Summer workouts: DBs mess with O's timing

PULLMAN -- With summer temperatures rising on the Palouse, Cougar cornerbacks and safeties turned up the heat this week in skeleton drills and put a crimp into the timing between quarterbacks and receivers. The offense wasn't to be shut down, however, with two backups lighting it up.

Senior corner Markus Dawes put an exclamation point on the secondary's disruptive ways, pulling in a nice interception of an Alex Brink pass. Junior linebacker and co-captain Greg Trent followed with an interception of a Gary Rogers pass in the back of the end zone.

A nervous moment occurred when Dawes -- currently penned in to start at right corner this season -- came down hard and remained on the turf for a period of time. Apparently no worse for the wear, Dawes broke up a pass on the ensuing play.

The offense showed its spark with two 25-yard connections between quarterback sophomore quarterback Kevin Lopina and second-year freshman receiver Anthony Houston. Brink and running back Dwight Tardy turned a short pass into a nifty 15-yard touchdown, prompting an enthused Tardy to put the ball and his vocal cords into the Martin Stadium stands.

Lopina, the transfer from Kansas State who missed much of spring practices with a bad hamstring, is expected to be in a heated battle this fall with Cole Morgan for the No. 3 spot behind Brink and Rogers.

Houston will be one of several players vying for two open positions in the Cougars' five-person rotation at receiver. Brandon Gibson, Michael Bumpus and Charles Dillon own the first three spots. Houston, Keith Rosenberg, Finas Rabb, Benny Ward, Greg Walker, Scott Selby and Michael Willis will compete for the final two.

With the third and last summer school session set to begin next next Monday, 23 players in all participated in skelly this week, including several new faces since last week, such as Trent and fellow linebackers Cory Evans and Andy Mattingly. On offense, one of the new additions was receiver Willis, the converted safety from Tacoma.

The offensive and defensive lines don't participate in skelly drills, focusing their summer efforts on the weight room, technique development and film study.

* Tickets for the Sept. 8 Cougar game vs. San Diego State at Seattle's Qwest Field are on sale through all Ticketmaster Call 206-628-0888 or go on-line at Ticket prices range from $7 to $50. Game time has yet to be determined. Tickets for the game also may be purchased via 1-800-GO-COUGS or online at until August 31. After that date sales will be limited to Ticketmaster outlets.

* The Cougars' Sept. 1 game at Wisconsin will be televised regionally by ABC, with ESPN or ESPN2 broadcast to outer-markets, making the game nationally available. Kickoff is set for 12:30 Pacific Time.

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