FROM PULLMAN — It appears another Washington State running back will be unavailable this week, which means some new faces could emerge in the Cougars' backfield on Saturday. Read on.
Leon Brooks, WSU's No. 3 option at running back, was on crutches today with his right foot in a walking boot. So it would appear that Brooks will be out this week, along with Teondray Caldwell, who still hasn't practiced after taking a hit to the head against California.
Carl Winston and Marcus Mason, who has yet to play at running back this season, appear to be WSU's top two options at running back, with receiver Bennett Bontemps moving over to take some snaps in the backfield, as well.
“He’s played it before and does some good stuff, and we’ll work him there some,” coach Mike Leach said. “He does a lot of stuff, so just kind of expand it a little.”
I asked Leach about the importance of running the ball against a team like Stanford that pressures the quarterback so well. He said it “kind of depends what they do. They blitz a certain amount, but they’re real physical, both levels are physical. In particular, there’s other physical fronts but they’re pretty physical with their linebackers. It depends what they do, it depends what they give you.”
And: “We’re getting a little more precise with it. We’ve cycled through a bunch of people. I think that our biggest thing is being precise and being physical up front.
“It’s important especially if they give you the numbers and stuff like that. You’ve got to be able to do it. We’ve been inconsistent at it but we’re improving.”
Brooks spent quite a while doing exercises — rolling, crawling, etc. — in the sand pit under the watch of strength coach Jason Loscalzo
Also missing from practice was receiver Isiah Myers. Asked if he expects Myers to travel with the team to Stanford this weekend, Leach gave a typical, “we'll see what happens” response. Not sure what's up there.
Taylor Meighen still isn't practicing, either.
Leach was asked some more about his Twitter ban, including a question about a workout this morning at 5:30 that was apparently conducted as punishment for some of the worst offenders.
Leach's response: “You’ll have to get up at 5:30 in the morning if you want to know anything about that.”
Asked about his players' response to the ban, Leach said, “I don't care what their reactions are.”
Asked what he thought of the public's reaction, Leach said — and you're not going to believe this, but bear with me here — “Again, I don't care. So they can talk about it however they want but in the meantime we’re not going to have Twitter.”
Today's end-of-practice competition — sumo wrestling. Leach picked two players to go against each other, then alternated between asking the offense and the defense which player they thought would win. If that player won, the unit that made the selection would stand and laugh as the other side performed up-downs. But if a predicted player didn't win, the side that chose him had to do the up-downs.
Winners, in order, were: Xavier Cooper over Destiny Vaeao; Max Hersey over Eric Oertel; Marcus Mason over Bennett Bontemps; Dominique Williams over Marquess Wilson; Brett Bartolone over Taylor Taliulu; and Alex Den Bleyker over Ryan Saparto.