Jim Walden dishes on Steve Morton

TO FIND OUT more about Washington State's incoming offensive line coach, Steve Morton, who better to ask than Jim Walden. Morton served as a longtime assistant to Walden at both Washington State and Iowa State.

Walden said he was thrilled with the news that Paul Wulff was bringing Morton, who spent 14 years serving under Walden, back into the crimson fold.

"He's an extremely solid football coach who knows how to go into that room with those offensive linemen and get them where they need to be. They'll like this guy, they'll understand him and the plan. He'll have them ready to play, I promise you that. He's just really good," said Walden.

What makes him that good?

"He played the position, and then he's spent his whole life in offensive line meeting rooms... The great offensive line coaches all know how to rally their troops," said Walden. "In the years he worked with me, his offensive lines always knew what they were doing, they enjoyed coming to practice and he had a great way of making them know how important they are."

In the early part of Walden's tenure at Washington State, Pat Ruel (USC's touted line coach who is coming to the Seahawks with Pete Carroll) coached the Cougars' offensive line and Morton coached tight ends. When Ruel left for Texas A&M following the Cougs' '81 Holiday Bowl appearance, Morton moved to the o-line.

"I used to say I had two of the best offensive line coaches at the same time," said Walden. "And they kind of worked together, Mort with the tackles and tight ends. I got spoiled because there are good college (offensive line) coaches out there but I don't think there are any better than Mort and Ruel.

Morton spent nine seasons with Walden at WSU and another five at Iowa State.

"After Iowa State, Don James knew how good he was so he hired him from me at the University of Washington. That was a little bit of a strain for Mort because he's a Cougar and he knows I'm not the fondest guy of the Huskies, so we had a good time with that."

Morton spent seven seasons with the Huskies.

AS A RECRUITER MORTON'S, region of focus has yet to be announced. He spent the past five years at San Jose State and will be replacing Harold Etheridge who recruited in California.

"Believe me, he knows how to go out and recruit players. He was good with me -- he had Western Washington when I was at WSU. He brought in the Mike Utleys of the world. He and Gary Gagnon worked together from Olympia to Bellingham. John Husby was a great one -- Steve helped bring in a lot of those guys that Dennis Erickson found when he got to Pullman," said Walden.

AS FOR COACHING PHILOSOPHY, Walden said that's part of a bigger picture.

"The philosophy he'll go by is whatever Paul and Todd Sturdy need," said Walden. "Whatever system they want to run will be up to him to block for it, to have them prepared to block ... And he'll do that...He's put a lot of guys in three-point stances, including Paul Wulff himself in his first two years at WSU.

"When the ball is snapped, his guys will know where they're going. I've heard him say that over and over again -- you can be making calls but when the ball is snapped, block the right guy. And people don't realize how much that doesn't happen."

MORTON ALSO SOUNDS A little bit like former Cougar o-line coach George Yarno, who is now coaching in the NFL. Yarno used to talk about how knowledge is power and he wanted his linemen to be prepared for anything from that week's opponent.

"What he's always said to me is that you build strength through knowledge, and knowledge is passed down," said Walden of Morton. "You've got to teach those first guys exactly how it should be. And after a while, those guys help teach the guys coming in... I think he is a great addition to what they're trying to get done offensively. He has a real settling manner about him.

"And I think Paul Wulff will not have to worry about how the offensive line is doing. I think Paul felt he had to help Harold, and when you're trying to oversee the offensive line, that's a little too much... he needs to be in other places. He will not have to worry about that with Steve Morton."

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