Practice report: Wideout depth getting shaky

PULLMAN -- With receivers dropping like flies these days, this weekend's Cougar starters -- Daniel Blackledge, Jared Karstetter and Jeffrey Solomon -- might be half tempted to peak over their shoulders to see who, or what, may be coming down. The once-bountiful, though largely inexperienced, corps of Cougar wideouts will be without Gino Simone and Jeshua Anderson when SMU comes to town Saturday.

Simone is out with a concussion sustained in a dirty hit against Hawaii and Anderson, the two-time national champion in the 400 meter hurdles, quit the team Wednesday in order to focus solely on track. Both Simone and Anderson started last week.

Simone's injury and Anderson's decision to bail come on the heels of Kevin Norrell's year-long suspension following a run-in with the law. Norrell had been expected to start this season.

Anderson, in an exclusive interview with CF.C Wednesday evening, said he had been debating his departure for some time and that he had lost his passion for the game. "It wasn't anything negative against my teammates or coaches. I feel good about where our program is headed. It's headed in the right direction and our team is getting better," he said.

Those comments were echoed by head coach Paul Wulff who said after practice Wednesday that Anderson wasn't frustrated at all with the Cougars' slow start to the season. "I think he wants to dedicate himself to be a world-class athlete on a full-time basis and for him to exceed those things he's got to do it 12 months a year, not eight months a year."

Wulff said he's still comfortable with the Cougars' receiving corps.

"We are fortunate right now because we have some receivers that have been stepping up and playing well so our depth is OK and we will get Gino back soon so I think we will be just fine at the position," he said.

The Cougars' pre-SMU depth chart lists only two others at receiver besides Karstetter, Blackledge and Solomon – third-year walk on Nick Proen of Spokane and Canadian transfer Johnny Forzani. Neither has ever caught a collegiate pass. The remaining receivers on the roster are walk ons.

ON THE FIELD WEDNESDAY, new starting quarterback Marshall Lobbestael put a pair of ugly bookends around and otherwise solid practice. On his first pass attempt against live action, CB Daniel Simmons read the route perfectly and stepped in front of Blackledge for an interception. Then during the final 11-on-11 drill, Lobbestael, looking for Forzani, was picked off Eric Block who made a nice sliding catch.

Jeff Tuel had a handful of reps with the 1's and looked poised in the pocket, settling for running or checking down rather than forcing a ball.

On the offensive line, big Tyson Pencer earned some time with 1's at left tackle, and usual LT Steven Ayers moved to left guard in place of injured Zack Williams (ankle).

On defense, Block, fellow safety Jay Matthews and corner Terrance Hayward, saw increased time running with the 1's. Matthews' participation was short-lived, though, as he left practice with a shoulder wrapped in ice. The severity of his injury was not available at press time.

Corner Aire Justin (quadriceps) returned to practice and saw notable time with both the 1's and the 2's, switching in and out with Daniel Simmons. "Look at old fresh legs out here," said co-defensive coordinator Jody Sears. "Good to have you back!"


* Temperatures in Pullman on Wednesday hovered around 90 degrees, but it didn't seem to slow things down. "It was a good practice -- kids came out and worked hard it was a good warm day and they worked right through it," said Wulff.

* Redshirting Andrew Roxas, back at practice after suffering from viral hepatitis, worked with the second team left guard.

* Running back James Montgomery sat out of practice again on Wednesday and had his right knee wrapped with ice toward the middle stages. Simone was suited up but didn't practice.

* To end practice, kicker Nico Grasu lined up from 40-plus yards out and nailed 2-of-3 field goal attempts. After battling accuracy throughout fall camp, Grasu has gone 4-of-5, including 2-of-2 from over 40 yards, in game action. "He's gotten better and he's just kicking like he should and he's capable," said Wulff. " He's more relaxed and doing a good job."

Cougfan Top Stories