Wulff lauds Cougar players post practice

PULLMAN–Paul Wulff had high praise for his Cougars after the second practice session of the week yesterday. "Maybe (it was) because there was no school, we didn't have 7 a.m. meetings, they had 10 a.m. meetings -- but our guys are getting better, and they're working at it and I couldn't ask for more than what they're giving right now. They're giving a great effort and working hard," said Wulff.

Coaches barking, collisions and big plays, all were on display in the Cougs' full contact session. And it was decidedly full contact.

The bit hits began early. During a kickoff return drill, DE Jessy Sanchez ran full sprint down field, lowered his shoulder and sent linebacker Josh Garrett to the turf and kept on going, nearly decleating RB Carl Winston during the same sequence.

Safety Xavier Hicks joined in when he leveled WR Easton Johnson that broke up a would be completion. Just moments later Hicks added another nice play when he picked off a David Gilbertson pass in the end-zone.

"I want those plays to be momentum builders for the defense," Hicks said. "It should boost everybody's confidence and not just one person. Whenever big plays happen during practice or a game I think it get's everybody riled up and gets us ready to do for the next play."

FOR THE SECOND consecutive day, Jay Matthews (shoulder) continued to work alongside Hicks at safety. Chima Nwachukwu (ankle) was not going full contact and did limited work. After practice, Wulff said the status of Nwachukwu and TE/SB Tony Thompson (concussion) for Saturday has not changed, and both remain questionable.

On the defensive line, DT Anthony Laurenzi saw an increased amount of reps with the 1's because Bernard Wolfgramm is taking it easy this week. Wulff said Wolfgramm is resting up his back this week prior to Saturday's tilt with UCLA.

The offensive line had its moments during Wednesday's practice, including effectiveness in the run game. Dwight Tardy had a nice 20 yard run that was highlighted by a key block by LT Steven Ayers on DE Casey Hamlett. Just a few plays later, RB Logwone Mitz broke through and could have ran all the way to Colfax had the play not been whistled dead.

THE COUGS WORKED on their two minute drill with the 1's on offense and defense meeting up for battle. Marshall Lobbestael went 3-for-5 but the final drill belonged to the D, who allowed only one first down put pressure on Lobbestael with consistency. DE Dan Spitz and LB Jason Stripling both brought pressure.

"I tell you what, we've been having good practices these past few weeks," co-defensive Coordinator Jody Sears said. "Kids have been putting some good energy, the morale is good, we just have to carry our execution over to Saturday. That's kind of been our nemesis."

After losing the battle to the offense on Tuesday, the defense stepped up its game and kept the offense in check during the final 11-on-11 drill.

  • Jeff Tuel has not practiced this week and Wulff said he remains a game time decision. Lobbestael has taken virtually all the snaps with the 1's the last two days.

  • One very big highlight of practice-- injured DE Cory Mackay showed up. Mackay, who remains paralyzed below the waist after a car accident last spring, was all smiles on the sidelines as he conversed with former teammates.

  • With K Nico Grasu sidelined with a quadriceps injury, Patrick Rooney went 3-of-5 from about 40 yards out to close practice.

  • Freshmen Anthony Carpenter and Nolan Washington are continuing to make strides with the defense this season and Wednesday's practice continued to offer evidence. With the 1's running against their scout team defense, both freshman had multiple pass deflections and had tight coverage on WR's Jared Karstetter and Jeffrey Solomon.

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