WSU d-line dances to own music Wednesday

PULLMAN -- Simulating road conditions, with the opener at Oklahoma State now just 10 days away, the Cougs closed out Wednesday's 95-degree session at Martin Stadium with the noise of screaming fans blaring out of the stadium's speakers. The Cougar defensive line turned the racket into a private anthem.

Over a four-play series in the two-minute drill, DTs Bernard Wolfgramm and Brandon Rankin recorded sacks on back-to-back plays. And DE Kevin Kooyman barely missed a third.

Throughout the final 30 minutes of the session, the defense owned the turf.

It all started out front with Wolfgramm and Rankin on the inside with Kooyman and Travis Long on the edge, with the d-line simply having their way with the offensive line.

"Right now you look at our defensive line and we've got two fifth-year seniors, we have a fourth-year player in Brandon Rankin age wise, and we have Travis Long," Wulff said. "They are our oldest group on our football team, they're the most mature, and they're the best. That's why they're playing very well right now."

Just how good is this d-line feeling right now? Kooyman, one of those fifth year seniors, broke into a big smile when CF.C asked about his confidence level.

"You know it's really exciting," Kooyman said. "I've been here for five years and this definitely is the best d-line that we've had, and we're just really excited about it.

EVERYTHING WASN'T AS CRISP for the Cougs, however. The offense struggled moving the ball downfield and never quite found their rhythm. Other than an amazing grab by WR Jared Karstetter, hauling in a 30 yard deep ball from QB Jeff Tuel, the offense didn't produce many nearly enough positive plays.

"We just didn't respond," Wulff said. "It was a very hot day but we very well could face these conditions in the first game. We just have to play better, respond better, and just work through it. It wasn't a bad practice, but it was just one of those "okay" practices. Not good enough."

The offensive line struggled a bit with their protection of Tuel and Marshall Lobbestael, and couldn't open up very many holes for the running backs.

"It's back and forth every day -- offense is going to win some, then the defense will win some, that's how it is," center Zack Williams said.

As for Williams, one of the most fiery among the linemen, his intensity reached a high during the middle of practice when he got into a slight skirmish with DT Anthony Laurenzi. The two were separated by teammates quickly. Williams says not to read too much into those post-play scrums.

"We never take it off the field," Williams says. "It's done as soon as we get off the field. I get in fights with my roommates but once we get home it's no big deal and it's just all love. We talked about it the other day and we're tired of going against each other. But it's something we have to do to prepare for the game. I'm ready to keep practicing and let game-day comes when it comes."

ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE LT Tyson Pencer continued to work with the 2's on Wednesday and is still trying to get back into game shape after missing the first part of camp with a stomach ailment.

LT David Gonzales has been seeing all the action with the first team, and Wulff said Gonzales is his guy there. But Pencer could get into the conversation at one of the tackle spots if...

"Right now, he's a ways away because of the conditioning level we're dealing with so it's a work in progress," Wulff said. "He's missed a lot of camp so he's not in game ready shape. But if he can get in game ready shape, then I think at that time he can get more in the mix."

MEANWHILE, ON THE inside of the line, Andrew Roxas was looking to be the starter at Center during the spring and headed into fall camp before being replaced by Williams. Roxas continues to work with the 2's at both center and left guard.

Roxas is a standout with the second team unit whether he plays guard or center, and Wulff says he needs him to be ready.

"There's no question Andrew's got to be ready to play all three positions inside," Wulff said. "It's very important that he does that for us."

BACK ON DEFENSE, CB Nolan Washington, who injured his hip on Tuesday, came out and tried to give it a go this afternoon but he looks to need a little more time to heal up. Washington came out of practice after a short stint and called it a day.

"It's something in the hip joint," Wulff said on Washington's injury.. "We're still looking at it so hopefully we can get that ironed out."

CB Anthony Carpenter filled in for Washington alongside Daniel Simmons, and held his own going up against the veteran Karstetter. Karstetter had two nice grabs to close out practice, but Carpenter looked to be very physical and provided tight coverage in the secondary overall.

THE COUGARS WILL scrimmage tomorrow night at 7 p.m. (a change from 4 p.m.) at Martin Stadium and Wulff said the Cougs will play four quarters at eight minutes each.

"We just want to go through the formalities of a game, probably hit all our specials teams…" Wulff said."We'll do four quarters and probably make sure we do a two minute drill. Other than that we're going to try and make it like a (real game), it will just be shorter."

  • The battle at K continues with Nico Grasu and Andrew Furney going head to head. Wulff said both are continuing to make progress, but the spot is still anyone's to win. "They're both kicking well at times," Wulff said. "Nico has the game experience, Andrew doesn't so we're just going to wait and see how that unfolds. Chances are they're both going to kick initially but I haven't made a decision yet on that."

  • The offense was out of synch but they didn't make things worse by turning the ball over. LB Myron Beck recorded the lone takeaway for the defense today during the teams 7-on-7 Skelly drill, jumping in front of a Tuel pass intended for WR Jeffrey Solomon.

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