Spring ball Day 2: QB battle is joined

PULLMAN - Cooler temperatures couldn't slow down the Cougar football team Wednesday. On Day 2 of the spring season, the battle for the No. 2 quarterback slot behind Alex Brink showed glimpses of a donnybrook shaping up, while on defense Robb Akey is looking for his linemen to prove themselves.

The battle for the Nos. 2 and 3 quarterback spots behind Brink has begun in earnest, with Arkelon Hall, Cole Morgan, and Gary Rogers all making impressive completions throughout the afternoon session.

Coach Bill Doba said defining the second and third string QB roles was one of the staff's priorities this spring.

Hall separated himself from the group on this day with his sheer athleticism, one of the aspects to his game that made him a top recruit coming out of Fresno's Edison High in 2005.

Meanwhile, Brink showed more evidence of why he's the unquestioned starter for the Cougs, throwing crisp passes, consistently showing athleticism and making plays with his feet.

The young running back corps may not be battle tested but they continued to show depth as sophomore DeMaundray Woolridge, junior Kevin McCall, and freshman Dwight Tardy all had impressive workouts Wednesday.

ONE UNIT RETURNING a seasoned group of starters, including All-American candidate Mkristo Bruce, is the defensive line.

"Our defensive line can lead the Pac-10 (in sacks)," Bruce said. "That's our goal, we've done it before, we can do it again."

Joining Bruce on the front four as the strongside end is junior Matt Mullennix, who will be taking over for Adam Braidwood, the only starting defensive lineman leaving from last year's squad.

"Matt has just stepped it up for us, he's been competing with me everyday," said Bruce.

Defensive coordinator Robb Akey said he hopes to see a competitive spring season for the remaining tackle positions.

"Nothing is set in stone so AJ (Aaron Johnson) and A'I (Fevaea'i Ahmu) will really have to prove themselves this spring."

PRESENT, BUT NOT participating in drills this year, was junior tackle Ropati Pitoitua, who missed nearly all of the 2005 campaign with a broken leg suffered near the end of last year's fall camp. Pitoitua, now recovering from a staph infection in the right leg, is a solid player who will have to prove he is up to the task come fall.

"Ropati will obviously have to prove himself since he is a step behind, missing all of last season." Akey said.

Overall, Akey expressed optimism regarding the defensive line, pointing to the experience and strength of the squad as the unit's greatest assets.

Although he still sat out most of the practice with a foot injury, true sophomore Greg Trent participated in some basic drills with the other linebackers, lending optimism to Cougar fans concerned the middle linebacker didn't hit the field with senior teammates Scott Davis and Steve Dildine yesterday.

There will be no practice tomorrow (Thursday) and then another two-hour session Friday afternoon. The first scrimmage of the spring will be Saturday; workouts start at 9:30 am and the public is invited.

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