Back to the 'normalcy' of change for Cougs

IT ONLY STANDS TO REASON. Last week's win in Corvallis saw the Washington State offensive line at full strength for the first time all season, and the unit probably had its least impressive showing of the year against OSU. The Cougar hosses appear headed back to the shuffling routine against Cal, with news that starting right tackle Charles Harris is dinged up and doubtful for Saturday.

Charles Harris was injured in yesterday's helmet and shoulder pads-only practice when a player tripped and inadvertently fell across the back of Harris' legs, injuring his ankle.

The 6-6, 323-pound senior hoss out of Spokane has played through such ailments over his Cougar career as a hyper extended elbow -- where he failed to miss even a single practice snap. But Harris may have met his match this time, according to Bill Doba.

"If he doesn't start, it will be the seventh straight week that we have had a different starting lineup on the offensive line," said Doba. "he hopped around on it a little while but he couldn't run. We iced him and he was in for treatment all (Thursday) morning. Right now, I'd say he's kind of doubtful."

The Cougs' Mr. Versatile, Sean O'Connor, would likely start at his third position this season if Harris is unable to play, adding right tackle to his previous stints at left guard and left tackle.

Doba said Bobby Byrd would start on the other side at left tackle, with Kenny Alfred and Josh Duin at center, and Andy Roof and Dan Rowlands at the guard spots if Harris can't play.

Harris is the only player on the offensive line this season to have started every game at his position.

A GAME TIME DECISION is the outlook for Jason Hill (shoulder sprain). The senior receiver practiced yesterday wearing a no-contact yellow jersey.

"We'll just have to wait and see how he warms up," said Doba.

Even if Hill can go, he might not be available to play the whole way. Look for Charles Dillon to get increased turns, with Benny Ward and Finas Rabb among the candidates to help starters Michael Bumpus and Brandon Gibson shoulder the load.

Also a game time decision will be Lance Broadus, who aggravated a groin muscle injury he's had all year. The junior defensive end is questionable for Cal, with Doba saying they'll have to see how the defensive end warms up before determining his availability. Speedy Mike Graise is next on the depth chart, followed by true frosh Kevin Kooyman.

Michael Willis and Andy Mattingly will both play after missing last week. Markus Dawes (high ankle sprain) also looks like he'll probably see his first action since the opener at Auburn, said Doba.

TE Cody Boyd (ankle) is out, with the Medical Staff still waiting on the swelling to go down enough to evaluate the extent of the injury, whether it's a high ankle sprain or a "regular" sprain. Jed Collins gets the start in Boyd's place. Tight end Jesse Taylor (knee) should also be back, said Doba, on a limited basis.

There are also the usual assortment of bumps and bruises, said Doba.

DOBA SAID while important that the Cougs don't let Cal run away early on as they've done throughout their five game win streak, WSU can't get caught up trying to blunt the vaunted Cal offensive attack by trying to milk the clock themselves on offense.

"I don't think we can sit on the ball, just try to run it -- I think we have to play our game, too," said Doba.

Defensively is where Doba said he has the most concerns, despite the fact the Cougs have been playing fairly stout D as of late.

"You can't give up big plays, and that's the thing that probably worries me the most with Jordan, Hawkins and DeSean Jackson's speed outside -- it's going to put a lot of pressure on our corners," said Doba, who added that adding safety help over the top in Cover-2 then yields less of a run defense and opens up the opportunities for two good Cal running backs in Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett.

ONE THING THAT could work in the Cougs' favor is the 'week after effect', said Doba.

Washington State played a tough, physically and emotionally draining game against USC. And the following week, the Cougs did not look nearly as sharp against Oregon State. The same could hold true for Cal following the Oregon tilt last week.

"For them, and I could be wrong, but they just came off a very emotional game," said Doba. "It was (the) game of the week, they were jumping up and down on the video and sky high going into that thing, kind of like we were for 'SC."

"And you can talk and preach all you want, but that next game, I don't know. You tend to lose focus and I don't know if they can come in two weeks in a row that fired up. But they really played well against Oregon."


Cougfan Top Stories