Chima tackles the corner, Brink looks on

CHIMA NWACHUKWU

PULLMAN — Safety Chima Nwachukwu went back to his roots on Tuesday. With CB Daniel Simmons' shoulder injury, the Cougs are taking a long look at the guy who has started 21 games at corner over his Washington State career.

Going at full contact for the second straight day, the Cougs continued their hard hitting ways as they gear up for the Beavers this Saturday. Although the big hits were taken down a notch from yesterday, the speed and tempo were there, and the urgency seems apparent.

"It's been two really good days of practice," Wulff said. "They've come out executed well and done a great job."

The all-star of practice, without a doubt, was senior Chima Nwachukwu who made plenty of big time plays with the 1's.

Nwachukwu lost his starting position at safety with the emergence of freshman Deone Bucannon, but has continued to work hard throughout practices to improve his game.

On Wednesday Nwachukwu saw plenty of action with the first team defense at CB, the position he started out his college career -- he has started games at corner his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons -- and had two big pass deflections of QB Jeff Tuel.

On the first, Tuel tried to go deep but Nwachukwu came from out of nowhere to tip the ball away. Safety Tyree Toomer was in perfect position for the deflection, and hauled down the interception for the defense.

Then a few plays later, Tuel tried to go down the sidelines. Same result, as Nwachukwu flew into the air and batted down the pass.

With Starting CB Daniel Simmons out with a shoulder injury this week, CB Aire Justin is expected to start for the second consecutive week. However Nwachukwu could see plenty of action.

"Well you know he's finally healthy, number one," Wulff said. "With Daniel out, we're going to need somebody and he's going to have play in there. I was really happy to see that."

The defense as a whole looked sharp against the first team offense, but had some troubles early on against the scout team. There were a few instances where WR Blair Bomber was able to burst his way through the hole for big runs and found the end-zone on a couple of plays.

Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers is one of the best RB's in all of the Pac-10 as the Cougar defense certainly knows – he has moves galore and is never down until he's down. Wulff said it's on the front four and middle-men to prevent Rodgers from going off.

And as has been the case all season, sure tackling must be on point or it will be a long day for the Cougs.

"There's always some issues and we have to get better up front and in our linebacking area as well," Wulff said. "He's going to make his plays. We have to tackle well. Period."

After practice Wednesday, Wulff was asked about the conditions in Pullman come Apple Cup. With the game on Dec. 4, and a 4 p.m. start for TV, it sounds like a recipe for a little snow, no?

"I think there's been success when that's happened..It's a rarity and it just seems when (there's snow), it always seems to be a great day for Cougar Football in this rivalry."

But the Cougar offense has depended on it's aerial attack throughout the season, and falling snow, Drew Bledsoe's third quarter in the 1992 Snow Bowl excluded, generally means bad things for passers. Not worried about it, said Wulff, bring it on.

"I mean, it could (adversely affect the passing game) there's no question -- it's going to cause issues regardless of what you do out there in a situation like that -- but no…as long as our guys go out and play, hopefully we can use it to our advantage someway, somehow."

NOTABLE NOTE:
Alex Brink was on hand to witness Wednesday session. The quarterback was in a sling after suffering a broken collar bone in the Canadian Football League. Brink plays for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

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