Brink sharp; line success includes true frosh

ON IT'S EAR. That's where Washington State has turned the conventional wisdom regarding offensive line youth development. While most of the focus deservedly is on the early season success of two new starters, don't discount the emergence of the true freshmen. Meanwhile, Alex Brink after a record setting performance Saturday, picked up where he left off in Tuesday's practice session.

After setting the WSU completion record with 38 on Saturday against SDSU -- and continuing his climb toward the top of the books in numerous other categories -- Alex Brink was sharp as nails on Tuesday.

Brink and tight end Jed Collins perfected their timing as the duo hooked up on some laser-like passes.

Freshman WR Jeshua Anderson also flashed his star quality, pulling in numerous highlight reel catches. Anderson hauled in his first touchdown pass as a collegian Saturday when he torched the secondary and hauled in a 39-yard scoring aerial.

THE COUGAR OFFENSIVE LINE, a mystery coming into the season to some, labeled a deficit by most others, looked like a well oiled machine against Wisconsin and again last week. Starting tackles Vaughn Lesuma and Micah Hannam have looked like experienced hands rather than hosses who took their first college snaps a week and half ago.

Inside, George Yarno calls RG Bobby Byrd his anchor, C Kenny Alfred a future All-American and LG Dan Rowlands tough as they come. The line has surrendered but one sack in two games while starting RB Dwight Tardy is snapping off hashes at nearly a 100 yard clip behind the crimson hosses.

The unit has, obviously, pleased Yarno -- no small task from an o-line coach who demands, loudly, perfection on every detail.

"I'm really pleased with the effort that we're putting into it," Yarno said. "We're playing extremely hard and smart, and those are the two ingredients that really make you better."

TRUE FRESHMAN Andrew Roxas (pronounced ROW-hoss) got his first college experience against the Aztecs. During Tuesday's practice, it was instead true freshman Steven Ayers seeing some time with the No. 1 offensive line while trainers treated Hannam's ankle.

"They're both ready to play," Yarno said of Roxas and Ayers. "Roxas is probably our sixth guy, first guy off the bench if somebody gets hurt, other than the center.

"I just try and put the best five players on the field at any one time and Andrew has really kind of separated himself."

And consider that another true freshman, Kevin Freitag, was named by Yarno earlier as the most physically ready to play of the incoming hosses before he injured his MCL in a summer high school all-star game.

All this flies in the face of the conventional wisdom on offensive linemen -- being ready to play in the Pac-10 as a true or redshirt freshmen, or an incoming junior college transfer, just isn't often seen.

By the way, Hannam practiced nearly the entire day Tuesday with the No. 1 offense. He is expected to start Saturday against Idaho.

The news isn't as promising on another redshirt frosh. Grady Maxwell was another expected to be in the mix up front when the season started. Maxwell has been out since mid-August with a knee sprain that has been slow to improve.

Yarno says Maxwell will get his knee scoped in the next week or so and the outlook for the '07 campaign isn't promising.

"I would say he's very doubtful for this season," Yarno said.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Safety Husain Abdullah remained out of practice after suffering what looks to have been a mild concussion on Saturday -- the senior has not had the headaches that often accompany a concussion. In his place on the practice field was sophomore Xavier Hicks.

  • Brink's lone miscue on the afternoon occurred when Brady Emmons intercepted a tipped pass during scrimmage drills.

  • Running back Christopher Ivory also watched from the sidelines on Tuesday. Ivory suffers from a shoulder injury. Both Ivory and Abdullah are listed as "no practice" on the WSU Medical Report rather than "out indefinitely", sometimes indicating a questionable/probable status for that week's game. More could be known after the Wednesday and Thursday sessions.

  • Against SDSU, Hannam missed a couple of snaps with the lightly sprained ankle but returned. As Bill Doba likes to say, there's a difference between playing injured and playing hurt. The former isn't desirable, but just about anyone with knowledge of the game of football will tell you the latter, particularly for an offensive lineman, is something all the good ones do at times.

    WSU MEDICAL REPORT:
    SEPT. 11: Out Indefinitely –Alex Hamill (foot sprain), Skylar Jessen (hamstring strain), Kevin Lopina (torn calf muscle), Grady Maxwell (knee sprain), Keith Rosenberg (knee sprain). No Practice – Husain Abdullah (concussion), Kevin Freitag (knee sprain), Chris Ivory (shoulder injury). Limited – Lance Broadus (shoulder surgery), Charles Dillon (thigh bruise), Kendrick Dunn (shoulder bruise), Micah Hannam (ankle sprain), Anthony Houston (wrist surgery/hamstring strain). Matt Mullennix (knee sprain), Tali Talakai (knee sprain).

    CF.C Senior Editor Barry Bolton contributed to this report

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