PULLMAN -- Thursday's morning practice, the first of two scheduled on the day, couldn't have gone any better for the Cougar offense. And it truly could not have gotten much worse for the defensive unit. The Cougar first and second team O was firing on all cylinders, which led to primetime plays in the 11-on-11 scrimmage simulations.

Both the RB's and QB's shined brightly in the morning session, combining for four touchdowns.

The first big play of the practice came when Kevin Lopina, running with the 1's, connected on a 45-yard touchdown pass to Jared Karstetter over the outstretched hands of cornerback Brandon Jones.

The play before, there were fireworks of a different kind.

After Dwight Tardy was stopped at the line, offensive lineman Zack Williams and defensive tackle Dan Spitz got into a heated physical match. The two locked jerseys and Williams threw Spitz to the ground. Spitz quickly got to his feet and returned the favor by knocking Williams down. The two were sent immediately to the sidelines by Wulff after they were broken apart. They returned soon after.

Just two players later, running back Logwone Mitz made a great cut to hit a growing hole opened by the o-line. He then scampered for a 45 yard touchdown run against the first team defense.

MITZ PERFORMED extremely well in the morning's practice -- some good runs plus sharp footwork during drills. he wasn't the only one on offense who had a good day.

"They executed well and they seemed to be consistent in their performance which was good," said Paul Wulff. "There weren't any emotional ups and downs, they came out and executed well."

"Our line was out there blocking, and today was one of those days where we got on the defense," said Mitz. "They couldn't overcome adversity and we kept pounding on them. That's just what we have to do -- we have to keep executing our plays, play smart football and that's pretty much what we did and we came out on top."

THE OFFENSIVE OUTPOURING continued a few plays later with James Montgomery busting off a 20-yard touchdown run.

It appears evident that the running back starting position battle is still very much an open race. The top three candidates, seemingly, are Tardy, Montgomery and Mitz and each one has great and differing abilities to bring to the table.

"We've still got some very healthy competition there -- James Montgomery has clearly showed some obvious things that can help this football team. Of course, Dwight can as well. And Logwone has gotten better of his rookie year a year ago," said Wulff.

AT QUARTERBACK, Marshall Lobbestael matched Lopina by connecting on a 20 yard touchdown pass to Karstetter -- a beautiful lob pass just over safety Chima Nwachukwu.

It was Karstetter's second touchdown reception of the morning session, and the Spokane native showed great chemistry with both Lopina and Lobbestael.

"You know, Jared is one of those guys who has a relentless work ethic," said Wulff. "He's extremely tough, he's obviously got some God-given ability as well but when you put those kind of things together, it makes for someone who is only going to get better and better all the time and that's what he's done."

WITH BOTH Lopina and Lobbestael performing well in today's practice and both sharing time running the 1's, the question still remains who will be at center come Sept. 5.

Wulff, however, isn't ready to make the call yet, saying that both are making strides and that there's still time to look at each more closely before making a decision.

"I think that they're getting better," said Wulff. "We're happy about that. It's still a work in progress and we've just got to keep pushing it forward, we've still got a lot of camp left to sort that out."

ONE OF THE few bright spots for the defense was when Lobbestael was picked off by CB Aire Justin.

Justin won a mid-air battle with wide receiver Collin Huemmer. However, it was arguably the only big play the defense was able to make all morning.

Indeed, the defensive staff had their guys running wind sprints after practice had ended, a pretty good indicator on the coaches' assessment of their play.

  • Punter Reid Forrest booted a mind boggling 73 yarder during practice, and also added a beautifully executed 50 yard punt that went out of bounds at the 6-yard line.

  • While getting reps with the second team, freshman running back Carl Winston showed some great agility -- he was able to find the open hole on multiple occasions.

  • After not participating the past few days, running back Chantz Staden returned to work in the running back drills headed by RB's coach Steve Broussard.

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