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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Cougars open practice: Here are players to watch

PULLMAN – Today the Washington State Cougars will hold the first of 23 practices before they open their season in Martin Stadium against Portland State on Sept. 5.

With less than a month before the season begins, each practice will be critical as the team tries to rebound from a 3-9 record last year. The first 12 practices will be open to the public, who are invited to come watch as players fight for playing time and coaches rush to prepare their team for another year of Cougar football.

Five players that could emerge in 2015

1. Isaac Dotson, S – Injuries have limited Dotson since the spring of 2014. If he’s finally healthy, he immediately adds a bruising presence to WSU’s secondary.

2. Hercules Mata’afa, DT – He was one of the most disruptive players in WSU practices while redshirting as a freshman last season. Now that he’s available to play, the coaches can’t wait to unleash Mata’afa on Pac-12 quarterbacks.

3. Calvin Green, WR – The coaches decided last year that Green’s speed, work ethic and route-running ability meant he was ready to play as a freshman. He made 13 catches and although he seemed hesitant at times, having a full season under his belt should allow Green to break out in 2015.

4. Marcellus Pippins, CB – He was the third true-freshman cornerback to receive a start last season, but Pippins shined once he got his chance. He continued to impress in spring practices and is a good bet to start this season.

5. Keith Harrington, RB – Harrington began his career at WSU as a receiver but spent some time last season at running back to help with depth during practices. Running backs coach Jim Mastro liked the speedster so much, he wouldn’t let him go and now Harrington is expected to be a productive member of WSU’s backfield stable.

3 Cougs with something to prove

1. Gabe Marks – He was WSU’s best receiver in 2013 but redshirted last season. The Cougars need him to return to form. He’ll be WSU’s best player if he does.

2. Luke Falk – Falk had one of the best starting debuts of any quarterback, anywhere, guiding the Cougars to a win at Oregon State and winning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week. His next two starts didn’t go so well and, after a spring challenge from Peyton Bender, Falk still needs to prove he’s the man to propel the Cougars to a bowl game.

3. Taylor Taliulu – Taliulu has made starts in all three years he has been at WSU, but has never been able to hold on to the starting position. With more competition at safety than in any year since his arrival, Taliulu will have to have a stellar season to win the job.

WSU public practice schedule

At Lewiston
Today, 2:30 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 9, 2:30 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 10, 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2:30 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 13, 2:30 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 14, 2:30 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 15, 2:30 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 16, 2:30 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 17, no practice
At Pullman
Tuesday, Aug. 18, 3:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 19, 3:30 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 20, 2:30 p.m.