Doba offers up spring razzle dazzle

COACH BILL DOBA said while the Cougs will be focused on the fundamentals when spring ball kicks off tomorrow, they may also implement some razzle dazzle into their practice sessions. The Wazzu head man's spring outlook picked up right where he left off at the end of last year, with lots and lots of injuries to report. And there are newcomers and redshirt freshmen who have golden opportunities.

Doba said the staff will look to implement some new schemes on defense and offense, and some will be of the high octane variety.

"I'll tell you one thing I think we need to do and I think Boise State did a heck of a job with it, they put in all that stuff in the spring, the kids practiced all those reverses, the shovel pass...the hook and lateral, they put all that in during the spring and the kids practiced it all summer. So we might look at a few of those kinds of wrinkles....A lot of it kind of depends on who you've got, who's left and who's healthy," said Doba.

And that's not as long a list as the coach would like.

IN THE COUGAR BACKFIELD, Dwight Tardy is the starter but the group under new RBs coach Steve Broussard will this spring be missing two of the main contributors from '06 -- DeMaundray Woolridge is working to gain academic clearance and Derrell Hutsona will be taking the spring to concentrate on his classwork.

"The running back position is a concern. I think Dwight Tardy is solid there. But we also really want to look at Chris Ivory and Marcus Richmond, the two young kids, and Skylar Jessen, and get a good look at those guys, see if they can help and how they've come along," said Doba.

AMONG THOSE COMPETING for playing time at tight end will be Trevor Mooney, one of the Cougs' bigger recruiting gets in the class of 2006. Along with Jed Collins, Tony Thompson, Devin Frischknecht and Ben Woodard, Mooney, said Doba, made the most of his redshirt season last year.

"He really had a good year on the scout team and I think Trevor will be able to help us," said Doba.

WHILE THERE WILL be position battles this spring -- the Cougs' will have new starters take the field against Wisconsin in the opener at both corner and outside linebacker spots, SS, d-end, tight end, right tackle and guard -- Doba said the No. 1 goal of the spring will be about developing depth.

That could mean some starters, on some days, might not see as much playing time since the coaches already know what they can do. Alex Brink is the clear starter at quarterback, but expect the Cougs to take long looks at Gary Rogers, Kevin Lopina and Cole Morgan this spring.

"Gary Rogers is the backup but we want to take a good look at Kevin Lopina and see where he fits in and give those three guys (Rogers, Kevin Lopina, Cole Morgan) a lot of reps," said Doba.

UP FRONT, Dan Rowlands and Andy Roof would appear the frontrunners for the No. 1 guard and tackle spots but plenty of others will have the chance to earn playing time.

"Hopefully Joe Eppele can come through, he's a kid we thought would be pretty good and Micah Hannam is another young kid we expect to get some work out of," said Doba. "Eppele has a long ways to go, he hasn't had any work (due to injury) but when you watch our kids run 40s and such, he looks the part. He's what you're looking for -- a big tall kid who can run with long arms. He could make a great left tackle."

Vaughn Lesuma, also a contender for the starting right tackle spot this fall, will be held out of spring contact while his surgically repaired navicular bone (wrist) heals up. The JC transfer is one of many who will miss all or parts of the spring.

DT Fevaea'i Ahmu will miss the spring session and could even be redshirted this year as he heals up from a broken foot. Fellow d-tackle Aaron Johnson will miss at least part of the spring due to classwork. Matt Mullennix is out as is Chris Baltzer (knee surgeries) and Grady Maxwell has a tweaked knee.

Michael Willis, moved to receiver from safety, will miss all or part of the spring while he rehabilitates from shoulder surgery. As mentioned, Hutsona will sit out the session while Woolridge is continuing to work on improving his grades at Spokane Falls C.C.'s satellite branch in Pullman. D-Wool would have summer school and then the application process to complete before he would be able to return. Doba also said there may be one or two more who would be held out of spring to concentrate on their classwork.

"There's no sense in practicing if they're not going to be here," said Doba. "The thing they have to realize it's the most important thing."

WIDE RECEIVER is perhaps the deepest position on the Cougs' roster, said Doba. The three starters, Michael Bumpus, Brandon Gibson and Charles Dillon look are backed up by experienced depth in Benny Ward, Finas Rabb, Greg Walker and others, plus keep an eye out for Anthony Houston, who looks to have considerable potential after redshirting this past season.

Doba, who will coach the linebackers with Leon Burtnett moving downfield to coach the safeties, was very high on his corps Wednesday afternoon with Jason Stripling, now at full health after being injured all last year back and joining Greg Trent, Cory Evans and Andy Mattingly. While DB recruiting gems Terry Mixon, Devin Giles, Chima Nwachukwu and others will arrive this fall, expect safety Cornorris Atkins and Xavier Hicks to be two of the players to get plenty of reps and chances to shine this spring -- so too should DeWayne Patterson, whom Doba said; "So far, so good," as to his academic progress.

"Defensively, our big concern is in the secondary," said Doba. "I think one strength of the defense is we have four really good linebackers -- Evans, Trent, Mattingly and Stripling, and we want to get a lot of work for Mattingly and Stripling...and Trent's pretty solid at the middle linebacker, but we've got to get some depth."

WITH MULLENNIX OUT, Mike Graise and Kevin Kooyman will get plenty of turns along with starter Lance Broadus. Doba is a 4-3 guy, and that's how the Cougs will open spring ball but Doba left open the possibility of returning to the 3-4 depending on how the spring and fall develop.

"Kooyman just needs (playing time), but I think Kooyman is going to be really good," said Doba. How they (all) develop) will determine whether we're in the 3-man front again or a 4-man front."

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Doba said he had not heard from basketballer Ivory Clark as of yet to see if he was interested in giving football a go. Much could depend on his professional basketball prospects but if he were to join the team, defensive end appears the most likely spot but he could also be someone who could possibly play tight end.

  • Romeen Abdollmohammadi and Loren Langley will be battling for the starting placekicker duties. One factor will be hang time and length of kickoffs, with the NCAA rule change this year moving the ball back to the 30-yard line. "I'll tell you what, kickoff and kickoff return team just moved up in importance," said Doba.

  • With the departure of Kelly Skipper, the Cougs will go with more of a group approach coaching the special teams:
    Kickoff Cover - Walker
    Kickoff Return - Peterson
    Punt Cover - Burtnett
    Punt Return - Greene
    Field Goal / XP - Yarno
    Field Goal / XP Block - Long

  • Darryl Blunt would seem to have a good handle on the punting duties but Doba has also been impressed with the big-leg potential of Reid Forrest.


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