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Sunny skies, workmanlike practice at WSU

The Cougars will decide before today’s game if Kevin Lopina will start in place of Gary Rogers.  (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
The Cougars will decide before today’s game if Kevin Lopina will start in place of Gary Rogers. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
COUGARS

We didn't get a lot of time at football practice today, but we did have a little. So we deferred to coach Paul Wulff about how it went. On the link you'll find the unedited version of tomorrow's S-R story. Read on.
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• I will say this. There hasn't been a nicer day here since last September. Too bad we couldn't get outside more. Here's our story ...

PULLMAN – There are days emotion can carry a football player to heights unexplored.

Tuesday wasn't one of those days for Washington State University.

As the third week of spring practice opened, and the Cougars basked in the 60-degree temperatures, the passion displayed so eloquently with their pads three days before seemed AWOL.

"Emotionally we weren't really out there," WSU coach Paul Wulff said.

But that doesn't mean it wasn't a productive day.

"The nice thing was we did execute, we did some good things," Wulff said. "We had to pull back our tempo because we only had five defensive linemen today ... but we had actually geared our practice already to more individual type things, so it did actually work out good.

"We really got some things done. It wasn't a rah-rah type of practice but it was very productive."

Defensive line isn't the only spot that's a little thin. The most visible other one is quarterback, with sophomores Marshall Lobbestael recovering from a knee injury and J.T. Levenseller still on crutches with a knee contusion. That leaves senior Kevin Lopina taking a majority of the snaps.

"He's been handed an opportunity," Wulff said. "We hope that he takes full advantage of that and continues to make himself better and that will ultimately make the football better."

"It's too bad they're hurt," said Lopina, who made eight starts last season despite breaking a bone in his back. "It's kind of ironic because I was hurt all last year, I was playing hurt. Now I'm the healthy one."

But no matter the circumstances, Lopina, who last season completed 57 percent of his passes but threw 11 interceptions and no touchdowns, isn't about to throw back the time.

"It's just a great opportunity for me," he said. "I'm going to use it to my advantage and use it every day as a stepping stone in getting better. I feel like I've been getting better this spring, with my reading coverages and hitting open receivers."

SPRING NOTES: With Ken Bone introduced as the new men's basketball coach, Wulff was asked if he still thinks about the day he was introduced. "I did today," he said. "It seems like a long, long time ago. You know how that goes. In other moments, it feels just like last week." ... Coaches from state champion Skyline High were in town to talk with the WSU coaches and observe practice. ... Three defensive linemen – ends Jesse Feagin and Cory Mackay and tackle Josh Luapo – spent part of practice working on weight drills, including dragging weighted bags, along the sidelines. "They have some injuries that are not letting them practice," Wulff said.

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• That's it for tonight. We'll be back in the morning with our usual links. Until then …




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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