Practice Roundup: Levy talks O, Rogers, line

PULLMAN – The WSU offense closed fall camp in fine form, but the only true measure of progress will come Saturday evening at Auburn, WSU offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller said after Wednesday's padless practice. In a wide-ranging interview, Levenseller talked about line depth and the chances of No. 2 QB Gary Rogers getting a series of snaps each game, a la Matt Kegel under Jason Gesser.

In regard to the progress of the offense, Levenseller said, "We're to the point right now where it's wait and see -- wait and see what happens on Saturday night."

He said the 6-7, 234-pound Rogers, who put together a fine camp, could be in line for one or two series of snaps each week, though not likely Saturday. The Cougars did the same thing for Kegel when he was No. 2 to Gesser.

"There's a chance (Rogers will see time)," Levenseller said. "I'm not sure about this weekend, but there's a chance that could happen -- very much so -- down the road. We'll see what happens in this game, and go from there."

Rogers' play throughout August, especially in the scrimmages, pleased head coach Bill Doba, who said earlier that he liked what he'd seen from the big sophomore from Mukilteo.

As for the Cougars' offensive line, which looks to have a solid starting five in tackles Bobby Byrd and Charles Harris, guards Sean O'Connor and Dan Rowlands, and center Josh Duin, Levenseller said the unit's lack of proven depth is a concern. The top three off the bench – center Kenny Alfred, tackle Derek Hunter and, when his surgically repaired thumb is ready, guard Andy Roof – have a collective 11 college game appearances (all Roof's, mostly on special teams) among them. The rest of the unit is mostly young and the two next in line on the depth chart, Scott Friberg and Justin Luafalemana, are both walk ons – and both are nursing injuries.

The lack of depth is a concern, said Levenseller, but one that hopefully won't turn into a problem. "It's an issue, obviously when you're taking some young guys and asking them to play. It's an issue. Last year we had the same five guys take almost every snap all year, and other years you don't have that luxury. So yeah, depth is a concern."


MARKUS DAWES
On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Robb Akey clarified the cornerback position, saying that Don Turner and Tyron Brackenridge will be the starters at Auburn, with JC transfer Markus Dawes the first off the bench.

After that, however, the picture becomes more vague. Akey reiterated recent comments by secondary coach Ken Greene, who said sophomore Ryan Kensok and juniors Brian Williams and B.T. Walker were in a tight battle for the other second-string spot.

"Hopefully we'll see them (Walker, Williams and Kensok) helping us in the special teams, and what we're going to do is continue to work them reps as time goes by, and keep trying to build our depth in that backfield. Akey said.

For Wednesday's biggest news on defense, click to Akey preps for life without Ahmu

NOTABLE NOTES:

In a practice that was dominated by minimal contact, low-intensity and position-specific drills, the Cougars got extremely fired up at the end of Wednesday's session, when kickers Loren Langley and Romeen Abdollmohammadi went head-to-head in what was essentially a "kick-off" in Martin Stadium. With both players given seven chances, and the players and coaches on the sidelines giving a remarkably vocal entourage of encouragement, both players produced mixed results. Each made 4 out of 7 field goal attempts.

Today the Cougars will take the practice field for the final time before boarding their charter plane Friday morning for Auburn.

For the second day in a row, the sound system at Martin Stadium was cranked to the max with taped crowd noise blaring. Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium, which seats more than 87,000, is known for its serious decibel levels.

The Cougars' new snapper for PATs and field goals is Pete Hill, a 6-1, 230-pound walk on from Wenatchee. He comes by his talent naturally. His dad, Mike Hill, was a standout guard for the Cougars under Jim Sweeney in the early 1970s. The Cougars' snapper on punts – Tony Thompson – also comes from stellar bloodline. His dad is Jack Thompson.

JC transfer quarterback Garrett Congdon, ticketed to walk on at WSU this season, shifted gears when touted Kansas State QB Kevin Lopina decided to become a Cougar. Congdon is now at Division I-AA Missouri State, where he's locked in a battle for the starting job. M-State opens against Oklahoma State this weekend.

Saturday's game at Auburn is set for kickoff at 4:45 Pacific Time, and will be televised on ESPN2. The announcers will be Ron Franklin, Dr. Jerry Punch and Ed Cunningham.


QUARTERBACK GARY ROGERS

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