PULLMAN -- Freshman running back DeMaundray Woolridge took some of the sting out of the injury to sophomore Kevin McCall by running up a storm as the new No. 2 back in Friday's scrimmage. In addition, Josh Swogger had his best day of camp, while Jason Hill looked sharp. Meanwhile, the defense picked off three passes, four different Cougs logged sacks and Michael Bumpus was on the throwing end of a score for a change. But coach Bill Doba said work remains.
Trainers said McCall, carted off the field after a sweep play Thursday evening, will miss 2-to-4 weeks with a lower leg injury. That news was tempered, though, by the play of Woolridge in the team’s Friday scrimmage.
The 5-foot-8, 220-pound Woolridge isn't just using his power. On his way to picking up 70 rushing yards on 21 carries and scoring two TDs, he displayed some of his 4.3 speed. Because of the talent at wide receiver at Keller High, the most carries Woolridge said he ever had in a game was eight.
“I was surprised to get into the open field,” Woolridge said of his performance on Friday. “I guess I sort of mentally doubted myself a little bit, but now I’ve kind of gained a little confidence.”
One of his runs was a 25-yard sideline-hugging sweep to paydirt.
McCall is a virtual lock to miss the opener against Idaho Sept. 1, and the Cougars could end up playing Woolridge extensively, as Jerome Harrison's understudy, if all goes according to plan against the Vandals.
“I like (Woolridge), he’s a load going up through there,” head coach Bill Doba said. “He’s 220 pounds … and he turns up field, he’s hard to tackle.”
It took a few nice runs to steal the spotlight from Swogger and his bounce back performance.
After a poor showing in scrimmage No. 1, Josh Swogger has performed better in back-to-back scrimmages.
Friday he completed 11 of 18 passes -– seven of nine to start the day – for 164 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions, no sacks.
“I think so, by far,” Swogger answered when asked if Friday was his best performance. “The main thing is getting better everyday.”
Swogger has been in a heated battle with Alex Brink for the starting quarterback gig. Brink, thus far, has probably outplayed No. 9 by a very narrow margin. Friday, Brink was good on 8 of 20 passes and tossed an interception to along with a touchdown pass to Hill.
“We’d like to pick one of them pretty soon and get them out of their misery,” Doba said jokingly. “About the time I think one of them is gonna do it, the other one does well.”
Jason Hill was on the receiving end of the one of the better plays of the day, catching a 13 yard, one-handed touchdown pass from Brink despite good coverage from Wally Dada. He also was on the receiving end of a Swogger bomb the quarterback delivered after bouncing around in the huddle, successfully avoiding the pass rush. The play went for 52 yards.
On the day, Hill caught a team high six passes for a team high 99 yards receiving.
Doba wasn't especially pleased with the scrimmage. “(These are) the dog days,” he said. “We had a great practice last night, it was very spirited. Today we were just sluggish coming out of the huddle. It was not a winning effort.”
Michael Bumpus tossed a 58-yard touchdown pass to Jed Collins in addition to recording five catches for 39 yards. The long pass was one of the first few plays of the scrimmage.
Alex Teems, Don Turner and Eric Frampton each had an interception, with two of them coming off Gary Rogers. The redshirt freshman had a rough evening, going 1-for-9 on the day.
Four different defensemen logged sacks in the scrimmage -- Husain Abdullah, Scott Davis, Aaron Johnson and Bryan Olson.
Doba said after the scrimmage that Jerome Harrison has slightly bruised ribs. He also said McCall had firmly entrenched himself as the No. 2 running back behind Harrison after having a good camp.
Finally, Doba said Will Derting is about 80 percent healthy right now and added that the kicking battle between Graham Siderius and Loren Langley is still up in the air. He said the two have kicked well and the focus will be on consistency over the next two weeks.