PRACTICE REPORT: D readies for aerial show

PULLMAN -- According to d-coordinator Robb Akey, Washington State's shutdown performance against Idaho last week was just that, last week. Tuesday, Akey discussed some of the intangibles going into the Seattle game, talked about the play of the D so far this fall, and chatted about prospects for an earlier than anticipated return for Fevaea'i Ahmu, the DT's expected place in the lineup, plus more.

Akey is expecting the sky to be filled with pigskins Saturday when the Cougar defense takes on Baylor, albeit those passes will primarily be of the short and intermediate variety if Baylor's first two games are any indication.

"We have a new opponent," Akey said, drawing a comparison between the offensive techniques of last week's Vandals and this Saturday's Bears. "(They) are much more throw oriented, and we gotta go put forth a better performance than last time. Obviously they are a little more throw oriented than the games we've had at this point, so it's going to be a challenge in that respect."

But Akey was quick to point out a new opponent doesn't necessarily mean the Cougs' will change their game plan too much, saying, "We'll play our defense," and noting the team will focus on better closing holes and covering ground, and simply keeping in mind the Bears will likely run a little less and throw a little more than Auburn and Idaho -- Bear running backs carried the ball only six times in a 47-10 win last week.

Akey expressed confidence in the marked improvement the unit showed between Auburn and Idaho. "We performed better, and we played better football," Akey said, "It was a different football team than we played in the first game, and we're supposed to play that way, but I liked the improvement we made and we're going to continue to work on improving things."

THE TIMELINE FOR defensive tackle Fevaea'i Ahmu, who went down with a partial stress fracture in his foot at the tail end of fall camp, is still for Pac-10 play, but Akey expressed cautious optimism that the 6-1, 292 pound starter might be ready to suit up even earlier.

"They're going to look at it again this week and see, I anticipate it's still going to be Pac-10, but there is a remote possibility he'll be available for this game. But that will be based on the X-rays and what the doctor says," Akey said.

Asked if the stand-up play the last two weeks of DT Aaron Johnson will make any difference in the amount of time the sophomore will see on the field, Akey said it is unlikely that Ahmu won't still have the starting nod once he returns.

"Aaron's doing a good job, and that's something we'll talk about, but generally an injury doesn't cost a guy his starting job," Akey said. The coach said the Cougs are likely to go back to the pre-planned rotation of Ahmu, Johnson and junior Ropati Pitoitua at the position, with all three of those players getting plenty of turns.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • It wasn't all good news on the injury front, however, as starting linebacker Scott Davis was injured in Tuesday's session. According to a Washington State SID spokesperson, the senior outside linebacker reportedly strained his Achilles The spokesperson said Davis will be day-to-day.

  • Although offensive line coach George Yarno was not available for comment, the WSU SID confirmed O-lineman Andy Roof underwent X-rays on his broken hand, and the team is waiting to hear from the doctor, but Roof is not expected to practice this week or participate in Saturday's game.

  • The Cougar defense welcomed back some key members to the secondary Tuesday -- safety Michael Willis (shoulder) and corners Don Turner (hip contusion) and Courtney Williams (thumb sprain) all returned to practice. Turner was limited, as expected, and only practiced part of the session. Willis donned a yellow no-contact jersey, and Williams was seen sporting a large cast on his hand.

  • Starting running back DeMaundray Woolridge also returned to practice, participating fully in all the drills and series in the session.


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