Junior receiver Shawn Tims, somewhat overlooked during Washington State’s 3-1 start, will be a lot harder to miss Saturday night.
“He’s going to start the Arizona game as our punt returner,” WSU football coach Mike Price announced Tuesday.
Kevin McKenzie, whose punt-fielding troubles continued in Saturday’s win over San Jose State, will return punts on a limited basis.
Tims and McKenzie successfully fielded five of six punts apiece during practice Tuesday, and kickoff returner Nian Taylor also participated. All three stayed after practice, working with punter Jeff Banks.
McKenzie has dropped two punts in each of the last two games.
“It’s kind of rough back there,” Tims said. “Especially when stuff’s been happening.
“All they’re saying is, ‘Just grab the ball, catch the ball, look it in.’ It’s kind of hard thinking about all that.”
The lineup change may provide Tims with his best opportunity to catch the football. He starts ahead of McKenzie at slotback, but went without a catch Saturday and ranks fifth on the team with six this season.
Chad Carpenter leads the Cougars with 16 catches, and McKenzie ranks second with 10.
“I was expecting to catch a few more balls,” Tims said, “but we’ve been completing passes - I can’t complain.
“The times I have been open and (Ryan Leaf) hasn’t thrown it, somebody else is open 20 yards farther downfield. It’s OK.”
Cash, check or face charges?
If Florida State is Free Shoes U., what does that make USC?
Of all the scandals involving Trojans during the last year - Shawn Walters, Errick Herrin and Delon Washington come to mind - none is more difficult to comprehend than the one that will keep four starters from playing this week.
Darrell Russell, Sammy Knight, Brian Kelly and Larry Parker were suspended for Saturday’s game against Cal after swapping their school-issued shoes for more fashionable merchandise.
Russell, a preseason All-American, told the Los Angeles Times he wasn’t aware he had violated the NCAA’s extra-benefits rule.
“Originally, I wanted to trade my SC shoes for a Barry Sanders-model turf shoe, but then I heard SC was going to get some for us,” the junior said. “So instead I traded the shoes in for some hiking boots and a hat.”
Kelly said he went to Nike Town Los Angeles in Beverly Hills and traded in new shoes for clothing, using a $55 store credit.
“I didn’t know it was a violation,” he said. “If I had, I wouldn’t have given them my name, phone number and address on the exchange slip.”
Next caller, please
During one of Price’s radio shows on Seattle-based KJR, the WSU coach fell victim to a mischievous Husky fan when host Dave Grosby opened the show to callers.
As Price explained: “Some guy calls in and says, ‘Yeah, I graduated from there in ‘88. And Coach Price, I think you’re just a wonderful coach and a wonderful guy. I just love my education over there. I just learned so much.
“I got my master’s in business from Washington State - it’s just a great educational institution. In fact, I’m at work right now. Just a moment - Hey, do you want fries with that hot dog?!?!’
“And then he hung up. And Groz laughed, too.”
Where’s the O?
Stanford coach Tyrone Willingham hopes the expected return of fullback Greg Comella, who missed the first three games with a sprained knee, will energize his team’s sagging offense in time for Saturday’s game against Washington.
The Cardinal (1-2) rank last in the conference in rushing and total offense.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Comella excels in short-yardage situations. He scored nine touchdowns last season - five more than the Cardinal have scored this season.
Around the Pac-10
WSU linebacker James Darling continues to lead the conference in tackles, averaging 14 per game… . Teammate Michael Black leads the conference with 430 yards rushing, but the Cougars rank eighth in total rushing… . Oregon has lost two consecutive games for the first time since 1994… . Oregon State has thrown a touchdown pass in each of its first four games. The Beavers had one last season… . Stanford leads the Pac-10 in scoring defense, allowing 11 points per game… . Washington nose tackle Sekou Wiggs, who missed spring practice after suffering a broken jaw in a fight with teammate Olin Kreutz, will play this week. Both players remain on the team, but keep their distance. , DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos (1 Color)
The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - Pacific-10 football notebook
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