|That was a problem last year when Southwest lost two
starters in the summer and two more after week one of the regular
season. Washington went on
to say tongue-in-cheek, "I'm going to tell them today you can't
have any injuries. So if
you think you're going to get hurt get it out of your mind."
The Cougars' coaching staff has changed this year. Dave Burrell takes over as the offensive coordinator and he brings a wealth of experience. He held the same position at Santa Monica Community College where he had been for the last 18 years. Southwest will try to spread the opposing defense and use the whole field. The defensive staff remains intact with some new additions. Chris Long, a former Cougars linebacker in '93-'94, will coach the linebackers. Darrell Divinity, who played under Washington in high school, will coach the defensive line.
Coach Washington feels that the defense will be the strong point of his team. They return all four of their starting defensive lineman and secondary personnel from last year. On offense they are young but talented.
Here are the players raising eyebrows heading into the regular season:
Chris Phillips (6-0, 170) SO
John Brown (5-5, 170) FR
Darrell Hester (5-5 190) FR
Rex Stewart (5-11, 180) SO
Cameron Moore (6-1, 170) SO
Brandon Thompson (6-2, 200) SO
This is the biggest question mark. It didn't help that the Jaguars' top OL from last year, Shaun Citizen, transferred to Compton in the offseason. "If we can improve with some of (our) freshman we think we will make a real dent. But if not, we'll be running for our lives," said Washington of his offensive line.
OG Jesus Lepe (6-2, 320) SO
DT Eric Davis (6-4, 230) SO
DE Ernest Davis (6-6, 190) SO
DT Elijuawon Thomas (6-3, 240) SO
DE Andrew Gill (6-3, 235) SO
This unit will miss the presence of graduated linebackers, Daniel Urquhart (signed USC) and Chris Bohannon. Both were all-conference performers.
MLB Walter Mebane (6-0, 230) FR
Leo Nobles (6-2, 210) SO
S Robert Jordan (6-1, 190) SO
CB Chimah Chindah (5-9, 175) SO
CB Justin Cooper (6-0, 195) SO
CB Cedric Piper (5-6, 145) SO
The Cougars cannot afford to have any starters fall to injury this year because Coach Washington doesn't feel that the depth is there to compensate for that. His 21 years of experience are being put to the test in 2002. The Cougars have the talent to compete for a bowl birth this year if they can stay healthy.
TEAM & PROSPECT PREVIEW: LA Southwest
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