PULLMAN – A procession of Washington State football players will make their way to head coach Bill Doba’s office in the next two days to talk about their roles on the team in the aftermath of spring football. The meetings are part of WSU’s normal post-spring routine, and the message from the head coach is usually simple.
“I like to go into the fall with everybody knowing exactly where they stand, ensure there’s no miscommunication,” Doba said.
But no matter how well Doba lets his players know where they stand individually, it will remain a mystery as to how well they stand as a unit, one that will go unsolved until the season begins Sept. 2 at Wisconsin.
To be sure, the Cougars are not a perfect squad coming out of spring practices, a fact evidenced by Doba’s suggestion that about a dozen incoming recruits could play immediately this fall, skipping a redshirt season.
But WSU also found some strengths over the course of the spring, most notably at wide receiver where the starting trio of Michael Bumpus, Charles Dillon and Brandon Gibson figures to give defenses plenty to worry about in preparation.
Although it was a rough spring at the running back position, where DeMaundray Woolridge was an academic casualty and Derrell Hutsona was kept out of practice for similar reasons, Doba said he thinks there is enough on hand to fare well in the fall. Aside from starter Dwight Tardy, the head coach liked what he saw – ever so briefly – of Chris Ivory, who had to leave the team midway through the spring to attend to a family matter at home but is expected back for the summer session.
“Chris Ivory, I think, will be awesome,” Doba said. “I really liked Ivory while we had him. He’s big and he’s strong. What I like is he puts that foot in the ground, he plants it and – boom – he can make that quick side step.”
WSU did not escape the spring unscathed.
Scrimmages were generally kept short because of thin numbers, and Doba said Tuesday that one injury to defensive end Lance Broadus could cost him part of the season.
Broadus will likely have surgery Friday to repair a dislocated shoulder, and the coach indicated that the senior could miss a game or two at the season’s start.
Defensive tackle Aaron Johnson could also be headed for surgery after an evaluation on a bulging disc in Seattle that took place Tuesday. But even if the procedure is necessary, Doba said he hoped Johnson would be available at the start of the fall. The same is true for fellow tackle Feveae’i Ahmu, who is recovering from foot surgery.
One other issue that remains unresolved is that of team captaincy. Doba said the players voted Monday, and it’s likely that the results will be known sometime this week. Quarterback Alex Brink is the only returning captain, and he’ll likely be joined by three others.
“I get 105 votes and they get one,” Doba joked. “No, I pretty much go with what they say.”