Bland rejoins 1st unit; Karstetter acrobatic

PULLMAN -- Louis Bland, the outside linebacker who made an impressive mark for the Cougs the last half of last season, is officially back in the saddle. The knee injury that shelved the sophomore-to-be at the start of fall camp looked to be a thing of the past in his all-world practice on Sunday. And Tuesday afternoon, in the Cougs' second practice of the day, he was working with the first-unit D.

Head coach Paul Wulff had said in recent days that Bland was working his way back into shape and that his return to the 1's probably would come sooner rather than later. The wait was brief, and, provided his upward path continues, it would eliminate what had been a prime injury concern for WSU coming into camp.

The Cougars have Bland and senior Andy Mattingly WIL and SAM spots, respectively, and Alex Hoffman in the middle as the presumptive linebacking starters. It should be noted the coaches have made no official announcement on the starting 'backers, nor at most of the other positions to this point.

With Bland slowed at the start of camp, it allowed the Cougs to give extra reps to the younger linebackers, said LB coach Travis Niekamp.

"I think all three (freshmen) linebackers that we brought in -- Darren Markle, Andre Barrington and Sekope Kaufusi -- are very talented players and they are probably better then what we thought they were coming out of high school," Niekamp said. "I think I'm more excited about them now then I was on signing day -- they're having a good fall camp and they got a good future in front of them." No word yet on whether any of three may see playing time this season.

Another injury concern for the Cougar D coming into camp was the status of junior tackle Bernard Wolfgramm (back). He's been consistently working with the 1's on the defensive line and looks strong. The other 1's on the DL right now are tackle Toby Turpin and ends Jesse Feagin, and Kevin Kooyman.

On the other side of the line, the 1's have been Kenny Alfred at center, Micah Hannam and Steven Ayers at tackle, and Zack Williams and B.J. Guerra at guard.

WHILE TUESDAY MORNING'S practice was dominated by 11-on-11 drills, the afternoon session was heavy on positional work. Still, there were a few fireworks when the O and D mixed it up. A 1-on-1 receiver vs. cornerback drill had quarterbacks Kevin Lopina, Marshall Lobbestael, and Jeff Tuel filling the air with swine. The highlight was sophomore wideout Jared Karstetter's acrobatic, one-handed 40-yard reception from Lopina that produced a wave of cheers from onlooking teammates.

THE COUGS' BATTLE AT running back among Dwight Tardy, James Montgomery and Logwone Mitz has consumed its share of attention from the crimson faithful, but RB coach Steve Broussard says there's another story slowly unfolding in the backfield: the development of freshmen Arthur Burns and Carl Winston. "They're doing a pretty good -- you know they're freshmen and they're still trying to grasp the plays and concepts," said Broussard. "It's a slow process but they are catching on."

NOTABLE: The Cougars' Sept. 5 season opener against Stanford has been picked for TV by FSN. That means kickoff time is being moved from 5 pm to 3 pm, WSU announced.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Braulio Perez, brand new to CF.C, is a junior at Washington State. He is studying broadcast news at the Murrow College of Communication. He is a graduate of Inglemoor High in Kenmore, Wash.

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