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New faces in new spots for WSU


COUGARS

We've put our story up, so I guess it's time to get going on our practice report. We also include some more on the three defensive players. Read on.
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• Not everything we write can make it into the paper, due to the limitations of space. But that doesn't mean we always just toss it away. As we were writing the story on the local products, we put together a couple more anecdotes that just didn't fit in. The first is a pretty funny exchange the three had about Oregon's offensive line, which was ticketed to go after Mattingly's quote about the Cougars having to start fast ...

Especially on the defensive line, where Spitz and Long will line up against a group that includes two Inland Northwest products: Central Valley High's C.E. Kaiser and Carson York from Lake City.

"They're big," Spitz said. "But we just went against the most athletic O-line, probably, that we are going to see."

Mattingly interrupted, playing the joker once again.

"They're soft, especially No. 68 (Kaiser)," Mattingly said, laughing.

"Is that the kid from CV?" Spitz asked.

"Ya," Mattingly responded.

"He's pretty good," Spitz said.

"They've got a guard who's 6-7, like 330," Long interjected, referring to Oregon sophomore Mark Asper. "He's huge."

"They're a really good offensive line," said Mattingly, turning serious. "They've got really good technique. They're a zone team, they like to ..."

"Get in your way," Spitz said, finishing his sentence.

• I also asked the guys who was the best player they played against in the GSL. Mattingly's answer was Leon Jackson, who, of course, played at Pasco High, which is not a GSL school if you are from out of the area. So I immediately threw that out. But the response of the two others might surprise you.

"No, not at all," said Spitz, a redshirt freshman, when asked if they were surprised so many players from the local area were playing in the Pac-10. However, both Spitz and Long thought the best player they played against is now playing in the Big Sky.

"Alex Shaw," Spitz answered when asked the best player he competed against. "He was an athlete."

"Shaw, ya," Long agreed. "He messed up my jaw."

Seems Shaw, who played for Lewis and Clark High and now is at the University of Montana, kneed Long right in the helmet on a goal-line play, knocking his jaw out of place for "about a week."

• OK, that's that from them. Now back to practice. Assistant sports information director Joe Nickell and I were comparing notes today from a competition we have each year. The first week of fall camp we each pick an offensive and defensive first-year player (if the player redshirted a year, he was included) who will have the most impact. The rules preclude either from taking one of the touted players, so the Gino Simones, James Montgomerys and Travis Longs of the team were out. We had to go off the beaten path. Joe picked Tyson Pencer and Darren Markle, though I argued Markle was too well known. He wouldn't change. I went for Carl Winston and Dan Spitz. Right now, we've decided, he's winning on offense and I'm getting the defensive points. But if Winston plays this week, and the way he's running at practice, I'll be surprised if he doesn't – and continues to play a lot the rest of the year – I'll forge ahead. And Joe might just be out of luck, because Markle will almost certainly redshirt. So he can pick him again next season. ... If you read this blog, you know I've thought Winston was special from the beginning. It's not just his burst, which he has, or his smaller stature, which makes him tough to find and tackle. Mostly it's his desire to win the battle with the defender. When contact is impossible to avoid, Winston will explode into the always-bigger tackler. Rarely does the 5-8, 197-pound Winston fall backward after being tackled. ... Wulff thought Tuesday's practice was a little sluggish – it didn't lack in emotion, he said, it just was slow because that's the nature of a Tuesday, game-planning practice – but Wednesday's was crisp. ... Defensively, Wulff believes the Cougars made strides. He said they need to play at a high level, with emotion and they must tackle well to slow the Duck attack. The one-on-one tackling situations will be the key. ... He's happy with one defensive stat: WSU is tied for first in the Pac-10 in turnovers forced (11). The Hawaii debacle is the only thing killing the Cougars ratio. He wants the defense to continue to hawk the ball, something it did well in practice. ... Jeff Tuel? Wulff said he's had a good week of practice. Reserve offensive lineman Alex Reitnouer, the freshman who may get some snaps at guard Saturday? He's cramming, learning all he can about the position – he's been playing tackle – and doing his best to understand it.

•••

• That's it for now. We'll be back in the morning with our usual stuff. 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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