New role for flexible Byrd in his 36th start

PULLMAN -– Say this about Washington State offensive lineman Bobby Byrd: He's flexible. Give him lemons, he'll make lemonade. Give him snow, he'll flap out an angel. An earthquake? He's jumping on a skateboard. For the third time in the last calendar year, the 6-7, 308-pound senior is changing positions.

Jed Collins may be the Cougars' designated "slash" in light of his throwback career as a tight end/running back/linebacker/special teamer. But Bobby Byrd is Mr. Versatility when it comes to life in the trenches.

The leg injury right tackle Micah Hannam suffered last week at Oregon necessitated some shuffling in the Cougars' offensive line that now appears set following Thursday and Friday practices.

Byrd, who has 35 career starts on his WSU resume, will be making his 36th next week against UCLA at right tackle.

He has started every game this season at left guard all season. True freshman Andrew Roxas of Sun Valley, Calif., will take over for Byrd at LG. The rest of the line is unchanged, with Kenny Alfred at center, Dan Rowland at right guard and Vaughn Lesuma at left tackle.

Right tackle will be the third position Byrd has played in the last calendar year. He was the Cougars' starting left guard in 2004, starting left tackle in 2005 and 2006, and then back to left guard this season.

Byrd is known, on the field and in the locker room, as a team leader who is focused and even-keeled no matter the situation.

"When the bullets start flying," WSU offensive line coach once told the Daily Evergreen, Byrd is the guy who "keeps us going in the direction we need to be going in."

NOTABLE NOTES:
• The Cougars and Bruins kickoff at Martin Stadium next Saturday at 3:30 pm. And basketball coach Tony Bennett is taking advantage of the late start. The hoops team is inviting the public to watch an intrasquad scrimmage at Beasley that tips off at noon.

• WSU had won five of their last six games against UCLA. Last year's victory, 37-15, marked the Cougs' biggest point margin over the Bruins since 1936. Alex Brink passed for 405 yards in the game-- the seventh-best passing performance ever by a UCLA opponent.

• Besides Hannam, the Cougar sidelines at practice this week has included Brandon Gibson (ankle) and safety Alfonso Jackson (concussion).

* The Cougs hit the field in the indoor practice facility on Thursday and Friday as the weather on the Palouse turned dark.

* Reserve offensive lineman Nick Cantlon was dinged Thursday but played through the pain to finish practice. He sat out Friday's practice.

* There were two moments this week that really fired up the players. Thursday in 11 on 11 drills, running back Kevin McCall steam rolled over freshman cornerback Romeo Pellum, firing up the offense. Friday, in 3 on 3 OL vs. DL drills the boys were charged up again. The aim is for the OL to open holes big enough for a back to run through. Yarno played the part of referee and ruled the contest a 3-2 victory for the D.

Correspondent Kevin Dudley contributed to this report


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