Regardless of the outcome this spring, the battle for playing time figures to become even more heated in August when the new recruiting class brings in four more corner contenders in JC transfers Devin Giles and Tyrone Justin and prep products Chima Nwachukwu and Romeo Pellum.
Of the corners who will be strapping it up this week, Brian Williams saw the most action in 2006, playing in 12 games and collecting 15 tackles and three pass deflections. Kensok and Walker saw most of their duty on special teams. Dawes was expected to play a major role in the secondary in 2006, but went down with a leg injury in the season opener that shelved him for most of the campaign.
Patterson saw extensive action in 2005 but for academic reasons was ineligible to play in games last season and earned Scout team defensive player of the years honors in the process.
Head coach Bill Doba said earlier this year that the linebacking corps is developing and has solid new talent arriving in the fall with JC transfer Wyman Alexander and freshmen Marshal Pirtz of Boise and Hallston Higgins of Houston. If the unit progresses as hoped, it will further give the Cougars leeway to play more "cover four" in the secondary -- a zone alignment in which each defensive back has territorial responsibilities from the line of scrimmage all the way back to the end zone. Sometimes called "quarters," in this coverage's most basic alignment the safeties handle the entire middle and the corners all of the sides.
A SUMMARY OF POSITION BATTLES ON OFFENSE IS COMING SHORTLY
* Defensive tackle Fevaea'i Ahmu, who broke a foot last spring and again in the fall, will not participate in spring drills this season and may be forced to redshirt. He started 11 games for the Cougars as a true freshman in 2005.
* There will be two new faces on the coaching staff this spring. Marty Long replaces Robb Akey (Idaho head coach) as defensive ends coach and Steve Broussard takes over for Kelly Skipper (Oakland Raiders assistant) as running backs coach.
* Spring workouts will conclude April 14 (Mom's Weekend) with a Crimson & Gray contest that at this point, figures to be more scrimmage than game with the thinking being instead of the 1s and 2s going against the backups and running up a lopsided score, the players will ultimately get more out of it by having the starters go against starters.