Big loss on OL means juggling act for Yarno

WSU GUARD Andy Roof has been suspended for the fall semester and football season following a series of legal and personal troubles, and o-line coach George Yarno will be forced to reshuffle his already thin unit. Roof, a fourth-year-junior from Spokane, started five games the last two seasons and was expected to become a key cog this year. What it all means for the line and offense going forward.

This is the second of 5 new articles scheduled to go live on CF.C today.

With Roof, who did not participated in voluntary summer workouts, out of the picture, the most likely scenario would appear to be for Dan Rowlands to slide over from right tackle to the right guard spot vacated by Roof. That move, in turn, would then seem to dictate that the right tackle position would be filled from among the unproven trio of second-year freshmen Micah Hannam and Joe Eppele and sophomore JC transfer Reed Lesuma.

The rest of the starting line figures to be returning starters Kenny Alfred (center) and Bobby Byrd (left guard) and JC transfer Vaughn Lesuma at left tackle.

Vaughn and Reed are brothers, with Vaughn pegged the starting left tackle coming out of spring ball. Both of the Lesumas are believed to have huge upsides, yet the fact is this will be their first year at the Pac-10 level and a learning curve would almost certainly be expected.

Eppele has the Cougar coaches thinking he can be a good one -- the 6-7.5, 277-pounder is put together and boasts impressive athleticism and agility. But his short Cougar career has thus far been injury riddled and he'll need to show he can stay healthy in order to contribute.

Hannam, who will be a redshirt freshman, has shown steady improvement and had a very good spring, with line coach George Yarno telling CF.C subscribers in a recent chat session the 6-4, 292-pounder is a "very intelligent and competitive young man," two attributes the Cougar line coach prizes more than size.

Additional candidates who could contend for playing time through other machinations on the line would include Grady Maxwell and Jacob McKinney. Among the walk-ons, Nick Cantlon, Scott Friberg and Chris Prummer all, in Yarno's words, "have a shot." Cantlon, in particular, had a "tremendous spring" among the walk-ons, said Yarno.

The incoming freshmen include Kevin Freitag, Steven Ayers and Andrew Roxas, with Freitag the most physically ready to play coming in according to Yarno.

NEVERTHELESS, LOSING ROOF is a big hit -- the Cougar o-line proven depth was already sparse before Roof's departure for the semester. Washington State has a policy that results in a one-semester suspension after three alcohol violations for which Roof has been suspended, coach Bill Doba confirmed.

What will help soften the body blow is Yarno's unique system, one predicated on each lineman being so well schooled as to be able to move into virtually every other spot. It's a more difficult system to learn, and it takes longer, but it's benefits are more keenly realized when injuries, or in this case, a suspension, rears it's head.

Roof, who hopes to return to WSU in January, was most recently involved in a July court proceeding stemming from a DUI and 3rd degree driving with a suspended license charge in May. The disposition of the DUI on July 12 was deferred prosecution, while the suspended license charge remained pending.

Deferred prosecution, pursuant to RCW Chapter 10.05, in part states the charges against the individual will be dropped if a number of requirements are met over a period of time. Included are admitting the need for treatment, recognition and acceptance of an alcohol or substance abuse problem, there are no additional incidents during an established period of time, often a number of years, as well as other crieria. Deferred prosecution may also enhance penalties for any subsequent offenses committed within a seven-year period.

Roof, Doba said, has recognized that he has a problem and has undergone treatment this summer. He also has been working a summer job and will be continuing this fall to earn money to pay off his legal fees.

Roof's academics were in good standing with the University, which would seemingly enhance his prospects for a return to Pullman and the football team in January.

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