New Cougar DE coach likes what he sees

PULLMAN — After 11 seasons in Tucson and Reno, the toughest adjustment for new Cougar assistant football coach Marty Long may be the weather. He knows the Pac-10, having spent eight seasons at Arizona. He knows Bill Doba, having worked with him at The Citadel. But the cold, rain and snow that forced the Cougs to cancel Tuesday's scheduled practice is all new to the defensive ends coach.

"Weather -- a little different," Long said this week when asked about the biggest adjustment to WSU after the last three seasons at Nevada. Regardess, though, "I am having a great time," he said, "but still unpacking a lot of boxes."

Long is known for an analytical mind and outstanding recruiting skills. But he's also got a sense of humor.

Asked Monday if he'd be up for a quick interview, he answered sternly, "Nope."

As the reporter searched for a reply to the unexpected broadside, Long broke into a grin, extended his hand and said, "I'm just joking -- go ahead."

Long takes over for a corps that has lost all-world Mkristo Bruce, but still returns solid talent. Senior Lance Broadus, who started every game opposite Bruce last season, is back. So is Mike Graise, who saw considerable action off the bench in 2006. Senior Matt Mullennix, ticketed for the starting line up a year ago before blowing a knee, also returns, though he's not partaking in contact drills this spring.

There's also Kevin Kooyman, who played last season a true freshman, plus second-year freshmen Asly Jean-Jacques and Preston Brooks, and sophomore walk on Bob Hilgert.

Long's expectations for the defensive ends are straight forward: to win and to improve. "I would like to say we are ahead of schedule, but as far as I am concerned, I think we are a little behind schedule. (We are) changing a few things technique-wise, but the guys are working really hard at it, and its showing on film."

It's too early in camp -- four practices, two of them padless -- to assess individual performances, he says. "But, I will say that I am excited about what I see."

He said that having Mullennix on the field has been one of the biggest positives of the camp so far.

"It's a big surprise," Long said. "He's not in contact drills, but close-quarter things down there he's able to do, and it looks like he is on pace to where the doctors say he'll be ready to go for fall camp."

In a conference all with reporters on Tuesday, Doba said he likes what he's seeing at defensive end. He said Broadus has improved, and Graise, Kooyman and Jean-Jacques are benefiting from the extra work they're getting with Mullennix limited to no-contact. Brooks has been ill but should get a chance to show his stuff soon. Doba said the unit as a whole needs a lot of reps to get to where he wants it to be. He's also looking forward to JC transfer Jesse Feagin's arrival in the fall.

THE SHORT OF IT ON MARTY LONG:

* In Long's tenure as DL coach at Arizona under Dick Tomey, the Wildcats twice finished No. 12 in the nation in rush defense and were No. 8 in that category in 2000.

* Doba's thoughts on Long: "Marty is a great hire for us ... I have followed the teams he has coached for and seen him at various clinics over the years. He is an excellent defensive line coach and we are fortunate to have him on staff."

* Long spent two seasons on the staff of the Canadian Football League's Baltimore Stallions. They won the Eastern Division title as an expansion team in 1994 and finished with an 18-3 record in 1995, culminating with the Grey Cup title.

* A native of Rock Hill, S.C., Long received his bachelor's degree in math and computer science from The Citadel in 1986. He and his wife Donna have a son Jerrell and two daughters Anna and Kayla.

NOTABLE NOTES:

* The Cougars will return to the practice field today and Thursday and close out the week Friday with their first scrimmage of the spring.

* Doba will be featured on Ian Furness' show on KJR Radio (950 AM) in Seattle tonight (Wednesday) at 7:15 PT.

* WSU basketball standout Ivory Clark has talked with Doba about playing football. Clark told the head coach he wants to explore his professional basketball options, but there's a possibility he might show up in pads for the last week of spring owrkouts or perhaps for fall camp. Doba said it's completely up to Clark. Doba envisions him as a defensive end. Clark, a fourth-year senior with no more basketball eligibility, would have one year of football eligibility.

* Peter Hill, the snapper for field goals and PATs, is out with a bum knee that could be career threatening, Doba said. If he can't go, then long snapper Tony Thompson could step in. Walk on Brett Allanson also could be a candidate for the placekicking snaps.

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