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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

WSU notebook: Mackenzie out for the year with leg injury, Tatum leaves team

Washington State defensive backs Dominic Tatum, right, and King Williams run through drills during fall camp Aug. 9 at Gesa Field in Pullman.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – Rashad Mackenzie can’t seem to catch a break.

Washington State’s redshirt freshman defensive tackle will miss the rest of the season with a leg injury, head coach Jake Dickert said on Wednesday morning. Mackenzie initially suffered an injury to the opposite leg during spring ball, and that kept him out until WSU’s game against Northern Colorado on Saturday, when Mackenzie made his season debut.

Mackenzie suffered this injury during the game. Trainers helped him off the field. Now Mackenzie will get surgery on the leg “early on,” Dickert said.

“Just a very tough one,” Dickert said. “I feel for the kid. … To have this back-to-back in your first game back, have it be not even a roll-up situation. … My heart goes out to him. He’s had a great attitude about it.”

The 6-foot-6 Mackenzie, who redshirted last season, didn’t record any stats before leaving with the injury. He hails from Mission Hills, California, where he earned a three-star rating at Bishop Alemany High.

In his absence, the Cougars will rely on their starters at defensive tackle, Nusi Malani and David Gusta, plus backups such as Na’im Rodman, Ansel Din-Mbuh and Jernias Tafia.

Tatum decides to leave teamWSU’s safety depth has also taken a hit. Senior Dominic Tatum has left the team, Dickert said, explaining the decision was Tatum’s.

“Dom made a decision that he wasn’t gonna be on the team,” Dickert said, “and we’re just gonna leave it at that.”

Tatum, a fifth-year senior who transferred from Utah State ahead of this season, played in each of the Cougars’ first two games .

He totaled nine snaps, per Pro Football Focus. He did not record any statistics.

Pole, Robinson back to full participationWSU offensive lineman Esa Pole and cornerback Javan Robinson, both of whom sat out with injuries during the Cougars’ win over Northern Colorado last weekend, practiced in full on Wednesday, Dickert said.

On Monday, Dickert said Pole and Robinson are recovering well and should play on Saturday, when No. 21 Washington State hosts No. 14 Oregon State to open Pac-12 play.

At this point in the week, Dickert said, the two are working to regain their footing before they take the field for Saturday’s game. Pole, who started each of WSU’s first two games at left tackle, will be able to slide back into that position, giving the Cougars their preferred starting offensive line: left tackle Pole, left guard Christian Hilborn, center Konner Gomness, right guard Ma’ake Fifita and right tackle Fa’alili Fa’amoe.

Robinson will restore WSU’s depth at cornerback, which includes starters Chau Smith-Wade and Cam Lampkin.

“I thought both looked really, really good,” Dickert said. “Javan, it’s just a confidence thing, getting him over that hump, and I felt like he got there today. Esa, it was good. I mean, even at the end of practice, he’s like, ‘I wanna do the good-on-good.’ That’s the stuff you love as a coach, and that’s him as a competitor.”