Passing at center stage of Cougs' work outs

IN ONE OF their voluntary on-field summer workouts this week, Washington State focused on the Cougar passing game and Gary Rogers found "the zone." One more member of the incoming recruiting class has made it to Pullman early in advance of fall camp. And a number of fashion critics were out in force.

"We're going to do routes all day," starting quarterback Gary Rogers told his receivers at the beginning of the session on Tuesday.

For the next two hours, the Cougar offense did just that, going through various passing and route running drills plus some work on the passing portion of the playbook.

The defensive backs joined them at the end of the session as they worked 1-on-1 against the receivers.

The on-field portion of WSU's voluntary workouts this summer have usually seen the Cougs running team plays but, this week, by design, linemen on both sides of the ball were not present, and the on-field linebacker and running back participation was also scaled back. Rogers said the linemen were focusing on their filmwork this week and the goal was to also let guys rest up a bit.

Rogers looked sharp on his throws and was once again the last member of the team to leave the field, putting in extra time to work on his technique and footwork with Lobbestael. At one point, Rogers threw over 30 straight passes that were right on the money and with good velocity.

As a group, however, early on in the drills, there was a number uncharacteristic mistakes by the Cougar quarterbacks in the form of under and overthrown balls, some of which the receivers were simply unable to get to before they hit the turf.

After working some of the kinks out, the quarterbacks found a rhythm. Kevin Lopina and Marshall Lobbestael threw several nice passes during that stretch to Brandon Gibson and Benny Ward over coverage from the defensive backs.

IN THE DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD, safety Xavier Hicks, beaten on one pass play, redeemed himself by knocking away a JT Levenseller thrown ball that was headed to paydirt.

Safeties Myron Beck and Chima Nwachukwu each broke up passes during the 1-on-1 portion of the drills, and Beck stayed long after most of the defensive backs had departed to get extra work in.

Hicks and Nwachukwu are the starting safeties but Beck could play a key role early with Paul Wulff having suspended Hicks the first three games against Oklahoma St, Cal and Baylor after some well documented troubles this offseason. Beck, a junior college walk-on this past January, earlier put himself into the mix for this season with a solid spring.

RUNNING BACK Chantz Staden has made his way to Pullman, though he sat the session out while waiting for paperwork. Logwone Mitz and Marcus Richmond worked mostly on footwork drills before joining the quarterbacks and receivers to run plays from the playbook.

Mitz was in the backfield for almost all of the running back turns, with Richmond getting in time as well. On one play, Mitz ran a sharp flare route and broke into the open but was overthrown by one of the younger Cougar quarterbacks.

TIGHT END Devin Frischknecht sat the session out in street clothes but still got involved by filling in as a defensive end lining up opposite of the other tight ends on passing drills. Tony Thompson got the most work on Tuesday in the playbook portion of the workout.

Rogers has assumed the leadership role that comes with the starting quarterback job, and gathered everyone together and told them to be safe over the holiday break as Tuesday's workout came to a close.

THE LIGHT HEARTED moment of the workout session came via a fashion statement made by Cory Evans, the starting linebacker out of Louisiana. Evans arrived at practice dressed in some plaid, short pants -- and the ribbing began.

"Is today 'capri pants day'," Gibson wondered aloud.

"He's trying to bring that style from France," Lopina explained. "If I had that on and took a look in the mirror - I wouldn't go out."

"Louisiana guys wear (these). These people don't have style like we do. And Brandon, he still wears cowboy boots," Evans said later.

The last comment elicited a chuckle from Gibson.

Evans was one of the defensive players singled out by WSU head man Paul Wulff after the spring as having had a particularly good session in the eyes of the coaching staff.

"I don't think people are talking as much about Cory, but he worked hard and he got better," Wulff told CF.C.

Cougfan Top Stories