FALL CAMP: Day Three

PULLMAN—It was helmets and shoulder pads only Tuesday but the intensity was more that of a full pad session -- with a few spirited 'discussions' occurred between the offense and defense -- before, during and after play. Meanwhile, one of the two units asserted themselves most. A couple rookies were again singled out by Bill Doba for their performance. Plus, a bunch of crimson-hued news and notes.

Things got a little testy out on the Palouse on Day Three. But in a good way, according to Doba.

Doba said after practice what stood out most to him was the high intensity on the field, the WSU head man clearly enamored with the day's spirited play. It wasn't full contact, there was no hitting -- that won't come until Thursday. But the players seemed more than eager to start the hitting right now.

The general rule of thumb in a fall camp is for the defense to be ahead of the offense, in part because the O takes a little more time to find their rhythm. And that certainly held true out on the Palouse Tuesday, with the defense carrying the day -- on more than one occasion, the quarterbacks were hurried.

FS Husain Abdullah nabbed an interception, his second in as many days, on a deep ball and SS Christian Bass closed fast to deflect away a would-be completion. The attitude that typified the practice was best found in a two play sequence.

There was a little extracurricular pushing and shoving after a Dwight Tardy run ended when the running back and defense met at a crossroads. The following snap, LB Greg Trent wasn't about to give an inch, and let Tardy know he was there. The Cougar defense, along with the defensive sideline, went bananas. Tardy and the offense, however, simply shrugged and went back to work.

On offense, wide receivers Daniel Blackledge and Jeshua Anderson both came in for praise from Doba for the second day in a row. It's not full contact yet and one who reads too much into the play at this early stage does so at his peril. Plus, the receivers unit is the deepest position on the team. But both rookies, it is safe to say, have impressed and are making strong cases here in the early going.

Tight end Jed Collins turned in a nice grab and run on a Brink pass late in the session.

COUGAR TRIVIA: Who holds the WSU record for passing yards in one game?

(Answer below.)

RUGGED SCHEDULE: Washington State's slate is regarded as one of the toughest in the country, and for good reason.

Not only do the Cougars open the season at No. 7 Wisconsin on Sept. 1, but they make their Pac-10 debut at No. 1 USC on Sept. 22. Other tests await with No. 12 California and No. 17 UCLA in the USA Today Top 25 coaches poll, and the Cougars travel to Cal on Nov. 3, one week after UCLA comes to Pullman.

Doba, however, doesn't sound intimidated about opening at powerful Wisconsin.

"It's a great challenge going to Wisconsin," the Cougar coach said. "It's a great experience for our alums. Hopefully, it will be a great experience for the kids."

TICKET UPDATE: As of Aug. 6, ticket sales for the Cougar Gridiron Classic vs. SDSU at Qwest Field in Seattle stood at 17,157. Compared to last year's pace for Baylor at this time, 2007 ticket sales for the game are 1,192 ahead. Season ticket sales continue to run within 1/2 of 1 percent of the pace at this time last year. WSU's ticket allotment for Wisconsin has been sold out for weeks.

For season tickets and for tickets to WSU's Cougar Gridiron Classic, call 1-800-GO-COUGS or go online at wsucougars.com. Prices range from $7 to $50 for the Sept. 8 game.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Safety Terry Mixon did not finish practice with an undisclosed injury -- It did not appear to be serious. An injury update on the team is expected to first be released by WSU later this week and possibly tomorrow evening. CF.C will publish the injury list in a forthcoming article -- and will first post it on the Luxury Suites as soon as we receive it for our subscribers.

  • A good part of the session, the offense stuck to a more controlled offense, with Alex Brink on target in his short and medium range throws.

  • Defensive end Preston Brooks left the team this summer. The redshirt freshman-to-be was down the depth chart and determined his playing prospects would be enhanced if he were to transfer, with an ultimate destination yet to be determined.

  • Star WR Michael Bumpus is one day behind the team due to missing the first day as red tape processing some academic paperwork and so could not don shoulder pads. He will strap them on tomorrow and then his first day of full contact will not be until Friday.

  • Wednesday's practice session, Day Four, will be the final one before the Cougs go full pads on Thursday. With the full contact that comes on Day 5, more begins to emerge at all the positions -- and will in particular start raising the curtain on some of the playmakers on the offensive and defensive lines, running backs and linebackers.

  • Speaking of the offensive line, while there was no hitting today, such small matters will never preclude line coach George Yarno from expressing displeasure if everything is not done perfectly. But Yarno's volume was turned down several notches Tuesday, seemingly indicating a level of satisfaction with the hosses' effort and play up front on the third day of camp.

  • RBs Tardy and Chris Ivory both found good holes to run through on two occasions but they closed quickly, the defense swiftly closing and surrounding the RBs before pulling up in the non-contact session.

    -- Trivia answer: Alex Brink, (515 passing yards at Oregon State in 2005).

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