Greene is succinct: Corners aren't cutting it

PULLMAN –- During his playing days, as a WSU All-American and NFL mainstay, Cougar secondary coach Ken Greene built a reputation as a hard hitter. So it comes as no surprise that he would cut straight to the chase when asked how things are shaping up at cornerback -- one of the team's biggest areas of concern heading into the '06 campaign. He didn't name names, but made it clear that the two guys penned in as starters coming into the spring could find themselves playing second fiddle this fall.

"I expect the safeties (Husain Abdullah and injured senior Eric Frampton) to be there (in the starting line up in the fall), but it'll probably be something different at the corners," he told CF.C Thursday after the final workout before the Crimson & Gray game.

Abdullah and Frampton are returning starters from last season. At corner, where the Cougars must replace Alex Teems and Wale Dada, Tyron Brackenridge came into spring slotted as No. 1 on the right side and Don Turner No. 1 on the left side. Both are entering their senior seasons.

Brackenridge, a touted JC transfer in the 2004 recruiting class, redshirted last year to focus on grades. Turner has been a backup the last three seasons but is no stranger to action, having played in 34 straight games and posting 25 tackles and an interception last season.

"Individually, some guys have really risen to the challenge, and helped themselves because of it. Other guys have not performed the best that they can, and have hurt themselves -- it's been frustrating for me to watch, and they are just going to let other guys roll right on by them in the fall if they don't get on it," Greene said.

The wrap on Turner since he joined the program in 2002 is that he has yet to live up to the high expectations put on him coming out of Spokane's University High. He has appeared to struggle more this spring than Brackenridge, who had two interceptions in Thursday's practice.

Of those who helped themselves this spring, Greene mentioned sophomore corner Ryan Kensok, a walk on from Spokane, and two safeties: Abdullah and sophomore Michael Willis.

Asked about junior college cornerbacks Brian Williams, B.T. Walker and Markus Dawes -- each of whom is expected to enroll at WSU if their academic houses are in order -- Greene didn't get specific but said incoming corners this fall will be looked upon to provide more than depth. "I'm counting on them to play. There's got to be two of them that can play so we can have some good, solid corner spots. I am counting on them to play, and we'll see soon enough if they can."

Williams, Walker and Dawes are all believed to be on course to qualifying academically.

To say the Cougars are thin on experience out on the island is an understatement -– there are only three scholarship corners currently on the roster (Turner, Brackenridge and sophomore Ian Bell). Moreover, the Cougars' pass defense is in serious need of assistance. WSU ranked ninth in the conference last season in aerial D, surrendering an average of 318 passing yards per game. The Cougars also gave up 23 TD passes while intercepting only eight balls.

Greene said incoming freshman Kerry Maddox, an athletic quarterback from Tyler, Texas, is slated to play corner at WSU and could also offer immediate help.

"He might be the best ... he just hasn't played cornerback, so I am excited to work with him," Greene said.

Maddox, who has been timed at 4.43 in the 40, didn't play defense in 2005 because of his duties behind center but was an all-league defensive back in 2004. This past season he led John Tyler High to the playoffs for the first time in five years. He threw for 1,900 yards and picked up 670 on the ground.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS for this upcoming Wednesday, April 19, at 7 p.m. PT when Jeff McQuarrie, the producer and director of an upcoming new film about the colorful history of Cougar football, will be answering questions in the CF.C chat room. We've had a sneak peak at several segments of the film and it is nothing less than amazing. The film will premier later this year, capping years of work by McQuarrie. Along the way he talked to a Who's Who from the Cougar Nation, including Keith Jackson, Drew Bledsoe, Marcus Trufant, Mike Utley, Steve Gleason and many more. The film will include a countdown of the 15 greatest teams in WSU history. Head to Legends of the Palouse for more info and plan to check in back here at CF.C on the 19th at 7 pm.

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