FALL CAMP: Morning study

PULLMAN -- Following Thursday's morning practice on the heels of WSU's second scrimmage, Bill Doba talked d-line and about the benefits of fielding a 6-foot-8 defensive end. Clouds and cooler weather returned to Pullman as the Cougars went through a short, helmets-only session mostly about teaching and fundamentals in anticipation of the evening's full-pad practice. Plus, backup snappers and more.

One day after 97 degree temperatures roasted the Martin Stadium turf during the second scrimmage of fall camp, the Cougs went through a light, abbreviated workout -- the offense working on technique, the defense focusing on different coverages, blitzes and assignments.

Doba spent much of the defensive session not as much on the how-to, but on the why, saying afterwards he wanted the players to understand why the differing coverage and blitzing assignments are employed and the reasons behind them.

THE START of the morning practice saw the team working on special teams, something that plagued the Cougars during the 2006 season. Senior Romeen Abdollmohammadi and walk-on Wade Penner spent time working on short, chip-shot kicks in order to let the return squad work on their assignments.

Senior Ropati Pitoitua was lined up once again at defensive end for a few drills, and Doba says that this is no longer a short-term experiment, if it ever was one.

"We want to put in the best run defenders in a running situation," Doba said. "If we need a pass rush, we'll probably still leave him in there."

Doba pointed out that Pitoitua is one of the best run defenders on the team, so moving him around the line will work out well. The defensive lineup will also depend on who the Cougars are playing, and what situations they find themselves in, according to Doba.

On the other side of the practice field, the offense worked alone, mostly on goal line offense.

THE SECONDARY STARTERS remain to be named with 14 practice sessions scheduled before the Cougs travel to Wisconsin for the opener on Sep. 1. And Doba says work still needs to be done.

"They've improved, but they still have a long way to go," Doba said.

Devin Giles and Chima Nwachukwu were the No. 1 corners during yesterday's scrimmage, with Alfonso Jackson and Husain Abdullah manning the safety spots during Wednesday's afternoon session in Martin Stadium.

Doba also noted heralded safety Terry Mixon remains out indefinitely, his return from a hamstring injury yet to be determined.

The team hits the field again at 7:30 pm for a scheduled full pad practice.

- With tight end and long snapper Tony Thompson out with an injury, freshman Zach Enyeart and senior Jed Collins took turns working on long snaps with the punt team.

- Chris Ivory (sore ribs) did not participate in the morning session.

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