Defense Picks Up Pace

April 16, 2005

PULLMAN, Wash. -- - Washington State's offense scored five times, but it was the defense that drew head coach Bill Doba's praise at the end of the Cougars' final scrimmage Saturday in Martin Stadium. A crowd in excess of 1,500 watched the final workout, then stood in line for autographs on the new Cougar football poster.

Jerome Harrison scored on runs of six and four yards, Jed Collins dove into the endzone from one yard out, Kip Curtis caught a five-yard pass from Cole Morgan and Troy Bienemann hauled in a four-yard scoring pass from Alex Brink to account for the offense's scoring plays.

On Defense, Tyron Brackenridge picked off a Morgan pass and raced 64 yards to score, while Adam Braidwood recorded four sacks, Reyshawn Bobo three, Bryan Olson two and Aaron Johnson one sack. Olson led all tacklers with six, while Brackenridge, Braidwood and Alexis Alexander each had five tackles.

'Overall I was very please with our progress,' Doba said after the two-your workout. 'I thought the defense played a little better than they have. I really like the attitude of this club. Defensively our kids moved around pretty well and made some plays. However, we have to be more consistent, both on offense and defense,' the Cougar head coach added.

With last year's early season starter at quarterback Josh Swogger still recovering from foot surgery, Alex Brink and Gary Rogers handled the first two offensive units and when the scrimmage was over, they had nearly identical stats.

Brink, who started last year after Swogger was injured, ran most of the plays with the first unit, completing nine of 17 passes for 156 yards and one touchdown. Rogers also hit nine of 17 passed that picked up 76 yards.

The Cougar defenders held Jerome Harrison to 67 yards and two scores, while Jed Collins picked up 44 yards on the ground. Marty Martin hauled in four passes, as did Curtis.

While Eric Frampton and Odell Howard each forced fumbles, the fact the offense lost the ball led Doba to comment, 'We had a couple of fumbles and we haven't had fumbles before (this spring). That is another thing we have to work on, ball security.'

Kyle Basler boomed punts of 54, 55 and 56 yards, while Graham Siderius had long field goals of 48 and 42 yards.

'We still need to work with our field goal kickers,' Doba said. 'About the time I think one guy has the job won, he will miss two and the other guy comes through. That is something we will have to continue in the fall.'

'We were really sharp early (in the scrimmage),' Doba pointed out. 'We went through six or seven series without any penalties. Then we kind of lost focus and got a little sloppy at the end.'

Asked to list some players who surprised the coaches, Doba pointed to several relatively unknown Cougars.

'I keep saying I was surprised with Gary Rogers' improvement,' he commented. 'All of our quarterbacks have improved. Offensively Sean O'Connor has stepped in and Charles Harris has played pretty well on the offensive line. Today I thought Bryan Olson had a great day. He got free and showed a lot of emotion. We really need a backup defensive tackle. When we get the full compliment of linebackers, that will shore up the running defense.'

And when asked to look ahead to next season, Doba didn't dodge the question.

'I think we are going to be pretty good. There is talent,' he commented. 'You don't know playing against each other. We'll find out against Idaho,' he did caution.

Still, it was obvious he was pleased with the defensive performance in the final scrimmage and with the offense overall this spring.

'Today we improved defensively, overall the consistency of the offense,' he responded when asked to assess 15 spring practice sessions.

Rushing: Collins 20/44, Harrison 14/67, Moss 4/21, Ervin 1/-3, McKinney 1/-1, Brink 4/-24, Rogers 5/-44, Morgan 1/-4, Team 50/78.
Passing: Brink 9/17/0/156/1/45, Rogers 9/17/76/0/39, Morgan 4/7/1/38/1/18, Team 22/41/1/270/2/45.
Receiving: Ward 2/19, Bienemann 3/25, Bumpus 3/44, Reynolds 1/7, Prator 1/9, Boyd 1/33, Martin 4/14, Woodard 1/4, Curtis 4/31, Ostrander 1/39, Totals 22/270.
Scoring: Harrison 6 run, Brackenridge 64 interception return, Collins 1 run, Curtis 5 pass from Morgan, Harrison 4 run, Bienemann 4 pass from Brink.
Interceptions: Brackenridge 64 return.
Forced Fumbles: Frampton and Howard.
Fumble recovery: Abdullah.
Sacks: Braidwood 4, Johnson 1, Bobo 3, Olson 2.
Punts: Basler - 54, 55, 56; Brayton - 43, 39.
Field Goals: Langley - (48), (42), 28, 21, 34, 40; Siderius - 48, 42, (28), 21, (34), 40; Quinby - (34). (Missed)
Tackle Leaders: Olson 6, Brackenridge 5, Braidwood 5, Alexander 5, Howard 4, bass 4, Frampton 4, Skjei 4, Bobo 4, Bell 3, Davis 3, Dildine 3, Blume 3

Bill Drake Injury Report: 'Will Derting had wrist surgery Friday morning to revise his hardware to better promote healing and we are on about an eight-week time frame to take the next step in his training, we hope mid-June. He will be in a post-surgical cast-sling for a little while, then move to a cast. From this point on we are saying eight weeks. The plan was to do this now, which in eight weeks still gives us time to train and lift and get ready for the fall.' Ropati Pitoitua -right knee strain; Chris Baltzer left elbow; Ian Bell left ankle sprain; Marty Martin slight concussion and neck sprain.

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