The first practice of the college football season is a hodge-podge of activity.
There's the new guys running around, often so overwhelmed with information it just doesn't compute. "Paralysis by analysis," is how head coach Bill Doba put it Sunday.
There's the loss of players over the spring and summer, players that might have been relied upon to contribute, and the subsequent shuffling necessary to compensate. As far as we can figure, the Cougs lost 10 guys with eligibility remaining, including running backs DeMaundary Woolridge and Derrell Hutsona, backup quarterback Arkelon Hall, safety DeWayne Patterson, defensive lineman Bryan Tarkington and offensive lineman Derek Hunter. Wide receiver Michael Willis and linebacker Jason Stripling are practicing, but ineligible.
There's the loss of old coaches and the gain of the new, with new voices, new perspectives and new ideas. Though Robb Akey has left to coach the University of Idaho, Doba has taken over Akey's spot as defensive coordinator and new corner coach Dave Walkosky has taken over Akey's role as the enthusiastic and energetic voice who echoes over practice. Walkosky is joined by new defensive line coach Marty Long – another of Akey's old roles – and first-year running back coach Steve Broussard, who made his name in the Palouse in the late 1980s as one of the Cougs' all-time best running backs.
There's no pads, so there is no real hitting, but there is a real threat of injuries, something the Cougs avoided Sunday, with only a slight neck strain suffered by defensive lineman Kevin Kooyman marring what would have been a perfect day. He is expected back Monday. Another player expected back Monday is Michael Bumpus, who missed the first day with what was described as a paperwork snafu. Doesn't seem like a big deal. Also, heralded recruit Terry Mixon's summer conditioning was limited by a foot injury - Doba said he has a screw in place, but shouldn't be too limited by it now - and needs to get into better shape, according to the coach.
With all that, it's surprising any steps are taken. But there were some. Remember, though, all these observations were made after one day of helmet-only practice. That's not enough time for anyone, even a grizzled old veteran coach, of which I'm not, to make a determination of what the future will hold.