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An in-depth study of WSU football


COUGARS • UPDATED 11:20 A.M.; 3:15 P.M.

I sit here trying to figure out why the Seattle Sounders are called a football club – ya, I know the real reason, but they do play in a league called the MLS and the S does stand for soccer – and I just can't my mind focused on Washington State athletics. Anyhow, the Pac-10 football media day is tomorrow and I have some thoughts on that and the Cougars' depth chart, which was released yesterday. Read on.
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• One of the most-anticipated parts of media day is the announcement USC has been picked to win the Pac-10 title for the 128th consecutive year or something like that. No, really, everyone seems to think the media's picks are a big deal – except those of us who vote in the poll – and eagerly await its release. I think there are a couple of givens this season: USC and Cal will be picked 1-2 and UW and WSU will be 9-10, though there might be a huge shock and the order at the top could be flopped. But before the media's picks are announced, why don't you share yours? Let the readers of this site know how you feel. After all, the six teams in the middle of the Pac-10 could finish in just about any order, it seems to me, so someone has to hit it exactly, right? It could be you, could be me. Maybe it'll be the guy who puts the names in a bag and pulls them out. Go ahead, use the comment area. If there's enough response, I'll let you know how I voted – and, yes, I came this close to just drawing the middle six out of a hat.

• Let's switch gears for a minute. The website for the Australian national team had a report yesterday (or is today in Australia?) concerning Cougar basketball recruit Brock Motum and a calf injury. Turns out it was just a strain and Motum should be ready to go when school starts next month.

• UPDATE: Coach Paul Wulff and athletic director Jim Sterk are going to hold on-line chats next week, with Sterk on Monday and Wulff on Tuesday. To send questions to Sterk, click here; for Wulff, here.

• UPDATE NO. 2: ESPN's Ted Miller has this look at WSU on his Pac-10 blog.

• Now back to football. I wasn't near a computer yesterday when WSU's football outlook and two-deep was released, so I couldn't share some of the highlights then. By the way, the depth chart released before camp doesn't list any of the incoming players, so a Travis Long or a Darren Markle or a Gino Simone aren't part of the mix yet. Anyhow, here's what we've got: ... Senior Kevin Lopina and sophomore Marshall Lobbestael are listed as "or" starters at quarterback (in other words, they go into fall camp even), one of three positions listed that way. ... The receiving corps has Daniel Blackledge, Kevin Norrell and Jared Karstetter listed as the starters, but this is one group that is truly up-in-the-air. Just about anyone, from those guys to Johnny Forzani to Jeshua Anderson to Jeffrey Solomon to the aforementioned Simone, could emerge as not only a starter but to go-to guy as well. ... The interesting note in the offensive line is Steven Ayers must have showed enough over the spring and summer to win the left tackle spot outright. Junior Joe Eppele is listed on the right side as a co-starter with junior Micah Hannam, who started every game last season. Hannam is coming off shoulder surgery, so that could be playing a part. Speaking of shoulder surgery, junior Brian Danaher, who also had his repaired in the off-season, is listed as the backup at both guards. It's part of coach Paul Wulff's philosophy to have guys able to play multiple positions. ... There is still a dearth of depth up front on defense, with only 10 starts last season for the 10 guys listed – and eight have dnp next to their names. Among those who did not play, however, are JC transfers Bernard Wolfgramm, coming off back surgery, and Josh Luapo, who came in during the spring. They are listed as co-starters next to junior Toby Turpin at tackle. If Wolfgramm is healthy enough to go, he'll be the guy. ... Before we leave the d-line, senior Jesse Feagin, who sat out last season getting his academics in order, is listed as the starter opposite senior Kevin Kooyman at end. Feagin was almost unblockable at times in the spring. ... Linebacker has probably more depth than anywhere else on the defense, though sophomore Louis Bland is still limping from his knee surgery and sophomore Alex Hoffman-Ellis, the raw middle backer, is coming off the same thing. ... The corner spots, once again, are unproven, with Cal transfer Brandon Jones, a junior, and sophomore Aire (formerly Tyrone) Justin listed as starters. Justin started six games last year. Backing up are two redshirt freshmen, Daniel Simmons and Terrance Hayward, a converted wide receiver, junior Anthony Houston, and sophomore Shane Thomas, who will be a special-teams standout.

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• That's it for this morning. Center Kenny Alfred, one of the most interesting college football players you'll ever meet, is the Cougars player representative at the Pac-10 media day, so I'm looking forward to hearing what the senior has to say. Tomorrow, we'll be attending the rules meeting, in which all the changes for this year are explained, then be at the press conferences. You can access them if you wish at the Pac-10 website and can tweet your questions to the conference's Twitter account. New commissioner Larry Scott will talk at 9:35 a.m. (and again at 12:25 p.m.), with Wulff and Alfred to follow at 9:45 a.m. Each coach is scheduled for 15 minutes. We'll be on throughout the day. 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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