Intensity high, tempers flare at Coug workout

PULLMAN -- Paul Wulff wanted to see a little more energy from his players on the second day of fall camp, and the coach got what he wanted -- for better AND worse -- Wednesday afternoon. Meanwhile, Washington State players picked up the intensity a notch as tempers flared.

Linemen got after it during one running drill in particular -- even though players were wearing no gear besides helmets -- and center Kenny Alfred delivered a resounding head-butt to blitzing middle linebacker Greg Trent after the two briefly tangled angrily away from the play.

"It's good to get off a little aggression," said a smiling Alfred, who stressed that there were no hard feelings afterwards.

Trent, always an emotional player, sparked an enthusiastic mob scene of sorts at the start of practice with his loud, spirited screams of inspiration.

The afternoon practice was for the team's top returning talent, the entire morning session was for rookies and those lower on the depth chart.

"They came out with a purpose," Wulff said. "They were mentally awake … this game is about energy, also."

Senior quarterback Gary Rogers zipped passes all over the field with great accuracy, but he got some help on one pass in particular. NCAA 400-meter hurdles champion Jeshua Anderson leaped oh-so high into the Palouse sky to snare one ball in spectacular fashion despite the best efforts of redshirt freshman cornerback Tyrone Justin.

Rogers later threw a perfect strike when Michael Willis found a seam over the middle. WSU defensive backs often stayed glued to would-be receivers, with safeties Chima Nwachukwu and Myron Beck among those defending passes expertly on a steamy afternoon.

Sophomore Daniel Blackledge, who won the starting flanker job in spring ball, sat out with a hamstring injury and could be sidelined a week or two, according to Wulff.

Star receiver Brandon Gibson took turns with Justin fielding punts. Gibson looked sharp, but Justin had trouble holding on to the ball. The Cougars add shoulder pads and practice as one unit for the first time Thursday at 9 a.m.

ANDERSON, THE ONLY scholarship player who missed voluntary summer workouts, said he's a bit weary after a busy winter, spring and summer of track.

"Right now, it's a little tough trying to get back into things (football shape), but it's coming along quick," Anderson said.

After winning the world junior 400 hurdles championship in Poland last month, Anderson considered skipping the first three days of fall camp to stay home in California and rest.

"The coaches called me and wanted me to come on time to show my teammates respect … I'm glad I did. It helps me to get in early with this offense."

Anderson said he likes WSU's new up-tempo, no-huddle offense. However, after missing spring and summer workouts, Anderson said he finds it "a little bit mind-boggling" to learn the new offense.

Anderson is projected to start after averaging a whopping 31 yards on just 12 receptions in a reserve role as a true freshman last year.

Arkelon Hall, the touted prepster who never played a down at WSU before bombing out academically after two years, has been named the starting quarterback at Memphis. Hall made his college debut last year in the JC ranks. Former WSU starting running back DeMaundray Woolridge, who spent the summer in Pullman, is expected to be a key player at NAIA Langston (Okla.). He hasn't played since flunking out of WSU after his sophomore season of 2006.

If you ever question how hard college football players work for their scholarship money -- if, indeed, they're on scholarship -- consider that the Cougars held their first practice of the day at 9 a.m. the past two days and wrapped up the last player meetings at 9 o'clock each night.

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