After four warm days on Rogers Field, this afternoon's practice – the last before the Cougars go to full pads – ended on an upbeat note. On what could have been a downbeat day for Washington State fans. Read on for more.
• Before we get into the football practice, we wanted to update the condition of former Cougar baseball coach Bobo Brayton. The 85-year-old was injured Tuesday in an ATV accident on his ranch and admitted into the ICU at Pullman Regional Hospital. Brayton was listed in serious condition, and now he's considered stable. He suffered cuts and abrasions, but whether anything more serious occurred was still unknown. ... Back to football. Our story for tomorrow's S-R is about the renaissance of C.J. Mizell. The sophomore middle linebacker is a different player at practice thus far this season. He's engaged, he's hustling and he's standing out. He did those things in games last year, but he's now doing them on the practice field. We'll link the story when we can. ... So far – and we're four days in with full pads to go on tomorrow and the first two-a-day scheduled for Friday – there haven't been any major injuries. Oh, defensive end Jordan Pu'u Robinson is suffering from some tendonitis in his surgically repaired knee, tackle Toni Pole and linebacker Eric Oertel tweaked hamstrings, and offensive tackle Rico Forbes is dealing with an abdominal strain, but there's been nothing major. Then, within about 15 minutes, a couple of key players had scares Wednesday but both turned out to be nothing. First Jared Karstetter tweaked his right ankle, but after a quick retape, he was back at the receiver position for the rest of the team work to end the day. Then someone rolled up on Marshall Lobbestael's left knee and the backup quarterback had to limp off. But after a quick check, Lobbestael was up, put on a knee brace and was back at it. ... Freshman Daryl Monroe has been running with the twos at the strong side linebacker spot since practice began. But three other freshmen have been getting looks as well, starting yesterday when Chester Su'a filled in for Mizell at middle linebacker because Mizell was not eligible to pad up, being a day behind due to the birth of his daughter. Then today Tana Pritchard and Logan Mayes had their chance, running with the twos on the outside. All four have impressed linebacker coach Chris Tormey and there is a chance at least a couple will see time this season. ... Kicker Andrew Furney had a perfect day during his session, nailing field goals from 37 yards three times and one from 42. ... We went over the punt returners yesterday and there was another player added today when WSU did its coverage drill. Marquess Wilson was back returning kicks. The drill features the returners wearing flags and the coverage guys forced to pull them, so the small quick guys – like Leon Brooks and Marcus Mason – had a distinct advantage. ... After practice ended today, operations manager Shawn Deeds set up and watered a homemade slip-and-slide for the assistant coaches' kids and any players that wanted to participate. The offensive linemen were the most avid participants – especially Wade Jacobson – but the most interesting guy to hit the plastic? Head coach Paul Wulff. Check out the video below.
• That's all for tonight. We'll be back in the morning as usual. Until then ...