Despite academic toll, Bruiser likes RB corps

FIRST-YEAR COUGAR RUNNING backs coach Steve Broussard talks with the precision of someone who knows his subject inside and out. Ask him about sophomore Dwight Tardy and the response is laser focused: "A tough, physical player who runs hard." Ask about senior Kevin McCall, the team's leading rusher during spring workouts, and Broussard's eyes twinkle with a number: Zero.

"He's had trouble in the past consistently holding onto the ball," Broussard said of McCall, a 5-11, 218-pounder from Carson, Calif. "In the spring, he didn't fumble one time –- not in the scrimmages or in any of the practices. No fumbles."

McCall was the Cougs' leading rusher in the spring, carrying the ball 27 times for 106 yards in three scrimmages.

Over the last three seasons of real games he has seen the majority of his playing time on special teams, carrying the ball just 18 times for 115 yards.

"Kevin can help us this season," Broussard said two weeks ago at the King County Cougar Golf Classic co-sponsored by "He had a productive spring and needs to continue gaining more confidence in himself."

He said Tardy, the Cougars' leading rusher last season with 667 yards, will enter fall camp as the No. 1 back. Tardy, a 5-11, 212-pounder from Santa Fe Springs, Calif., lacks top-end speed, but compensates with a hard-nosed style of play, Broussard said.

The coach said he expects sophomore Chris Ivory, a 5-11, 213-pounder from Longview, Texas, to give Tardy a stiff challenge when camp opens August 3.

"Physically impressive -- he can do it all and he has a burst," Broussard said. "He has to learn the system better, but he has good talent -- I'm eager to see what he can do this year."

Ivory's spring season was cut short when he headed home to Texas to be with his mom, Judy, who was in the hospital with a serious illness. She's now doing well and Ivory returned to Pullman in early May, said Broussard.

In the one spring scrimmage he participated in, Ivory rushed eight times for 60 yards. Last season, as a true freshman, he was a special teams fixture. On offense, he carried the ball just three times, but he took the second one 80 yards for a TD against Idaho.

Broussard said Marcus Richmond (6-1, 200), a second-year freshman from Mesa, Ariz., possesses a lot of raw talent but is still green. "I see Marcus contributing on special teams right now and working his way into the backfield. He's a good worker and a good kid."

"We've got some good kids," said Broussard, who joined the WSU staff in February following Kelly Skipper's move to the Oakland Raiders. "Each one brings something special."

Also in the mix this fall will be incoming freshman Logwone Mitz (6-0, 220) of Redmond, and second-year freshman Skylar Jessen (5-10, 202) of Spokane, who missed all of spring with hamstring issues.

Head coach Bill Doba has said Mitz, the son of former Seattle Seahawk Alonzo Mitz, could see immediate playing time. Mitz was the No. 11-rated prep fullback in the nation last season, but is athletic and fast enough to play tailback.

As reported on the CF.C Luxury Suites message board previously, Derrell Hutsona and DeMaundray Woolridge, each of whom ran into academic hurdles, will not be back this season.

BROUSSARD SAID HIS AIM for this season is to build on the great momentum created by Skipper. And priority one, in light of all the injuries on the offensive line in the spring, will be to get the hosses and backs gelling in August. In addition, he wants to improve the blocking technique of his backs, and bolster the mentality they bring to that aspect of the game.

Befitting a former first-round draft pick who led the Pac-10 in receiving one season and in rushing another, Broussard also said his troops will be working on their pass-catching skills. "It's all about confidence that you can do it -– we're going to get that confidence up."

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