Cougars go full-tilt and physical

ARTHUR BURNS

PULLMAN – Maybe it's something not so easily turned off, not after the last few weeks and the Oregon game. Paul Wulff thought he might scale back all the hard hitting this week, with a few more players experiencing injuries, bumps and bruises. Well, that sure wasn't the case on Tuesday. Bodies were flyin' and collidin' all over the gridiron.

The Cougs resumed their customary schedule with a full contact session Tuesday but to say the pads were cracking would be an understatement.

It's become a WSU practice staple of late, with more extensive live hitting throughout the week, and the Oregon game seems to have served not only as the hard hittin' coming out party, but continuing catalyst as well.

There were plenty of injured Cougs sitting out Tuesday's practice but that didn't seem to lessen at all the type and scale of the collisions.

SOME OF THE hardest hits came when the first team defense was lined up against the scout team offense. RB Leon Brooks took a flurry of shots from the stop corps.

Weakside LB Alex Hoffman-Ellis, who is dealing with a variety of bumps and bruises, looks to be taking a similar practice pattern as last week – he was a spectator for the second consecutive day on Tuesday, as was MLB Mike Ledgerwood (neck).

Sekope Kaufusi again stepped in with the 1's at WIL but saw his day cut short, more on that in a moment. C.J. Mizell took the lead at MLB and Myron Beck was the starter at the SAM spot, but redshirt freshman Arthur Burns continued to see plenty of action in relief of Beck.

On Burns first play running with the 1's, he read, reacted and got into position quickly to stop Brooks behind the line for a loss.

Early on, the first team offense came on the field and went matched up against the second team defense. Kaufusi moved over to the MLB spot but then saw his practice day end. RB Marcus Richmond bullied his way through the hole and a sea of crimson and white jerseys collided. Kaufusi was in but suffered a bruised leg and did not return to practice. The injury didn't appear serious, but Kaufusi was standing on the sidelines with an ice wrap.

MEANWHILE, SOME GOOD injury news, as WSU got back some players who missed Monday -- including CB Nolan Washington (hip) and WR Marquess Wilson (shoulder). Washington was running with the 1's and split time with freshman Damante Horton.

Safety Chima Nwachukwu (neck) did not practice, and was in street clothes.

SATURDAY WILL BE the Cougars' second straight week against a ranked opponent when they face No. 17 Arizona.

"That's just how it is in the Pac-10," Kevin Kooyman said. "Everyone's tough, everyone has great teams…it's something we're going to have to deal with."

Arizona QB Nick Foles is considered one of the top quarterbacks in the conference and the Arizona passing game presents come unique challenges.

"Their passing is ridiculous -- Nick Foles has a 74 or 75 percent completion percentage," said Kooyman (74.9 to be precise.) He's a big dude, he's almost as big as me and he's got a quick release. And their offensive line averages (about) 330 (pounds) so they're big guys across the board. It will be tough, but were excited for it."

OFFENSIVELY, RIGHT TACKLE Micah Hannam (concussion) missed practice for the second straight day. Freshman John Fullington, who has been sharing time with Hannam, ran with the 1's Tuesday. RB Chantz Staden was in street clothes Tuesday after bruising his rib cage in Saturday's game. With Staden out, Logwone Mitz and James Montgomery split time, and Mitz saw a good chunk of the action with the 1's.

"I'm just getting mentally prepared," said Mitz, who had a season high 15 carries for 55 yards against Oregon. "If you're pouting and getting down about not getting in, then when you get your number called you're going to mess up…I'm ready to go whether I start or come on in the fourth quarter."

NOTABLE NOTE:
Saturday is Dad's Day in Pullman, something Kooyman said he's keenly aware of.. "My dad's been there for me since the beginning, coaching me since I was a little kid. It does provide that much more incentive to win for my dad and for all the dads out there that are coming out."

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