Spring scrimmage 1: D shines, tempers flare

PULLMAN -- The first week of spring football ended in a short but intense scrimmage on Saturday. With Kenny Alfred and A'I Ahmu both lost to injury, neither side looked game ready but there were several noteworthy plays -- especially by the defensive line -- including a tooth rattling hit by senior DE Mkristo Bruce.

After stretches and a few short warm-up drills, the offensive and defensive units -- sans Alfred and Ahmu -- took to the rain-soaked field in Martin Stadium for some live action. (Click here for the full story on Ahmu and Alfred).

Bruce's hit came about ten minutes before the end of the scrimmage, and was easily one of the most impressive plays of a morning filled with poor tosses, fumbles and missed field goals -- as well as spotty blocking by the offensive line.

The stick on freshman running back Dwight Tardy, came off solid penetration on the right side by Bruce. The tackle was reminiscent of many Bruce had last season. Coupled with solid play by the defensive line all morning -- including penetration resulting in sacks, swatted passes, and tackles by juniors Matt Mullennix, Paul Stevens, and Aaron Johnson -- the optimism displayed earlier this week by defensive line coach Robb Akey seemed especially warranted.

THE COUGAR SECONDARY provided a few bright spots as well, including a nifty play by sophomore walk-on Ryan Kensok who broke up a pass from QB Alex Brink.

Brink, who didn't look quite as crisp as he has so far this spring, did however complete 4-of-7 passes to Finas Rabb III, Jason Hill, Michael Bumpus, and an extremely competent looking junior TE Jed Collins, who had one of the finest offensive plays of the morning when he pulled in a shoestring 12-yard pass from Brink. Collins, moved to tight end this spring from fullback, also threw a number of crunching blocks.

The offense went deep into the depth chart throughout the session, at least partially explaining why the offensive units failed to score a touchdown against their defensive counterparts.

The running game also showed some promise, with sophomore DeMaundray Woolridge and freshman Isao Puailoa both tearing off a couple of nice runs, including a 14-yarder from Puailoa late in the scrimmage that showed off his footwork and agility.

The intensity of the workout was personified in an on-field tussle between defensive linemen Johnson and sophomore offensive linemen Dan Rowlands.

Although kicker Loren Langley looked consistent in practice yesterday, he missed 3 of 4 in the scrimmage.

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