DAY 12: Special teams rising, says Walkosky

PULLMAN -- A warm Friday afternoon saw the Cougar offense continuing to shine almost as bright as the sun. Special teams were the specialty, and new coach David Walkosky is wasting no time getting his troops ready for the season opener on Sept. 1 at Wisconsin. The WSU special teams struggled in 2006, to say the least, and Walkosky said he's already seeing improvements.

"They're definitely coming together," Walkosky said of the special teams players. "There's no doubt we're getting better everyday."

Walkosky, constantly heard screaming, "Be perfect!" at his players, said the goal is to have the top special teams in the Pac-10 Conference.

"The players are buying into what we're coaching, and that gives us a chance," Walkosky said.

Walkosky went on to say there remains definite progress yet to be made on returns and coverage, the latter signified by the Cougars wearing the green sleeves on their helmets. He added that the coaches will use players with speed and regardless of whether they play primarily on offense or defense.

THE TEAM SUITED up in full pads again on Friday, and the 11-on-11 drills proved why Michael Bumpus is poised to again become the team's leading pass catcher.

It didn't matter who was throwing the pigskin, Bumpus was there to catch it. He grabbed the balls thrown across the middle as well as along the sidelines, disregarding any cornerback that came his way.

Freshman Jeshua Anderson wowed onlookers with a nice juggling catch with senior Brian Williams plastered all over him.

At the end of practice, head man Bill Doba simulated an overtime situation, with the No. 1 offense up against the No. 2 defense. Alex Brink and co. drove down to the three-yard line in three plays, only to be pushed back due to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against tight end Jed Collins.

Dwight Tardy, however, rendered the penalty moot with runs of seven and nine yards, the latter being the 'winning' touchdown.

THE DEFENSIVE FRONT FOUR shined at times, backup d-tackle Toby Turpin one who recorded a 'sack' of freshman QB Marshall Lobbestael.

Senior defensive end Mike Graise also turned in a nice effort, stepping in to pick off a pass from Cole Morgan at the far end of the field. Had there been a real end zone on that end of the practice field, Graise's interception would have been a near replication of his interception return for touchdown against Stanford last season.

Freshman cornerback Romeo Pellum picked up a Logwone Mitz fumble, and Brian Williams did the same when tight end Trevor Mooney lost grip of the ball.

- Senior free safety and co-captain Husain Abdullah sat out his second practice in a row with an apparent shoulder injury. With Abdullah out, senior Christian Bass stepped in with the No. 1 defense.

- The team will return to the field at 9:30 am on Saturday for a brief practice, before heading to the Martin Stadium turf at 7:30 pm for the third scrimmage of the fall.

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