Fall Camp: Day Two

PULLMAN -- Fall practice began Monday morning under a hot Palouse sun but that didn't slow down the Cougs, as an air of intensity continues to envelop the field on what would otherwise have been a lazy summer morning. Even without pads, several players stepped up with big plays during drills, the secondary went skyward and the receiving unit continued to play with talent and confidence.

Temperatures were nearing the low nineties by session's end, but the secondary looked to be working under extra pressure under the watchful eye of defensive backs coach Ken Greene, running through drills quickly and with purpose.

Once the practice shifted to 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, members of both the offensive and defensive units took to battling through the air.

The drills went back-and-forth between the two sides, with quarterback Alex Brink opening the first set of drills with two incompletions before connecting with Brandon Gibson. Brink also made the play of the day, with his feet.

Possibly the finest show of athleticism of the Tuesday drills was seen in a Brink scramble up-field. After rolling out of the pocket, the yellow-shirted captain danced around defenders and ripped off about 20 yards before senior corner Don Turner finally got a hand on him.

With first, second and third team units moving in and out, virtually every receiver got his hands on the ball, with a few pass-break ups thrown in, and one interception by safety Husain Abdullah recorded for the D.

The Cougs also ran through a number of position-specific drills Tuesday, each unit working on basic footwork, strength and strategy techniques.

After the team practice concluded, the rookies took the field alone to run through yet more drills. Redshirt QB Kevin Lopina was on target, finding receivers Charles Dillon, Andy Largent, and Keith Rosenberg for big gains.

Without the benefit of pads it is difficult to gauge all the units on the field, especially the offensive and defensive lines. Everyone looked lively, however, and the practices will see the intensity ratcheted up when the Cougs don full pads for the first time on Thursday. Tomorrow and Wednesday the Cougs will go helmets and shoulder pads following today's helmets-only session.

Practice began a little before 9 am with the kicking and punting units sending balls through the uprights on one end of the field, and into the arms of return men Chris Jordan, Michael Bumpus, and junior transfer Derrell Hutsona on the other.

Joining kickers Loren Langley and Romeen Abdollmohammadi was invited walk-on Carlin Birrell, a freshman out of Skyline high school. Although he practiced mostly before the official start of the session, Birrell looked to have a fairly strong, albeit somewhat inconsistent, leg.

  • Coach Bill Doba has said conditioning can be the edge against Auburn. Because the Palouse heat is dry, Doba said he can put his charges through longer and harder work than Auburn can in the heat and humidity of the South. Also in play, the Cougars' endurance and intensity this early on is due to what many players are calling the most intense voluntary summer workouts in memory. Seniors Mkristo Bruce and Charles Harris told CF.C earlier this summer it was the most intense summer they had been through in their five years. Echoing that sentiment after practice today was Gibson, who attributed the team's strength and endurance this fall to WSU strength coach Rob Oviatt: "Anytime you go through Coach O, you're going to be conditioned," the receiver said, "I'd never experienced anything like (this summer.)"

  • The Cougs' will continue one-a-day practices for the rest of this week, but will begin two-session days on Monday.

  • Freshmen WR Anthony Houston o-lineman Grady Maxwell were on the sidelines, as was rookie walk-on receiver Luke Fowler, out for the second consecutive day pending on an MRI result on his shoulder. Although a trainer will not be available for updates until the end of the week, it is believed that none of the players are out with serious injuries.

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