PULLMAN—In the first full pad session on Thursday, one unit clearly seized the upper hand. New assistant Dave Walkosky lauded the play of a trio at corner. Read on for the rundown on the kicking game and snappers. Plus, the 2008 schedule is completed and a new opponent named. A regular adversary, however, is off the slate for ‘08. Alex Brink picks up a preseason honor and the latest injury news.

A lack of performance at the corners has been at the center of many defensive meltdowns at Washington State in recent years but Walkosky, the energetic first year CB coach, said he's encouraged by early results in fall camp.

It also helped that the defense dominated on Thursday in WSU's first practice in full pads.

"Markus Dawes, he's been a great leader," Walkosky said. "Two first-year players, Devin Giles and Chima Nwachukwu, they are having a great camp."

Giles and Nwachukwu played key roles in the suffocating performance by the defense Thursday.

"They have great skills," said Walkosky. "Hopefully, they'll keep getting better and buy into the program. They're focused and good students."

IN THE 2005 fall camp, the offense was ahead of the defense, opposite the norm, and was a harbinger of things to come, as the season was a rough one defensively for the Cougs. Bill Doba, back in charge of the D for the first time since he was promoted to head coach in 2003, wasn't surprised when his defensive players dominated.

"They usually do early when you put the pads on," Doba said. "We've got a lot of 'pressures' and blitzes we were working on. The offense will come back."

A ferocious pass rush left quarterbacks with little time on most plays, even from the shotgun. When the pigskin did fly, the secondary made some plays of their own. Giles knocked away a Gary Rogers bomb to Benny Ward, and free safety Husain Abdullah broke up a long pass from Alex Brink to Brandon Gibson.

Nwachukwu, defensive end Jesse Feagin and outside linebacker Cory Evans all had chances for interceptions, but failed to hold on to the ball.

KICKIN' BACK: Romeen Abdollmohammadi, who replaced Langley as WSU's place-kicker late last season, said he learned a great deal at two offseason clinics with noted kicking guru Rocky Willingham. The fifth-year senior went 3-for-3 last season, but his longest attempt was just 37 yards.

He's been good from beyond 50 yards in practice last year and this fall.

"It was really helpful," Abdollmohammadi said. "He changed my techniques. I played soccer all my life, and he said I still kicked like a soccer player."

Abdollmohammadi played only one season of football prior to last year, when he missed his lone field-goal attempt as a senior at Stanwood High in 2002.

Abdollmohammadi said Willingham's tips have helped him improve the distance on kicks, particularly on kickoffs. That could be crucial this year, since the NCAA has moved kickoffs back from the 35-yard line to the 30.

Doba said he fears the change will lead to more injuries during returns. He predicts an increase in squib and pop-up kicks by teams lacking someone who can consistently boot the ball into the end zone.

Walkosky said the punting, kicking and snapping jobs are all open at this point, but Darryl Blunt returns after punting last year, and Tony Thompson is presently No. 1 for all snapping jobs (punts, field goals, extra points).

Two walk-ons, redshirt freshman punter Reid Forrest and freshman kicker Wade Penner from Corvallis, have shown strong legs.

Peter Hill handled the short snaps on field goals and extra points last year, with Thompson doing the honors on punts. Hill gave up football due to chronic knee problems.

INJURY REPORT: Dawes (shoulder), kicker Loren Langley (groin) and reserve running back Logwone Mitz (possible concussion) are the latest additions to WSU's long injury list.

Reserve running back Marcus Richmond (groin) was back in action after resting Wednesday. Mike Bruce, a walk-on offensive lineman from Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, worked out for the first time.

Doba had decided Thursday's first full pad session would be "thud", meaning players don't wrap up and take their man to the ground. He said the Cougars may do some tackling for the first time Friday, one of just five days when two workouts will be held. The first scrimmage takes place Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

BRINK TABBED: The preseason Manning Award Watch List for college quarterback of the year was released Thursday, and Brink was one of 35 players named.

Brink was named second team All-Pac-10 as a junior, completing 241 of 396 passes for 2,899 yards, 19 TDs and 10 INTs. His QB efficiency rating was 133.14. The senior-to-be needs just 724 yards to move into No. 2 spot ahead of Jack Thompson on WSU's career passing list and with another 1,736 passing yards, he'll pass Jason Gesser for the top spot.

Other Pac-10 players named to the list: Arizona State's Rudy Carpenter, California's Nate Longshore, Oregon's Dennis Dixon and USC's John David Booty.

MAN IN BLACK COMIN' TO TOWN: The Cougars have completed their 2008 schedule by scheduling Portland State on Sept. 20. Former NFL coach Jerry Glanville is the new coach of the Vikings, an NCAA Division I-AA team.

The Cougars have yet to name their Seattle opponent for next season. However, athletic director Jim Sterk said a team is lined up for Aug. 30 -- ESPN will televise the Labor Day weekend contest -- and will be announced next week.

Utah was originally scheduled, but Sterk had previously announced a game with the Utes will be scheduled at a later date after both schools opted to not play in Seattle next year. Rumors coming out of cyberspace have focused on Oklahoma State in recent days.

Washington State plays 13 regular-season games in '08, since their trip to Hawaii doesn't count against the standard I-A limit of 12 (11 in prior years).

HOLD THE POTATOES: Sterk said the Cougars plan to schedule border rival Idaho "probably every three years" after this season. Both schools sought to halt annual meetings in a series that WSU has dominated. The teams have met every year since the series resumed in 1998 after an eight-year gap.

DOBA PEGGED: College football reporter Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com listed 19 coaches on the "hot seat." He pegged Doba at No. 2, behind only Tommy Bowden of Clemson.

Washington's Ty Willingham was 19th, right behind ex-Cougar assistant coach Joe Tiller of Purdue.

EDITOR'S NOTE: There's more to the story on yesterday's answer to the Cougar trivia question; Who are the only two WSU football players with retired numbers? Answer: Mel Hein (7) and Jack Thompson (14).

Cougfan.com has done a few stories on Mel Hein's number over the years. Based on research by CF.C Managing Editor John Witter's dad, George, it was conclusively proven that Hein wore No. 8 at WSU. John's dad is an outstanding artist, and did the research so he could put the correct number on a painting he was doing of Mel Hein during his WSU days.

WSU decided to retire Hein's number after his legendary, 15-year career with the NY Giants --- a career in which he played both ways and never missed one snap, and was one season named NFL MVP (as a center!!!!). The owner of the Giants told WSU he would send them a Hein jersey to commemorate the event. That jersey, of course, bore the number, 7, that Hein wore during his NFL career. Bottom line, WSU retired the jersey No. 7, although Hein wore No. 8 at WSU.

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