Cougs face another tough D; News & Notes

ALTHOUGH MANY OF their names aren't seen on the Medical Report, a number of Cougs are playing through aches and pains -- including some of the Cougar defensive centerpieces. SS Eric Frampton is bruised up, CB Tyron Brackenridge was questionable headed into UCLA with a hammy and DE Mkristo Bruce has been battling an ailing knee this season that finally forced him to the sidelines last week.

Bruce has been receiving national recognition for his work this year but more and more are starting to also notice Frampton and Brackenridge.

Frampton leads the team in tackles (81), now has an even 200 for his career and has brought the hammer in the Cougar secondary. Brackenridge leads the team in pass breakups (6) and his play along with Don Turner is what Doba said he was hoping for from the corner position coming into the season.

All three are expected to play Saturday, although Doba would love to get them some rest if he can. The way to do that might be found in the UCLA game.

THE COUGAR NATION this Saturday will probably, said Doba, see a Washington State game plan similar to the past couple weeks -- although he also expects Arizona to be very tough against the thing that the Cougs would like to do most -- the run.

Besides controlling the flow of the game, Doba said this week one benefit to being able to run the ball would be "to try and save our defense. Those defensive guys are banged up. Bruce, as few plays as we can give him and let that knee heal up...It's good to have() Aaron Johnson back, I think that will help us. Frampton, you know he's tough, but he's sore."

The return of defensive end Mike Graise (hamstring) will help shore up the d-end depth to that end as well, joining true freshman Kevin Kooyman behind DE starters Bruce and Lance Broadus.

Saturday's tilt could follow a similar script to last week in Pasadena, a defensive battle until the Cougs seized the advantage in the second half.

Washington State didn't have early success on the ground against a tough UCLA defense. With the score tight throughout, the Cougs could afford to keep pounding away on the ground. The persistence paid off against the Bruins, as WSU gained the vast majority of their 110 rushing yards in the second half to put the game away.

THE COUGS FINALLY HAVE a full complement of tight ends this Saturday. Cody Boyd and Jed Collins head into Arizona as a dangerous 1-1A punch, No. 3 Ben Woodard (knee, MCL) returns, and along with special teams standout Jesse Taylor plus long snapper Tony Thompson, the Cougs are as healthy at the position as they have been this season.

"Both (Collins and Boyd) are playing well, I don't know who they might start but it really doesn't matter because both of those kids are going to play quite a bit," said Doba.

Charles Dillon and Benny Ward are the likely kick returns with Derrell Hutsona (ankle) out this week. Doba likes the way Dwight Tardy returned kicks last week against UCLA but he might try to save Tardy the wear and tear, with the Cougs now less Hutsona. Most Cougar fans have glimpsed Dillon's potential but also don't forget about Ward, the wide receiver has the potential to make an impact over his Cougar career and like Dillon and Hill, he is a skilled blocker.

• Kicker Loren Langley (quadriceps) will not dress for Arizona. Romeen Abdollmohammadi would have replaced the struggling Langley even if he were healthy this week, but Doba earlier also stopped short of saying Abdollmohammadi was guaranteed the job the rest of the year. Michael Bumpus is the probable backup kicker and punter behind Abdollmohammadi and Darryl Blunt this week. Carl Birrell is another option and Reid Forrest has a strong leg, albeit inconsistent technique, and can also punt.

• Against UCLA, the Cougs ran 36 times compared to 38 passes. The week before against Oregon, when the scoreboard dictated the smart move was to keep it on the ground and let Oregon try to play catch up, WSU carried the pigskin 41 times while attempting only 23 throws.

Cougfan Top Stories