PULLMAN – As fall camp unfolded, and Washington State worked through long mornings at Rogers Practice Field to prepare for one of the more unique seasons in school history, the Cougars’ defenders kept insisting on one thing.
Watch out for Isaac Terrell.
At first, it registered as a bit of a surprise. Terrell is a true freshman. He plays edge rusher, and ahead of him are Brennan Jackson and Ron Stone Jr., two cornerstones who had their jobs locked down. He wasn’t projected to usurp other edges like Quinn Roff and Ra’am Stevenson. What would have to happen for Terrell to see the field?
Over the past few days, that became clear. During No. 23 WSU’s win over Wisconsin last weekend, Roff exited early with an arm injury that head coach Jake Dickert said will keep him out “for a while.” Earlier in fall camp, fellow edge Lawrence Falatea tore his ACL, shelving him for the season.
So when Jackson and Stone come off the field Saturday, when Washington State hosts Northern Colorado in the Cougars’ nonconference finale, expect to see Terrell – plus other reserves at the position.
“I don’t know if I need to challenge these guys,” WSU edges coach Frank Maile said. “They’re pretty competitive. They understand the task at hand, and when one guy goes down, they understand that their job is to make up for whatever needs to be done. So those guys have done a great job being ready for their turn.”
That has arrived for the Cougars’ backup edges. Outside of Jackson and Stone, WSU’s rotation of edges Saturday will include Terrell, Stevenson and Andrew Edson, a junior who appeared in all 13 games last season. This year, he has totaled three tackles in two games.
It offers a chance for Washington State to test its depth at the position. The Cougars know what they have in Stone and Jackson, the guys who teamed up for the strip-sack and fumble that swung last weekend’s game against Wisconsin, but what about the other guys? What can they show against Northern Colorado, an FCS opponent the Cougars are expected to handle?
Dickert, who doesn’t just want to see his guys make plays, expects it to be a test. He wants to solidify a pecking order at the edge position, particularly for when Pac-12 play begins on Sept. 23.
“We’re gonna let him roll,” Dickert said of Terrell. “See where he can be, see where he can compete with those other two guys. The best one of those guys will be that third guy. So it’ll be a fun week to get a chance to see Bobby (Terrell) out there.”
That will be the first appearance of the season for Terrell, a Utah native who coaches and players raved about during fall camp.
“I mean, it’s incredible, the way he plays the motor that he revs with,” Dickert said on Aug. 2, the second day of fall camp.
“You watch the way that kid plays, and the physicality and the work ethic and running to the ball,” defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding said Aug. 4. “That’s not normal for a guy that just showed up.”
Competing with Terrell for playing time Saturday are Edson and Stevenson, the latter a redshirt sophomore who made one solo tackle against Wisconsin. He’s been backing up Jackson, and Edson’s doing the same for Stone.
As a whole, the veterans have worked to pass on their knowledge to the guys behind them.
“I think it’s the preparation portion of the deal,” Maile said. “These guys are elite at their preparation, just the knowledge of the game. Since they were young, I think they had good mentors. So they understand that’s their role now, right? If they’re going to lead these guys, they’ve gotta set the example, and they’ve done a great job doing that.”
Lockett piles up tackles through two gamesIf it’s possible to lead the team in total tackles while also flying under the radar, WSU safety Sam Lockett III has found a way.
In the Cougars’ two wins this season, Lockett has totaled 18 tackles, tied for tops on the team with linebacker Devin Richardson. Lockett made 13 in Washington State’s win over Wisconsin , recording one quarterback hurry and eight solo tackles.
That he’s playing is a bonus for the Cougars. On Aug. 8, Dickert said Lockett had broken his hand in an off-the-field injury. A few days later, though, Lockett returned to practice with the hand in a cast – and he’s back to being a staple in WSU’s secondary.
Other WSU injury updatesDefensive tackle Rashad Mackenzie, who missed all of fall camp and the first two games of the season with an upper-body injury, will return for Saturday’s game, Dickert said. That will boost WSU’s depth on the interior of the defensive line, where linemen David Gusta and Nusi Malani will get a bit of relief.
Defensive back Tanner Moku, out with a leg injury, got his walking boot off on Wednesday, Dickert said. He’ll be questionable for Saturday’s game, but he’s Dickert’s hoping Moku can return in time for WSU’s home game against No. 16 Oregon State on Saturday.
With other injuries, the Cougars are “working through some things” with offensive lineman Esa Pole and cornerback Javan Robinson. If Pole can’t play Saturday, redshirt freshman Zack Miller will likely take his spot at left tackle. If Robinson can’t, redshirt sophomore Jamorri Colson is expected to get his snaps.