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The Washington State football team ended three weeks of fall camp with a no-tackle swimmage Friday night and now begin preparation for the Idaho Vandals, WSU's opening-day opponent next Thursday.
"We just wanted to get substitutions done in a game like situation," Cougar Head Coach Bill Doba explained. "We have had enough hitting, the kids are tired of hitting each other."
"Offensively we are ahead of where we were a year ago," he said. "Defensively we re trying some new things. We've had some assignment errors we need to get that cleaned up."
Jerome Harrison broke loose on a 39-yard run and freshman Brandon Gibson caught a 16-yard scoring pass from Gary Rogers during the drills that were controlled and designed to emphasize specific situations.
After the workout Doba talked about several players who have made strides during the first three weeks of fall camp.
"There were quite a few surprises, really," he said. "I think Lorenzo Bursey had improved as a corner and DeMaundray Woolridge picked it up quicker than I thought he would," Doba said in discussing players who are expected to play. "DeWayne Patterson is doing a good job and will play."
As many as nine freshmen and three transfers could end up seeing playing time, some on special teams, according to Doba. "This class has a lot of speed."
He also singled out two returning players for their improvement this fall. "Don Turner has had a good fall camp and Wally Dada is a smart player, probably playing above his ability because he is a good technician and studies football," Doba commented.
"Ropati Pitoitua is a big loss," Doba said of the sophomore defensive tackle who will miss six to eight weeks after having surgery Friday to repair a broken fibula in his right leg.
"We have lost a 6-7 tight end (Cody Boyd) and 6-9 defensive tackle (Pitoitua)," he said. "Those guys don't grow on trees. They are tough to replace. It's kind of like losing a Will Derting at linebacker, losing Ropati at tackle. He is a premier player."
"I challenged the other guys," said Doba. "Somebody is going to have to step up and get better in a hurry. If they don't it hurts all of us. We'll see if they can accept that challenge. Fevaea'i Ahmu is a young kid (freshman) who has some skills. I said before Will has great instincts at linebacker and Ahmu has instincts at d-tackle. He is a little inexperienced. His last scrimmage was down in San Diego."
Looking ahead to next week's practice, Doba said there would not be a lot of scrimmage-like hitting. "We won't be doing much one versus one next week.
The Cougars will pose for team and individual photos Saturday morning, then begin preparations for the opener with Idaho Sunday in a 2:30 p.m. practice.
Scoring - Harrison 39 run, Gibson 16 pass from Rogers;
Rushing - Harrison 5/52, Tardy 12/36, Moss 4/30, Woolridge 4/2, Brink 1/4, Asuega-Stark 2/2, Rogers 1/-9, Swogger 2/-12;
Passing - Brink 9/13/1/85/0/24, Rogers 12/24/2/80/1/16, Swogger 4/6/0/49/0/24, Morgan 1/3/0/7/0/7, Hall 0/1/0/0/0/0;
Receiving - Martin 8/41, Bumpus 4/51, Hill 3/16, Bienemann 2/29, Prator 2/6, Gibson 2/31, Taylor 1/9, Harvey 1/12, Harrison 1/5, Woodard 1/8, Tardy 1/8, Thompson 1/7;
Sacks - Bruce, Braidwood, Graise, Eichelberger;
Interceptions - Willis 2, Turner.