Running Backs Gain Ground Saturday

Aug. 18, 2001

PULLMAN, Wash. -- - Washington State's running backs accounted for 180 yards Saturday and the Cougars' top defensive unit did not give up a score as WSU ran through its third scrimmage in a week.

Jevon Miller, John Tippins, Lavell Anderson and Rafael Bolton all had touchdown runs and Jason Gesser hit Mike Bush with a 34-yard scoring pass during the scrimmage, but none of the scores came against WSU's number one defensive unit.

'The defense was really opportunistic,' commented head coach Mike Price. 'James Price (linebacker) played like a veteran, like he is suppose to play and as always our secondary played well.'

The defense's score came on a 25-yard fumble return by D.D. Acholonu, while Ira Davis and Marcus Trufant each picked off passes to lead the Cougar's defensive effort.

'The kicking game is looking good,' Price proclaimed after watching Drew Dunning bang home a 52-yarder, one of his nine successful field goals in 10 tries. Dunning has missed just three field goals in 28 scrimmage attempts. Saturday both Nick Lambert and Graham Saderius hit on seven of 10 field goal tries.

Price, who said he was pleased with all of his young running backs, singled out Lavell Anderson, who picked up 50 yards with 10 rushing attempts. Senior John Tippins gained 37 yards and Allen Thompson 25 on the ground.

Unlike WSU's first two scrimmages, Saturday's workout was held under game-like conditions.

'We had all the coaches off the field, called the plays and signaled the plays in,' said Price. 'The new plays we put in, particularly on offense, were very effective. I like that. There were not a lot of penalties on the first offense. I think we went offsides once and we had one fumble.'

Price also had good things to say about Gesser, who completed seven of his 13 passes for 89 yards. He has yet to throw an interception in three scrimmages.

'Jason is having a good camp,' Price commented. 'He is throwing the ball well and for the most part we are catching it well. Jason knows what he is doing out there. He is almost one step ahead of the team at times. He knows what he is doing and he is playing with confidence and poise. He just needs to work on a couple of things and he knows what he has to work on. I think it is the best I've seen him play.'

Price held several players out of the practice, including running back Dave Minnich, who was not present while recovering from the flu. Minnich is still sidelined with a slight groin pull.

'This time last year our health was horrendous and the before it was even worse,' offered Price. 'It seems like it (injuries) hit one area this year, middle linebacker. We have had almost 300 plays in our scrimmage and we are generally injury free from the scrimmages.'

WSU's final scrimmage will be Wednesday in a dress rehearsal for the season opener Aug. 30 against Idaho. Wednesday's 7:00 p.m. workout, for the most part, will be non-contact, with the Cougar offense and defense running against scout teams simulating Idaho Vandal offensive and defensive formations.

SCORING: Miller 2 run, Tipppins 1 run, Acholonu 25 fumble return, Anderson 26 run, Bush 34 pass from Gesser, Bolton 2 run.
RUSHING: Tippins 8/37, Wilson 7/16, Gesser 5/0, Thompson 9/25, McElrath 2/24, Kegel 2/-14, Anderson 10/50, Miller 7/12, Harvey 1/14, Hurd 2/-10, Bolton 1/2.
PASSING: Gesser 7/13/0/89/1/34, Ena 0/4/0/0/0/0, Kegel 1/5/1/5/0/5, Hurd 10/17/1/106/0/33.
RECEIVING: McElrath 1/8, Thielbahr 1/10, Harvey 1/1, Ostrander 4/62, Martin 3/44, Lunde 1/9, Bush 2/54, Miller 1/-4, Thompson 1/8, Anderson 1/4.
INTERCEPTION: Davis, Trufant.
SACKS: Cook, Tuupo, Acholonu, Joseph, Long.
FIELDGOALS: Dunning 9/10 (Long 52), Lambert 7/10, Siderius 7/10.

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