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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Weather chases Cougars to Pullman

There was a time, today, when Bud Withers and I thought we might be late for practice. It seems silly now, but you see, but construction crews were doing something called "chip sealing" on US-195 South, shutting down all but one lane, forcing Bud and I to spend upwards of 15 minutes stalled outside of Colton watching the wheat grow.

Little did we know that unsealed chips would be the least of our troubles.

Follow the jump for our thrilling conclusion.

We received word near Uniontown (which had basically no Civil War presence) that wildfires near Washington State's fall camp home of Lewiston, Idaho were causing an air quality problem and practice was delayed.

The air didn't seem all that bad where Bud and I were so we decided to push through and hope that the things would clear up and that we would arrive at Sacajawea Junior High right on time, no worse for wear.

Now, if you've never been to Lewiston, it's a gorgeous trip. The final five miles or so to the city are directly downhill, and the only way to keep your vehicle going 65 or under are to shift into the lowest possible gear, or to ride our brake like your life depends on it.

This is what you're supposed to see on your descent:

This is a rough approximation of what we saw.

Lewiston had been blanketed by smoke and we could barely make out the buildings. Rather than reenact the Beijing Olympics, it was decided that the Cougars should head north to Pullman to make use of their indoor practice facility.

In coach Mike Leach's words, "They've got some (air quality) scale and they measure it. It was way over the scale, so we came here."

The Cougars eventually made it to Pullman, despite a bus breaking down on route. Practice started around 5:30 (it usually ends at 5:20) and things resumed more or less as normal.

"Once we got in here, we had good work, with plenty of distractions," Leach said. "Maybe in the end, the bright side was good practice, even though it was disrupted."

OK, there were a few differences. For one, the starting cornerbacks today were Charleston White and Daquawn Brown. Previously, Tracy Clark had been running with the ones opposite Brown. It sounds like it's a pretty fluid position, however, and defensive coordinator Mike Breske said after practice that he hopes to get Pat Porter some time with the starting unit later on.

The Cougars broke up their drills a little differently today. The team spent a fair amount of time on a run game drill with the defensive line and linebackers squaring off against the offensive line, a running back and an occasional tight end. So basically an 11-on-11 session minus the receivers, secondary and running plays.

From our media vantage point it was hard to see the first string offense run this drill, but freshman Squally Canada had a nice run for about 10 yards through the heart of the starting defense.

Paris Taylor moved from safety to outside linebacker and certainly looks physical enough for the position. He's had big hits all camp, and put another one on fellow linebacker Tana Pritchard during individual drills.

During the skeleton drill we again watched the backups, and got to see Peyton Bender throw. I get the impression the scout team offense will be in good hands this season, and Bender appears to have a connection forming with freshman receiver Keith Harrington, who he completed many passes to today.

The offensive lines and defensive lines spent the skeleton drill session wailing on each other, with the offensive line doing its best to keep QB/Athlete Erik Anderson upright while the defensive line tried to sack him.

The defensive line is the more dominant unit and was again on Monday. Leach has said that Riley Sorenson has played well lately and it appeared like he may have pulled ahead of Sam Flor in the contest to see who the team's starting center will be.

But Sorenson had consecutive bad snaps in the drill and was subbed out for Flor. Sorenson was then made to roll back and forth across the field at the end of practice.

The Cougars returned to Lewiston after practice and will try to finish up camp at Sacajawea Junior High. Weather permitting, of course. 

Jacob Thorpe
Jacob Thorpe joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the Sports Desk covering Washington State University athletics.

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