Lots of doings on Planet Coug

CRIMSON NEWS APLENTY on the cusp of fall camp. WSU coach Bill Doba has depth concerns at defensive end, but there's good news on the injury status of two Cougs. A linebacker, though, will wait to pad up, a mid-September return more likely. Some incoming class rookies are waiting on clearance and one, for the time being, will stay home rather than be in Pullman on Sunday, plus a whole lot more.

There are often a few delays on incoming rookie class members each season and 2006 will be no exception. Doba said the Cougs are waiting on clearance for three 2006 class signees -- cornerback B.T. Walker and defensive tackle Bryan Tarkington are both junior college transfers. WSU is also waiting on some red tape involving prep running back Marcus Richmond and also his clearance. Doba said Richmond would not be in town when camp begins Sunday.

"He's still being evaluated, he's going to stay home until we find out for sure, he still has to get word from the Clearinghouse," said Doba.

Some context here -- while never certain a player is in until he gets that green light and takes the field, this also doesn't signal the Cougar Nation should start thinking worst case scenario on the three. Keep in mind some of the Cougs held out of past opening fall practice sessions, as in plural, awaiting clearance and red tape include the likes of Jerome Harrison.

Generally, a student-athlete can enroll all the way up to the 12th day of school, although none of these situations are expected to take anywhere near that long to be resolved. The concern is that after the first few fall practices come to pass, depending on position and ability, every additional missed day on the field can put a rookie behind. The first day of classes at Washington State is August 21. The Cougs open the season at Auburn on Sept. 2.

Fall camp kicks off Sunday with a 4:00 pm special teams session followed by a full team, helmets-only practice at 4:30.

AT DEFENSIVE END, Doba said at Pac-10 Media Day last week Lance Broadus, expected to provide depth and a speed rush off the edge behind starters Mkristo Bruce and Matt Mullennix, might miss the start of camp but already running following surgery to re-attach a ligament. Broadus may still be held out of the camp's opening for precautionary reasons but Doba sounded more optimistic this week. When he returns, the early camp issue for Broadus will likely be conditioning since he couldn't fully participate in the voluntary summer session.

Doba said DE Mike Graise, too, is coming along smartly and is expected to be ready to go this weekend. The 6-3, 217-pound sophomore broke the navicular bone in his wrist earlier this spring.

"Broadus is back and running and Graise seems to be doing just fine," said Doba.

ONE PLAYER CAN often mean the difference between being well stocked and suddenly short on depth. At linebacker, Jason Stripling's healing shoulder will keep him out of contact in the near term -- the tentative return time for the outside linebacker is mid-September.

There had been speculation in at least one preseason magazine WSU might put a redshirt on the true sophomore this season. Doba quashed that Thursday. There are no plans to fit Stripling with anything other than a crimson playing jersey in 2006.

"That is not in our thinking," said Doba. "We don't have that much (linebacker) depth."

One newcomer who could help fill some of the void is Spokane linebacker Andy Mattingly.

As part of Cougfan.com's Opening Day fall camp coverage, check back later this weekend for a special Sunday article on that linebacker spot and on Mattingly, one of the Cougars' recruiting class gems. We don't want to give away too much but part of the piece involves Mattingly, defensive coordinator Robb Akey, a bear and an axe. Tune in Sunday.

THE COUGAR COACHING STAFF was just outside of Spokane this week, in Cheney observing a Seahawks' practice as they've done in years past. While nice to get out of the office and visit with Cougar greats Marcus Trufant and Robbie Tobeck, this was a business trip. Doba said the coaches picked up on some useful things from the NFC champions.

"They were very, very hospitable," said Doba of Mike Holmgren and staff. "Very cordial and receptive...there will be some things that we'll incorporate."

There were also plenty of smiles and good natured ribbing for Tobeck. The former Cougar hoss and four Hawks' linemen were selected to attempt to successfully catch four punts for the right to extend curfew by an hour. It all came down to Tobeck, who actually has pretty good hands. But with everyone chanting his name, Tobeck couldn't secure the purchase on the pigskin. Holmgren gave the center one more chance but alas, Tobeck missed.

"Tobeck's comment was 'Well, we didn't have that good a practice so I didn't think we deserved it,'" said Doba.

WASHINGTON STATE also regularly sends it's staff to learn from other college programs. It seems odd to think of one school giving away "secrets" to other schools, but it's a regular practice in the college football offseason. Doba said Leon Burtnett and Ken Greene went to school on some programs over the summer but the Cougs didn't do as much of that as they have in years past.

"We pretty much looked at ourselves to see what we needed to do," said Doba.

• Cougfan.com once again plans to bring you wall-to-wall coverage of Cougar workouts, from the first practice Sunday right up till camp breaks before the Auburn season opener.

• Next Thursday, August 10, is the date of the first-ever Cougfan.com Night at The Village Pub in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood (3221 W. McGraw St.). Things will start at 6:30 pm. All Cougar fans are invited. We'll have a couple of special celebrity guests, a door prize or two, and a hot-off-the-presses report from our reporters covering workouts in Pullman. We're also planning to show video highlights of season's past. The first 10 pitchers are on CF.C's tab, so come one, come all and let's talk up the Cougs.

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