WSU FALL CAMP: Day Two

PULLMAN--Special teams were special in name only at Washington State last season, but Dave Walkosky has made it loud and clear -- in more ways than one -- that he expects dramatic improvement this fall. Among the rookies drawing praise from Bill Doba on Day Two were Kendrick Dunn and Daniel Blackledge. Meanwhile, the combination of Brink-to-Gibson looked sharp. Read on for all that plus much more.

Walkosky, a loud and lively figure at WSU's first two practices, has a long history as a special teams coordinator. Walkosky is officially listed only as WSU's cornerbacks coach, but Doba has given his newest hire plenty of authority on special teams.

"He has a passion for special teams," Doba said. "I like his philosophy: ‘When you're punting, you're still on offense, and when you're returning, you're still on defense.'"

The first year Cougar coach will oversee the punt, punt coverage and kickoff coverage units, while TEs coach Greg Peterson will oversee the kickoff return team.

Walkosky, who said he loves the fast tempo of WSU's practices -- "Get in, get out" -- said Toledo blocked 28 kicks (punts, field goals and extra points) during his eight years with the Rockets. He had served as special teams coordinator at Toledo since 2003 before coming to WSU in June.

"He has a tremendous amount of enthusiasm," Doba said. "I don't think anyone is going to fall asleep in his meetings."

PRACTICE UPDATE: Michael Bumpus, as expected, practiced Monday. The senior wide receiver missed Sunday's workout due to red tape in processing some academic paperwork.

Bumpus looked sharp Monday along with other key veterans on offense like quarterback Alex Brink and wide receiver Brandon Gibson.

Additionally, Doba offered praise for the performances of five newcomers on Monday: LB Kendrick Dunn, WRs Jeshua Anderson and Daniel Blackledge, CB Chima Nwachukwu and QB Marshall Lobbestael.

Senior defensive end Matt Mullennix appears to be moving well after sitting out last season due to knee surgery and enduring an injury plagued Cougar career. Mullennix, wearing protective braces on both knees, enrolled at WSU in January 2003. Listed as a defensive end starter last year in fall camp before the injury, Mullennix is again atop the '07 depth chart on the strongside.

"He's been here longer than me," Doba quipped.

Safety Terry Mixon, whom Doba said Sunday is playing with a surgically repaired foot, has looked none the worse for wear the first two days and has been going full speed.

INJURY UPDATE: Defensive end Kevin Kooyman, who suffered a strained neck Sunday, participated in most drills Monday. Offensive lineman Brian Danaher watched from the sidelines with a boot on his left foot after suffering an ankle injury Sunday that trainers regard as minor.

Two new offensive lineman, Reed Lesuma and Kennedy High School graduate Kevin Freitag, have been held out of practice due to knee injuries. Lesuma, who is expected to compete for the starting right tackle spot, may be ready for the season opener Sept. 1 at Wisconsin but Doba said Freitag won't be ready until midseason at the earliest and may redshirt.

Doba gave reserve running backs Ian Bell (ankle) and Skylar Jessen (hamstring) permission to wait until school starts Aug. 20 to begin practicing. Doba said he wants both players to recover fully from lingering injuries.

COUGAR TRIVIA: What Cougar defensive star from a year ago is in Miami's NFL training camp as an undrafted free agent?

Answer below.

MONEY MAKERS: The Cougars reported a net operating profit of $159,285 for the past fiscal year. Senior associate athletic director Anne McCoy said the department is $4,668,064 in the black when counting such funds as money for the Martin Stadium renovation projects.

A huge jump in men's basketball attendance helped line the Cougar coffers. Football helped plenty, too, with WSU's home attendance and season ticket numbers ranking among the best in school history.

Most colleges lose money on athletics, but the Cougars usually show a profit despite playing in a small city and football stadium. Also, unlike many schools, the WSU athletic department is required to pay the school for athletic scholarships.

PAPER CHASE: The Cougars received one vote, or they're No. 49 in the nation if you prefer, in USA Today's national coaches poll. USA Today also ran a headline on a recent story proclaiming USC, once known as "Tailback U", as "Quarterback U." That's a title WSU has worn proudly for years, courtesy of Sports Illustrated.

Preseason polls don't matter, the reasoning goes, because you don't play games on paper, they're heavily weighted on last season and in this case, fall camp has barely begun and no coach yet knows what kind of team he has this year. Besides, everyone knows WSU gets underestimated every year, right? In the past 10 seasons, however, the Pac-10 preseason media poll forecast WSU's place in the final standings twice and had the Cougs picked higher than they finished three times.

True, the Cougars also finished higher than predicted five times. In two of those seasons, however, there were ties that roughly placed the Cougs about where tabbed.

The media poll crested the 50 percent top spot success mark a few years ago in picking thanks to correctly forecasting the league champion (or co-champion) and is now going on seven straight years, four of those with USC taking or sharing the title. The streak also includes 2002, when the Cougars were picked first. WSU wound up that year, technically, sharing the conference title with USC but by virtue of their win over the Troy, the Cougs were the Pac-10 champion representative in the Rose Bowl.

It also bears noting the Pac-10 poll in the last 10 years picked the Cougs to finish in the bottom half of the conference in '97, '01 and '03, years in which the Cougs finished in the Top Ten in the national polls at season's end. Southern Cal is predicted to repeat this year, while WSU is pegged eighth.

-- Trivia answer: Mkristo Bruce..


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