DAY 12: D rises, Washington among standouts

PULLMAN -- Friday's afternoon session belonged to the defense. CB Nolan Washington continued to make his case to be a starter, the intensity level was high, but two big bodies went at it a bit too much for Paul Wulff's liking. Also, one of the Cougs' top rated freshman recruits will redshirt this season due to an injury sustained in practice this week. And a scrimmage is on tap Saturday morning..

Spokane native and freshman tight end Aaron Dunn might have been ticketed to redshirt this season regardless. But he'll definitely do so now. The ninth ranked tight-end prospect in the nation coming out of Mead High will not see the football field in 2010 after breaking a bone in his wrist on Wednesday.

Paul Wulff said that the injury was a freak thing when Dunn was blocking somebody, put up his hands and somehow something popped. Dunn has surgery scheduled for next week.

"It defined itself," Wulff said of the decision to redshirt Dunn. "Aaron and I have talked about it and unfortunately it's not the way you want it to be but if it's ever going to happen it's obviously better at this stage than in a year where he's playing."

TURNING TO THE action on the field, the defense had another strong outing, while the offense started off cold in the 80 degree weather.

Cougar quarterbacks Jeff Tuel and Marshall Lobbestael were not able to get into any type of rhythm, and completed passes were few and far between. How bad was it for the air attack? Tuel and Lobbestael combined to go 1-for 7 in the first sequence of 11-on-11's.

The offense however was able to find some production later, highlighted by a 40-plus run and catch play between Tuel and Karstetter.

"Not really," said Wulff when asked if he was bothered by the play of the offense on Friday. "There's been a lot of moments where the offense does well. Yesterday they went up and down the field and today they did some really good things. What's nice is that both sides are starting to make some football plays."

THE COUGAR SECONDARY continued to shine Friday with a series of pass break-ups, plus some sacks from the defensive line.

No one stood out more than redshirt freshman cornerback Nolan Washington.

Washington had two clutch pass break-ups that had play-of-the-day written all over them. The first was when Tuel threw a long pass intended for Jeffrey Solomon. Washington swooped in from off radar and dove full extension to break up the completion.

Later, on the last play of practice, Wulff called out his troops for one last play -- A fourth and goal sequence from the 10 yard line. Tuel threw a rocket into the back of the end-zone that looked to be a surefire TD to WR Daniel Blackledge. But Washington again came from seemingly out of nowhere.

Another full extension dive. Another pass break-up.

"We had a lot intensity out there and when guys are out there making plays and having fun, that's when we make plays," senior safety Chima Nwachukwu said. "A lot of (defensive players) are making plays. It's a defensive effort not just an individual effort."

ANOTHER DEFENDER that stood out was DT Justin Clayton.

With Bernard Wolfgramm (rest) missing practice, Clayton ran the day with the 1's and was a force to be reckoned with, plowing through the offensive line. He put consistent pressure on Tuel, and got to the running backs quickly.

"He's been working hard, he's a highly competitive guy and he's got the right make-up mentally," said Wulff. "He's got great toughness and he's just going to keep at it.. that effort and that kind of attitude is what gets you on the field."

BODIES WERE FLYING all over the field this afternoon, and the passion coming from both groups was in full force. Mid-practice, after Tuel hit Blackledge for a nice gain, DT Brandon Rankin and C Zack Williams kept going at it. The two were shoving one another hard and had to be separated by teammates.

Both looked to be still pretty hot following the skirmish. After practice, Wulff addressed the situation and implored his players to remember they're on the same team.

"Tempers have flared and those things happen," Wulff said. "The guys are competing and sometimes hands get in places they shouldn't be and they get somebody angry and that's just part of it. It's not good, we have to be smart."

THE TWO LINES were in a battle throughout the day, with both having their moments.

The defensive line won the battle with it came to the aerial attack and putting pressure on Tuel and Lobbestael. The offensive line held more of an edge in the running game.

The first team o-line consisted of LT David Gonzales, LG Wade Jacobson, C Zack Williams, RG B.J. Guerra and RT Micah Hannam. True Freshman John Fullington also saw plenty of snaps running with the first team.

The o-line was faced up against the No. 1 defensive line made up of DT's Brandon Rankin and Justin Clayton, and d-ends Travis Long and Kevin Kooyman, with Casey Hamlett also getting in the mix on the edge.

IN PRACTICE FRIDAY, bodies were consistently moving around the offensive line, with both the first team and second team. Andrew Roxas is seeing action at both Center, and Left Guard with the second team.

"They all are getting better and we just have to keep practicing them and giving them opportunities, look at combinations," Wulff said. "We're trying to do our best to get guys to play at a couple spots and develop experience so we have the flexibility to move a guy around if an issue occurs. We'll try and settle it down as we head into this week."

O-line coach Steve Morton talked with CF.C after practice and said he has been impressed with the work ethic, but they also have their work cut out for them as they get ready for the Cowboys just two weeks away.

"We've had good days and bad days, and probably not as many good ones as I want, but it's going (along)," Morton said. "Here's what we need to go -- we need to be pre-snap perfect, be physical, chase perfection with their technique and finish. That's what I expect. I don't care if they're high-school All-Americans or a walk on, those are my expectations."

OL Tyson Pencer was at practice Friday, but he wasn't wearing any pads. Pencer continues to recover from a virus, and Morton said he hopes to get his man back asap.

"When Tyson comes back, and we hope it's very soon, he's going to go in there and he's going to bring competition into a spot, whether it be guard or tackle. And iron sharpens iron. It's unfortunate, that's the thing about a virus but it's created some chaos, (but) chaos needs to be created because that's what a football game is about. Guys have got to be interchangeable -- they've got to be compatible but I have to put them in those situations," said Morton.

TO CLOSE PRACTICE, kickers Nico Grasu and freshman Andrew Furney both connected on their attempts from 47 yards out. On the day both were extremely productive with Grasu going 5-of-6 and Furney hitting on 4-of 5.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Gino Simone (hamstring), Aire Justin (hamstring), Wolfgramm (rest), Andrei Lintz (ankle) Toni Pole (calf contusion) remained sidelined but spent the afternoon riding the training bikes.

  • DT Steven Hoffart recorded the lone take-a-way for the defense, when Lobbestael and RB Leon Brooks couldn't connect on a hand off, and Hoffart pounced on the loose ball.

  • The Cougs will scrimmage tomorrow at 8:30 A.M. with no officials, and then hold a 90-minute afternoon practice starting at 3:30 p.m. The Cougars are more than halfway through Fall camp, with Oklahoma State just over two weeks away.


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