It's the Gibson & Anderson show

PULLMAN -- Brandon Gibson looked like he never missed a day and Jeshua Anderson looked like he'd been around for years. Wednesday was a showcase for the WSU wideouts. Gibson, partaking in most drills after missing two weeks, made a one-handed catch in the end zone. And Anderson turned in back-to-back highlight reel grabs, going high for a Gary Rogers pass and diving for an Alex Brink bullet.

Anderson, the national high school record-holder in the 300 meter hurdles, looks to be a Cougar anomaly: A true freshman who will get plenty of balls thrown his way.

In the 17 years Mike Levenseller has been coaching receivers at WSU, the demands of the position have been so great that even the uber-talented Jason Hill -- now a San Francisco 49er -- was mostly used on special teams, not catching a single ball as a true freshman.

For even greater perspective, consider the WSU media guide. Among the school's receiving marks, it lists the records for most catches in a season by a senior, a junior and a sophomore.

And the freshman record?

No names are listed. It simply says TBD (to be determined).

Asked Wednesday about Anderson, a 6-2, 190-pounder from Woodland Hills, Calif., Levenseller was succinct: "I plan on playing him."

Gibson, who returned to the field Tuesday but in limited action, ran with the No. 1 offense for most of Wednesday's workout. The few snaps he sat out, Benny Ward stepped in with the first unit.

THE COUGARS ENTER Saturday's nationally televised game at No. 7 Wisconsin with three new secondary starters -- none who have played a down of Division IA football. Plus there's a new cornerbacks coach in Dave Walkosky.

Asked if he was concerned about the lack of experience among the DBs, Walkosky said, "You always have concerns, but I have confidence in them. You always want to answer every question and let them see every situation."

"I'm not concerned about their ability," he added. "I always have concerns as a coach to make sure I've covered everything. They've responded to what we've asked them to do. They've prepared themselves."

Senior safety Husain Abdullah, a three-year starter, is the lone veteran among the starting four defensive backs. The other starting safety is JC transfer Alfonso Jackson and the two corners are true freshman Chima Nwachukwu and sophomore Devin Giles. Giles comes to WSU from junior college -- but didn't play football. That makes two starting corners who will play their first-ever college down in front of 80,000 people at Camp Randall Stadium.

There's more experience among the backups. Four seniors with varying amounts of playing time in their backgrounds are ready to go at cornerback in Ryan Kensok, who could figure first off the bench, Markus Dawes, Brian Williams and B.T. Walker. The backup safeties are sophomore Xavier Hicks and fifth-year senior Christian Bass.

True freshmen Deon Ford and Romeo Pellum could also see time in the secondary, depending on the health situation. Pellum has been out recently with an unknown injury.

"All our backups are on special teams," Walkosky said. "They're gonna get 20 snaps a game that way, and if they get a couple more on defense, that's 30 snaps a game. That's a heck of a lot of plays."

The use of the backups on defense will depend on both how the game goes and the weather, Walkosky said.

"You know, we have young guys in there and I expect them to do great and the backups will be ready to go," Walkosky said. "They [the backups] have been practicing hard too."


  • Freshman linebacker Marshal Pirtz made a nice play Wednesday when he intercepted a Gary Rogers pass that deflected off tight end Trevor Mooney's head.

  • The Cougars will be looking for their first season-opening win against a Top 10 team Saturday. WSU is 0-5-0 all-time when opening against Top 10 opponents, though they are 68-38-5 overall in season-opening contests. When opening on the road, the Cougars are 19-25-2. The Cougars' biggest-ever opening day win was at Nebraska in 1977. The Huskers, ranked 15th, were a 17-point favorite. Led by Jack Thompson and Mike Levenseller on offense and George Yarno on defense, the Cougs won 19-10.

  • Cougfan Top Stories