SCRIMMAGE 1: Brink-to-Gibson 3 TD; tired legs

PULLMAN -- The Washington State Cougars held their first full scrimmage Saturday under a brilliant sun that exposed equal measures of good and bad; progress and work remaining. Alex Brink and Brandon Gibson hooked up for three touchdown passes, and Matt Mullennix recorded three quarterback sacks despite some more signs of progress by the shaky offensive line.

Bill Doba and Alex Brink each said they were encouraged by some developments, particularly the way the offense moved the ball after a slow start.

However, coach and quarterback both agreed that the first workout in hotter weather (perhaps 90 degrees on the field) combined with practicing twice Friday (including a night session) took a toll on the team Saturday afternoon.

"There were some good things and some not-so-good things," Doba said after the 70-plus minute scrimmage. "But the intensity wasn't what it needs to be."

The offensive line was burned for six "sacks" -- quarterbacks are off-limits in all-out tackling practices -- but Doba and Brink said they were encouraged by the line's effort.

"They did a great job protecting, even early on when I was missing throws," Brink said.

"They played better … I thought the offensive line had decent protection," Doba added.

The line did have too many breakdowns, however, as did the secondary. Those are two major areas of concern for the Cougars, and there were also problems on special teams, a nightmare for WSU in recent years, including in 2006.

"We had a great practice yesterday (morning) and last night," Doba said. "A lot of enthusiasm, guys flying around. Today, we didn't have it. They looked sluggish."

"Guys had tired legs," Brink said.

Nothing surprising there, considering the Cougars have practiced eight times in the first seven days of camp. Nevertheless, they'll go at it again Sunday morning and evening, then get their first day off Monday.

THE NO. 1 OFFENSE split time against the No. 1 and 2 defenses on Saturday. Doba had said the first scrimmage of fall camp would see a lot of the crimson youth.

The No. 2 offense faced the top two defenses, and the No. 3's squared off against one another.

"We've got to get our 2s and 3s (top non-starters) in there and try to get an idea who can help us," Doba said late Friday night.

BRINK, ON TARGET to break most of WSU's career passing records, completed 14 of 22 passes for 127 yards including the three TD passes to Brandon Gibson. He was victimized by several drops, including a potential fourth TD toss on a swing pass to running back Chris Ivory, and also an interception on a catchable ball that glanced off the hands of tight end Ben Woodard.

Strong safety Christian Bass ran the interception back 53 yards to the 2 before Brink pushed him out of bounds.

Ivory, starting in place of the injured Dwight Tardy, was made to run hard by the defense for 28 yards on eight carries. Woodard, who has made a number of highlight-reel catches this fall, added another to his collection on an 8-yard throw from Brink that was good for a first down.

GIBSON, WHO LED Washington State with 731 receiving yards as a sophomore last season, caught four balls for 37 yards. His TD catches went for 16, 6 and 9 yards.

Senior wideout Michael Bumpus, the team leader with 60 catches last season, had four receptions for 40 yards. A few of those yards came after he caught a Brink swing pass in the left flat and tried out a few dance moves that left cornerback B.T. Walker and outside linebacker Alex Hamill grabbing at nothing but air.

"Some of our receivers dropped the ball, which they don't normally do," Doba said.

TRUE FRESHMEN Jeshua Anderson and Chima Nwachukwu, two of the brightest spots in the first week of practice, experienced some ups and downs during the scrimmage.

Anderson, playing with the 2's and 3's, caught a 23-yard TD pass from Marshall Lobbestael but failed to make a couple difficult grabs.

Nwachukwu, playing with the 1's and 2's, got beat badly on Gibson's 6-yard TD catch but had good coverage on several other occasions, including the 9-yard Gibson TD grab that was only made possible on by a perfect throw from Brink.

"Our secondary had a couple breakdowns and got beat deep," Doba said.

NO. 2 QUARTERBACK Gary Rogers completed 4-of-9 passes for 22 yards and one touchdown. Cole Morgan went 1-for-4 for 5 yards, and Lobbestael was 2 for 3 for 33 yards and the one TD.

Running back Logwone Mitz, recovered from a slight concussion suffered Thursday, gained 21 yards on six carries.

THE COUGARS have put added emphasis on special teams this year. However, the first two punts were fumbled by Charles Dillon and Romeo Pellum, and No. 1 kicker Romeen Abdollmohammadi missed an extra point.

"We need to get better everywhere, there's no question about that," Brink said.

"We're a long way from being where we need to be," Doba said. "But we've got some time to get there, too."

A modest crowd of perhaps 400 spectators turned out, including Cougar greats like Jack Thompson, Mike Utley, Dan and Pat Lynch, Allan Kennedy, Bill Moos and Bobo Brayton (the longtime Cougar baseball coach).

STATISTICS:
Rushing - Ivory 8/29, Mitz 6/21, Lobbestael 1/9, McCall 6/6, Campbell 2/3
Passing - Brink 14/22/1/127/3/16, Rogers 4/9/0/22/1/10, Morgan 1/4/0/5/0/5, Lobbestael 2/3/0/33/1/23 *(comp/att/int/yds/TDs/long)
Receiving - Gibson 4/37 (3 TDs), Bumpus 4/40, Collins 3/26, Rosenberg 3/20, Anderson 2/33 (TD), Woodard 2/18, Dillon 1/6, Atkins 1/5, Mooney 1/2 (TD)
Scoring - Gibson 16 pass from Brink; Gibson 6 pass from Brink; Anderson 23 pass from Lobbestael; Gibson 9 pass from Brink; Mooney 2 pass from Rogers
Interceptions - Bass
Sacks - Mullennix 3, Kooyman, Mattingly, Buslach
Punts - Blunt: 55, 54, 40, 34 Avg. 45.6; Forrest 45, 59 Avg. 52.0.


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