DAY 9: After day off, no drop off for Cougs

PULLMAN—An upbeat practice pushed the temperature gauge, already well into the 70s at 8:30 a.m., even hotter. A Cougar RB found the end zone from 40 yards out, Jeff Tuel led the offense on a nine play scoring drive against the first team defense and there was that guy again, DT Brandon Rankin, adding to his already large fall camp reputation. There's also news on one of the starting wideouts.

"We were able to get some work done. The defense played very well today and the offense was able to create some holes so we could run the ball well. The offense wasn't as emotional today but they were able to make plays. We are just getting ready to hit the grind that is two-a-days, and it is time for us to take some big steps forward," Paul Wulff told CF.C after practice.

First though, news that wide receiver Jared Karstetter continues to recover from offseason hernia surgery. The starting wideout looked prepared to engage in a full practice today but his day was cut short by the trainers and he finished practice on the exercise bike. He was joined by fellow receivers Kristoff Williams (right toe) and Gino Simone (hamstring).

The offense began to heat things up during third down situational drills. D-end Travis Long got one of his mitts on the ball at the outset but over the next series of plays, Jeff Tuel found running back Chantz Staden, and then receivers Isiah Barton and Daniel Blackledge for three consecutive first downs.

"I was trying to do a better job today of getting us into better plays, checking into quick throws that helped our receivers to step up and make plays for us," Tuel told CF.C

Marshall Lobbestael followed with the second offense and the No. 2 D, finding running back Logwone Mitz and then freshman receiver Bobby Ratliff for consecutive first downs as well.

IN THE TEAM running sessions the defense held the upper hand. The first unit consisted of d-ends Kevin Kooyman and Travis Long with Brandon Rankin and Anthony Laurenzi filling in for Bernard Wolfgramm, who is being treated cautiously by the staff but should return soon.

The defensive line offered very little room to run, in turn leading to linebackers Alex Homman-Ellis, Mike Ledgerwood, and Myron Beck to roam free without an o-lineman in their kitchen.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF the drill happened when Brandon Rankin met Mitz in the backfield. And it should have been a loss. But it was better than that for the defense.

Hoffman-Ellis obviously stripped the ball and Laurenzi recovered.

When the No. 1 offense returned, Tuel lined up behind LT David Gonzales, LG Wade Jacobson, C Zack Williams, RG B.J. Guerra and RT Micah Hannam.

Going against the first string defense, the offense lost the first battle forcing a three and out. Lobbestael set up the second unit – with Alex Reitnouer and John Fullington at tackle, Andrew Roxas and Sebastian Valenzuela at guard, and Chris Prummer snapping the ball. Carl Winston ripped off a 10-yard gain. The defense won the next play thanks to great downfield coverage by LeAndre Daniels, Casey Locker, Anthony Carpenter and Terrance Hayward.

The next snap, however, was a blowout win for the offense.

"You could have driven a truck through that hole," Tuel said about Winton taking the pigskin 40 yards to the end zone. It was also contagious.

Tuel lined the 1s up against the first team defense and proceeded to lead unit on a nine play drive, culminating in running back James Montgomery fighting through three tacklers to earn his way into the end zone on first and goal.

Tuel connected with Jeffrey Solomon, Daniel Blackledge and Isiah Barton on the drive, and also used his legs to scramble to the first down marker to set up the first and goal.

THE DEFENSE STEPPED up in the next series thanks in large part to the play of Myron Beck.

"I am always just trying to get better. Every day I step on the field I just focus on what I can do to improve. I only think about one thing this year is doing my part to earn a bowl ring. That is all we all are thinking about," Beck told CF.C.

The practice ended with both sides of the ball running through sprint drills. Then they met in the center of the field for a brief discussion on the importance of tempo and passion.

  • Offensive tackleTyson Pencer remains sidelined as he recovers from a stomach ailment but word is he should return sometime this week.

  • Wolfgramm was in full gear but did not participate in drills and spent the majority of practice working on strength and conditioning. Safety Jamal Atafou and cornerback Daniel Simmons were also working out with Wolfgramm.

  • Tight end Skyler Stormo came off the field and was icing his right knee after the team running drills.

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