Mike Graise's Diary: Week Four

PULLMAN -- What's going on Cougs, Graise here. Sorry for the delay in getting a diary done, it's been a busy couple of weeks. We're back from the holiday and ready to go. But before we were able to enjoy a couple days off prior to the 4th of July, we had a potential issue on our hands -- maintaining focus during our workouts.

A tendency can be to start thinking ahead to a few days off and to lose focus on the task at hand. My teammates and I had a chance to either go home and be with family for the 4th or to just relax in Pullman, go to a buddy's house and rest up before getting back to our workouts. But one thing showed me we have strong focus this year.

When lifting weights, your body is not the only thing that needs to be there, your mind must be there as well if you're going to get the most out of it.

If my teammates had been looking ahead to the weekend, they would not have been able to push as hard as they did. Because last week, I looked to my left and witnessed Cory Evans, rep after rep, squatting a very large amount of weight. Right behind him was Tony Thompson, and to my right was Alfonso Jackson, and they were each putting a bunch of weight on the bar.

Not to be outdone, our quarterbacks Gary Rogers and Kevin Lopina were pushing it hard, too.

With all of these players and their lifts, just before we were going on break, they were all banging out steady reps -- there were no shortcuts there.

Like coach O (Rob Oviatt) says, "If you put the weight on, you better lift it by yourself."

I believe we're going to be more ready than ever before for camp, and I also believe this is going to be an amazing year. Remember to Love The Process.

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July and was safe this past weekend. For those of you who do not know or weren't there, the annual fourth of July fireworks show at Sunnyside Park was amazing!

The amount of intelligence and creativity it takes to have the fireworks go off in color sequence, to make them look so impressive, is too cool for words. In a sense, we're trying to do some of the same things on the defensive line.

This past week before the holiday, the d-line spent some time writing down all our plays and formations, testing each other on what each person is supposed to do.

We also spent quite a bit of time on film study, going over our performances from spring ball and looking over and over at everything we did right and everything that needs improvement. Critiquing ourselves is an important part of the process.

I saw where someone had a question about which offensive linemen look to have made the most improvement.

That's hard to say because we aren't in pads and as a defensive end, I go up against some guys much more than others -- I don't go up against center Kenny Alfred very often, for example. I'd mention Vaughn Lesuma as one who is still making improvements and he's getting better. Dan Rowlands is also looking like he's going to be a handful.

Guys who have impressed me this offseason include Gary Rogers. He is doing an excellent job and I look for him to have a great year. And everyone is looking for B-Gib (Brandon Gibson).

But one person I saw emerge in spring ball was Michael Willis. There's a few guys on offense who I think are going to do some damage this year -- I know we've got Jeshua (Jeshua Anderson) coming back, Daniel Blackledge is going to contribute a lot.

As far as defense, Greg Trent is solid. Andy Mattingly, he's getting better every day at a new position, and (Ahmu) he's definitely working hard.

Another question had to do with the young guys who just joined the team this summer, who is standing out. That's also hard to pick just one of those guys there but a guy who has caught my eye is a wide receiver, Jared Karstetter.

Being a d-end, I can't say how well he's doing picking up the plays but I can say that he runs very hard --- I've noticed that about him.

I stood back a little more last summer as a junior. This year, I'm more involved in getting everybody where they need to be. From an individual standpoint, I think my run defense, since coach (Malik) Roberson has been here, has gotten better and I'm really focusing on getting better in my pass rushing.

Like I said, Remember to Love The Process.

Keep the questions and comments coming on the CF.C message boards and I'll answer as many as I can.

Mike Graise received his first two career starts last season. The 6-3, 222-pounder will be a fifth-year-senior in 2008. He hails from the Los Angeles area, where he earned both first-team all-conference and All-Area honors at Inglewood High. He's played in 27 games over the past three seasons at WSU as a defensive end and special teamer, recording 35 tackles, 7 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He realized every lineman's dream when he returned an interception 33 yards for a TD in '06. Along with Gary Rogers, he graciously volunteered this summer to give CF.C readers an inside look at the world of pre-season Cougar football preparations with a weekly diary.

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