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Thu., Sept. 22, 2011, 4:51 p.m.

Bye week ends on a lighter note

COUGARS

The final practice of the bye week went off without a hitch, with Washington State dropping the pads and going without the hitting. Meanwhile, a freshman is emerging on the defensive line. Read on.

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• After two days of hitting during the bye, WSU coach Paul Wulff decided to dial it back a bit Thursday. The players wore their soft shoulder pads, shorts and helmets so the team sessions did not include tackling. Practice also started about 90 minutes earlier than usual, so a few players, including running back Logwone Mitz, were not able to participate. No one that was on the sick list Wednesday reappeared Thursday, though linebacker Sekope Kaufusi did more today despite having his thumb bandaged. ... One player who has made immense strides the past couple weeks is freshman defensive end Logan Mayes. The son of Cougar great Rueben, Mayes came into camp as a 6-foot-3, 218-pound linebacker. But his quickness off the ball soon had him running with the defensive line. That's when his pass-rushing ability started to show up. He was running with the second group at left defensive end, in the spot where Adam Coerper was the starter until his knee injury against San Diego State. Now, according to Wulff, Mayes may be on the field against Colorado in a week. "He's looked good," Wulff said. "There's a chance we could play him this next weekend, we've discussed that and given him opportunities in practice this week and (will) next week. If things go well next week, then our plan is to play him." Mayes isn't the largest defensive end, but Wulff doesn't think that's a problem. "He's going to help on special teams, he's going to help on pass-rush situations. There are a lot of things we could do as the season evolves, it doesn't necessarily always have to be his hand on the ground. As our package grows and as he develops, there are things we can do." That pass-rushing ability showed in a one-on-one drill Thursday when Mayes was lined up with starting right tackle Wade Jacobson. On the first snap, Mayes ripped through to the outside and beat Jacobson with a speed rush. On the next snap, he faked outside, then swam back inside, throwing an off-balance Jacobson aside. It was the final two snaps of a long drill and the d-line exploded. ... The Cougars are off until Sunday and I asked Wulff what he told his players looking toward the two days off. The main emphasis, Wulff said, was on being careful and staying safe.

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• That's it for tonight. As always, we'll be back in the morning. 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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