If J-Hill and Chris can't play, I know I'm the next in line," Bumpus said. "I've been preparing like I'm the go-to guy."

After spending his freshman season making more noise as a punt returner than on offense, Bumpus has made big strides as a receiver over the last year.

"It's been a total 180," Bumpus said. "Technically I'm a lot better. I'm stronger. I'm more sure of myself this year. I look at it like I wasn't even really a wide receiver last year. I look at the film and it looks nasty sometimes."

Bumpus added that he's still learning the position, with this only his fourth year playing receiver dating back to high school.

DOBA HAD SAID defensive tackle Ropati Pitoitua, who has missed all season with a broken leg, might play one week earlier than expected against Stanford -- if he was able to return to practice by Wednesday. But Pitoitua was still in street clothes, and Doba confirmed that the sophomore wouldn't play this week.

When asked about next week against UCLA, Doba said, "We'll see."

Alex Teems and Omowale Dada were both back in pads, although neither seemed cleared for all-out contact. They did take a majority of the snaps with the first-string defense, though

Also in the secondary, Michael Willis and Courtney Williams each played as safeties in several drills, but Williams played corner with the scout team.

NOTES

Gibson and Lorenzo Bursey remain the first-team kickoff returners, with DeMaundray Woolridge and Benny Ward serving as the backups.

Linebackers Greg Trent and Jason Stripling each looked good Wednesday, patrolling the middle and making plays. Both could see extended action Saturday as Washington State looks for the right combinations to replace Will Derting.

Husain Abdullah had an interception, a couple of pass break ups and a pair of strips against the 2s. Willis also had a pick.

A scout from the New York Jets was at practice. Rumor has it he was there primarily to check out Jerome Harrison.


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