PULLMAN -- Not all questions in the secondary were answered by the release of the official depth chart. Late Thursday, Ken Greene talked cornerback, saying whoever starts may not be the biggest issue, as depth will play a key role. At safety, one member of last year's squad won't be playing ball this year. Out on the field, Mkristo Bruce found the end zone, much to the delight of the stop corps.
The left corner slot, across the turf from right side starter Tyron Brackenridge
, has been a topic of much discussion not only this fall, but through spring camp and summer conditioning as well.
The battle had narrowed between senior Don Turner
and junior Markus Dawes
, with Turner gaining the edge in the last few weeks and listed as the No. 1 on the depth chart release late Wednesday. Greene, however, said both players have been very impressive this fall and didn't talk in terms of Turner being the starter.
"Donny's really picked it up the last week and a half, and I am real pleased with his progress," Greene said, following Thursday's practice. "And also, right now, I am real pleased with Markus Dawes."
The battle for playing time is hardly keeping the coach up at night, however, as he said both players will have the opportunity to make an impact this fall.
"With what we have, I think we're going to be able to keep guys fresh, rotate them out a little bit. I feel very good about those three guys," said Greene.
Greene said junior B.T. Walker
, nowhere to be found on the depth chart released late Wednesday, is in the second unit -- a group that also contains Brian Williams
and Ryan Kensok
in the coach's eyes.
"B.T. Walker is in the second group with the corners -- I've got Markus Dawes on one side and him on the other in the second group right now," said Greene. "It's a three-way tie for that third, fourth corner spot. Brian (B.T.) Walker, Brian Williams and Ryan Kensok, they're are all right there, nobody's really established themselves at that spot."
That the backups are continuing to battle it out as fall camp winds down isn't a problem, said Greene.
"The (next unit) is getting better, and by the time we get to Game Two or Three, I think we are going to have some good depth there," Greene said.
The safety positions are a bit more set in Greene's eyes. He reiterated the confidence exhibited by defensive coordinator Robb Akey after Wednesday's session, saying the starting tandem of Eric Frampton
and Husain Abdullah
has been impressive and consistent all fall. Michael Willis
would also appear a candidate to see his playing time increase from last season, and Xavier Hicks
joins Willis on the second team.
One member of the secondary, however, who won't be suiting up this year is senior free safety DeWayne Patterson
, whom Greene confirmed will not play due to academic ineligibility.
"Patterson is ineligible, and won't be playing ball this year," Greene said. It is unknown if Patterson, a true senior, will choose to red-shirt this year, a la Brackenridge last season. Patterson arrived at WSU with three years to play two, having grayshirted at Chaffey.
Thursday's session on the Palouse followed the pattern of late, with the team running through various one-on-one, position-specific, and squad-on-squad drills. The team looks to be preparing for the season opener by cutting back on the big hits.
Aaron Johnson had a nice day Thursday on the defensive line.
The running game continued its torrent play of late, with fleet-footed Derrell Hutsona and Dwight Tardy dancing up the field for several nice gains. Counterpart DeMaundray Woolridge stuck to his technique, literally bulling through the D on some impressive runs.
The defense came to play Thursday, with Greg Trent batting away a Rogers pass in 11-on-11 drills that ultimately found the hands of Abdullah.
The other big play on the day for the defense belonged to DE Mkristo Bruce, who picked up a fumbled Brink snap and took it to the house, with defensive teammates on the sideline going wild. Bruce's counterpart, fellow DE Matt Mullennix, once again sat out the practice with what looks to be a serious knee injury. It wasn't all bad news for Mullennix, however, as the cast protecting his broken hand looks to allow the junior movement of all five fingers.
Quarterbacks Alex Brink and Gary Rogers continued to look comfortable in the pocket, getting the pigskin to a variety of targets.
Although practice was a little more subdued as far as contact, the players are obviously feeling the fire that nine days till opening day will bring. Personifying that sentiment were a couple skill players who got into a brief flare up following a Brink pass to WR Chris Jordan.
The kicking game continues to be a stalemate, as both Loren Langley and Romeen Abdollmohammadi showed flashes, but ultimately lacked consistency. Thursday saw both players don crimson helmets in the session, an aspect to the uniform generally recognizing players who travel, but more likely indicates each is still tied for the top spot -- Some players who will most assuredly travel to Auburn were not wearing the crimson headgear Thursday. Langley was the only kicker to practice kickoffs and punts.