Brink zones in, Rogers struggles

PULLMAN –- It wasn't a red letter day for the Cougs on Tuesday, who looked a tad sluggish after two days off. But it definitely was a red-zone day. The team spent two hours in the afternoon sun, teeing things up first with special teams work before devoting time to the part of the game that hurt them badly late last season: the red zone.

Senior quarterback Alex Brink was sharp most of the afternoon and fired a pair of red-zone TD passes, to Benny Ward and Michael Bumpus. Cole Morgan and Jed Collins also teamed up on a red- zone scoring aerial.

In the first half of last season the Cougar passing game was nearly flawless inside the red zone. But when injuries mounted at tight end -- a position crucial to the team's offense inside the 20 -- that strength dissipated.

The Cougar O looks bent on turning things around this season.

The defense wasn't without its moments, however. Sophomore safety Xavier Hicks, putting one of the few blemishes on Brink's day, nabbed a pass near the end of practice and took it to the house.

In addition, safeties Husain Abdullah and Christian Bass each picked off passes from junior quarterback Gary Rogers, who had a rough showing all around. Besides the INTs, he had two passes batted down and was sacked twice (by Toby Turpin and B.J. Guerra).

Abdullah, newly back from a shoulder injury, wore a yellow no-contact jersey.

HEAD COACH BILL DOBA said he feels the team is somewhat behind where he'd like it to be, due to injuries, but he expects some critical talent, such as wide receiver Brandon Gibson and linebacker Andy Mattingly, back soon.

With classes starting this week, the Cougars had both Sunday and Monday off. "Anytime you break the routine and take a couple days off, it always takes a practice to get them going again," Doba said of the team's performance Tuesday.

He said the club will be split into the travel squad and the scout team on Thursday. WSU opens the season Sept. 1 at Wisconsin.


* Tight end Devin Frischknecht made his return from the injury list Tuesday and was welcomed back in a most inhospitable way by cornerback Ryan Kensok. The 5-9, 170-pound Kensok – who gives up four inches and 86 pounds to Frischknecht -- delivered the hit of the day, a bone-jarring affair that sent Frischknecht to the Martin Stadium turf.

* Kickers Romeen Abdollmohammadi and Wade Penner, a walk-on, impressed with kickoffs that sailed to the one-yard line. Abdollmohammadi drilled a 52-yard field goal in Saturday's scrimmage.

* With senior safety Christian Bass filling in on the first-unit defense in place of Alfonso Jackson (headaches), true freshman Deon Ford worked with the No. 2 defense.

* Defensive end Lance Broadus was in shoulder pads and shorts, and did not participate in contract drills, as he continues to rehab his surgically repaired shoulder.

* For the Cougars' Sept. 8 game in Seattle against San Diego State, Sound Transit will be running a special trains to the stadium, with pick ups in Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn, Kent, Tukwila, Everett and Edmonds. Click to for more details.

* Tickets to that Sept. 8 game are available at 1-800-GO-COUGS or online at Prices range from $7 to $50. About 20,000 tickets have been sold so far.

Injury Update:
AUG. 21: Out Indefinitely –Kevin Freitag (knee sprain), Markus Dawes (shoulder sprain), Anthony Houston (wrist surgery/left hamstring strain), Skylar Jessen (hamstring strain), Kevin Lopina (torn calf muscle), Jacob McKinney (muscle strain), Kameron Thurmond (hand fracture). No Practice – Steven Ayers (ankle sprain), Chris Baltzer (knee sprain), Ivan Batinich (quad strain), Daniel Blackledge (hamstring strain), Brandon Gibson (knee injury), Alex Hamill (foot sprain), Alfonso Jackson (concussion), Loren Langley (quad strain), Andy Mattingly (ankle sprain), Grady Maxwell (knee sprain), Reid McEllrath (hamstring strain), Terry Mixon (hamstring strain), Dan Rowlands (foot sprain), Jason Stripling (shoulder sprain), Greg Walker (knee sprain). Limited – Husain Abdullah (shoulder sprain), Cornorris Atkins (thigh bruise), Lance Broadus (shoulder surgery), Tony Thompson (knee sprain).

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