FALL CAMP: Day Four

PULLMAN -- Coach Timm Rosenbach on Wednesday issued a surprising declaration when the Nos. 3 and 4 quarterbacks didn't perform to expectations. A challenger for a starting o-line spot tasted his first action. It could be double duty for another receiver not named Michael Bumpus. And Bump, well he made his presence known Wednesday, as did others. Plus, the injury news and a lot more from Pullman.

It's early in fall camp, and it's important to note assigning too much weight to any events in a non-contact practice -- Wednesday's helmet and shoulder pads only session was the last before full contact is scheduled for Thursday -- is often a fool's errand.

But true freshman wideout Jeshua Anderson continues to make highlight-reel catches out on the Palouse, and coach Bill Doba said Anderson could also be returning kickoffs this fall.

"I like kids who can run 10-6 (seconds in the 100-meter dash) and break national records in the hurdles," Doba deadpanned.

Anderson holds the national high school record of 35.28 seconds in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles.

Wednesday's practice ended with Anderson beating frosh cornerback Tyrone Justin for a long touchdown catch on a well-thrown ball by Marshall Lobbestael. Interesting news on Lobbestael in a moment.

Earlier, Anderson twisted and turned to haul in a deep ball by Gary Rogers. Tight end Ben Woodard earned kudos from teammates for a twisting, turning catch of his own.

FREE SAFETY Husain Abdullah, WSU's only returning starter in the secondary, absorbed some good-natured razzing when star receiver Michael Bumpus beat him with a juke that left Abdullah's feet tangled. Abdullah bounced back, covering fleet receiver Brandon Gibson step-for-step down the sidelines to foil a pass from Alex Brink.

Frosh cornerback Chima Nwachukwu, still looking sharp at perhaps WSU's most vulnerable position, maintained tight coverage on Scott Selby deep and picked off an interception.

Senior defensive end Matt Mullennix, who sat out last season after blowing a knee in fall practice, continues to impress in pass-rushing drills.

Doba said Alex Hamill, a fourth-year junior who has been dogged by injuries and seen little playing time, has earned a shot at starting at outside linebacker.

"He's an overachiever," Doba said. "He busts his butt."

COUGAR TRIVIA: Who are the only two WSU football players with retired numbers?

(Answer below.)

TIMM ROSENBACH will forever be remembered by Washington State football fans as one of the most fiery, determined competitors in Cougar history. As a quarterbacks coach, Rosenbach is only slightly less combative and ornery than he was as a player in college and the NFL.

So, when sophomore quarterbacks Cole Morgan and Kevin Lopina came up short of Rosenbach's expectations in the first few practices of the fall, Rosenbach declared Wednesday that heralded freshman Lobbestael is now competing with Morgan and Lopina for the No. 3 quarterback job. Lobbestael blossomed as a senior at Oak Harbor High last year, throwing for 2,776 yards and 34 touchdowns for the State 4A champions.

"We'd like to redshirt him," Rosenbach said of Lobbestael, "but he did a nice job today, so why not put him in the running? Maybe that's what these other guys need -- a little push."

Rosenbach said "we got better play" out of Morgan and Lopina on Wednesday, but added, "They both need to step up."

With starter Alex Brink and junior Gary Rogers solidly entrenched as WSU's top two quarterbacks, the Cougars would obviously prefer to save Lobbestael's year of eligibility.

LINE 'EM UP: Tackle Reed Lesuma, coming off knee surgery, was cleared to practice full-time Wednesday. Offensive line coach George Yarno said Lesuma and older brother Vaughn could be WSU's starting tackles, though the Fiji natives are junior college transfers who have played football for just two years.

"They're great people," Yarno said. "They have great attitudes. They're tough, and they're willing to work. They're a pleasure to work with."

Vaughn, a junior, is competing with redshirt freshman Joe Eppele at the all-important left tackle spot, protecting Brink on his blind side. Reed, a sophomore, is battling redshirt freshman Micah Hannam at right tackle.

"Today was Reed's first (full) practice, and he did great," Yarno said. "I was very pleased with him for the first practice. Now, he's not ready to start in the Super Bowl, but I did like what I saw."

Yarno said returning starters Dan Rowlands and Bobby Byrd (a former tackle the past two seasons) at guard and Kenny Alfred at center "are solid, cemented" as starters in the middle of the line.

NCAA CLEARINGHOUSE STRIKES: If it seemed to good to be true that every Cougar high school signee qualified, it just might have been. Doba said freshman tight end Tyson Pencer has been sent home after the NCAA Clearinghouse balked at some of his academic work. Doba, however, did not rule out Pencer being declared eligible later.

The Canadian was among those the Cougs had talked about at one time after LOI Day in February as being a potential grayshirt candidate.

INJURY REPORT: Two of WSU's running backs, starter Dwight Tardy as well as Marcus Richmond, No. 4 on the pre-fall camp depth chart, sat out practice with a hamstring injury and groin strain, respectively. Doba said he expects both players will be ready for Saturday's first scrimmage at 2:30 p.m. at Martin Stadium.

Sophomore Chris Ivory, a physical specimen whom coaches regard highly and is No. 2 on the depth chart, filled in for Tardy on the No. 1 unit on Wednesday. At 6 feet and 228 pounds, Ivory is 2 inches taller and 28 pounds heavier than Tardy, who led WSU in rushing last season.

Tardy and Richmond were joined on the sidelines by a number of other players with apparently minor injuries, including expected key contributor Terry Mixon (hamstring). Doba had already expressed concern about Mixon's extra weight incurred due to rehabbing a foot injury. Mixon, said WSU head trainer Bill Drake, is likely to be held out of Saturday's scrimmage for precautionary reasons.

WR Anthony Houston pulled hamstring and trainer Bill Drake said his injury was of a more severe grade than those of Tardy's, Richmond's and Mixon's. Houston, already with a cast on his wrist after a July 5 surgery, had been held out of some of the drills the first four days. The cast comes off later this month but with the hammy pull, Houston now is out indefinitely according to Drake.

-- Trivia answer: Mel Hein (7) and Jack Thompson (14).

UPDATE:
The official injury report from WSU released late Thursday afternoon.

AUG. 8: Out Indefinitely – Brian Danaher (ankle sprain), Kevin Freitag (knee sprain), Anthony Houston (wrist surgery/hamstring strain), Terry Mixon (hamstring strain), Tanner Way (hamstring strain). No Practice – Chris Baltzer (knee sprain), Dwight Tardy (hamstring). Limited – Lance Broadus (shoulder surgery), Marcus Richmond (groin strain).

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