Life of a scout team quarterback

ANOTHER DAY OF practice, another interception. That's the way the practice reports for Cole Morgan and the scout team quarterbacks usually read last season. But there was a good reason for that -- one most fans aren't aware of and Morgan himself is not complaining about.

At certain times, most times, really, the scout team QB must throw to the primary receiver, no matter whether he's double- or perhaps even triple- covered.

Just throw it. That's the job.

It's a team-first concept -- the backups are there to get better, but they're also there for the benefit of the No. 1s to help prepare them to play that week's opponent. That includes the most visible position on a football team, the quarterback. It can be difficult for a competitor to go against his nature, to actually try not to make plays.

"It's kind of tough because we do have to throw into triple coverage and the defense gets all pumped," Morgan says. "If we had a choice, we would've maybe run for 20 yards but I'm definitely not complaining."

Afterwards, you get to enjoy some good natured ribbing. Morgan's locker is in close proximity to those of defensive backs Husain Abdullah, DeWayne Patterson, and Don Turner. Abdullah, in particular, likes to get out the needle.

"Husain and I are pretty good friends," said Morgan. "I get him back every chance I get."

AS A GRAYSHIRT, Morgan received the bonus of an extra spring session not available to most high schoolers. In the long run, grayshirting has been lauded as a benefit by those who have gone the route. But in January of '05, Morgan hadn't played for a year and a half. He did all he could the previous winter, throwing to receivers at Ballard High, working out on his own. But for a quarterback, these are mere substitutes for the real thing.

A couple days after putting his boots on the ground in Pullman, Morgan was telling Nick Mihlhauser he had never dropped a snap in high school. 'Let's go', said the Cougars' center.

"I couldn't catch a snap," said Morgan. "That's how much it had digressed from a football standpoint. Mihlhauser gave me plenty of (grief) for that."

A year later following the spring session, Morgan's improvement is evident, particularly in his ability to read coverages. Fellow redshirt freshman Arkelon Hall has also made some nice strides.

"They're hard to separate, so I'll talk about them together," coach Timm Rosenbach told CF.C following the spring session. "They'll go into fall competing to be the third guy. Rob Oviatt (WSU's strength and conditioning coach) has done a great job with them – Arkelon has dropped some extra weight and built muscle and Cole has put on 15 to 20 pounds and improved his arm strength."

In the fall, Morgan and Hall will see less reps than they did this spring, with the focus squarely upon getting the starters ready for Saturday. That can make it difficult for the backup QBs to find the zone.

"My biggest concern is figuring out how to get them on the field. It's tough to get good, quality reps (for everyone)," Rosenbach says.

THE QUARTERBACK QUARTET of Alex Brink, Gary Rogers, Morgan and Hall did exactly what Rosenbach asked during the just-concluded spring season: improve. Morgan said the same was true of others.

"I think spring went real well, I think me and Arkelon did get better," said Morgan. "But I think all of us got a lot better. Not only the quarterbacks but the team in general. Kenny Alfred was playing really well. Tony Thompson made some big catches. Benny Ward, actually. He played real well. Scott Selby also showed a big improvement, I thought."

In a one-on-one after the spring, Morgan and Rosenbach were in agreement on the next step -- consistency.

"My footwork has gotten a lot better since that first spring but I feel like I've got a long ways to go," said Morgan. "Me and Arkelon, we just have to be real ready. I just need to get better at the little things -- and consistency."

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