Doba weighing the option

Mike Graise

A FORMER PAC-10 coach recently told CF.C the mere threat of the option, regardless of whether a team runs it frequently or not, is problematic. It requires the opponent to devote an inordinate amount of preparation towards it and although odds are the team won't run it that much, you also can't take the chance.

Bill Doba addressed this very topic and others Tuesday afternoon, including the injury report, new charter and some youngsters who are getting playing time sooner rather than later.

Doba said the "pistol" offense, where the quarterback lines up closer than in the standard shotgun, allows Nevada to run a variety of sets, likening it to what Urban Meyer did at Utah.

"What they're doing, I think anyway, is kind of the new rage," said Doba. "You can run the option with it...I think the advantage is your quarterback is off the line and its easier to protect him."

Doba also said preparing for an offense like Nevada's is time consuming because you have to defend the pass, option, run, plus offensive sets from the past, such as Nebraska's old belly option with a pulling guard.

"Its a unique offense, and I think a lot of old things (are) thrown in," said Doba. "I think the biggest problem that we have as defensive coaches, in yesterday's practice, 15 minutes of it was devoted to the option. And when I looked at (film) they ran it three times in the whole game. So what its doing is taking away your preparation time for their passing game, the run game and you're worried about the option -- something they use very little.

"I think we have to be careful and not overemphasize the option, but yet you have to be prepared to stop it."

The film Doba was referring to was Utah vs. Arizona. The Cougs and Wolfpack didn't exchange game film since Nevada hasn't yet played this season. Coach Ault said in his press conference yesterday he asked Idaho for the game film on WSU but the Vandals declined, which was a pleasant surprise to Doba.

THE COUGS ARE relatively healthy as they prepare for Friday's game. Jerome Harrison has a slight wrist sprain, but is expected to start.

Husain Abdullah (high ankle sprain) is still limping a bit when he tries to cut and will not start, with DeWayne Patterson getting the nod for the second straight week. Doba seems to be leaning towards resting Abdullah so the injury doesn't become chronic, although the Pomona, Calif., sophomore has let Doba know he wants to play if he's able.

Cody Boyd (bone cysts, ankle) is out this week, but appears to be ahead of schedule and could return for Grambling State. Jacob McKinney (knee) could also return for Grambling. Kevin McCall (leg) is out for Nevada as expected. The No. 2 running back's timetable for return looks to be Oregon State -- the Cougs have a bye before opening the Pac-10 slate against the Beavers.

DeMaundray Woolridge steps in for McCall again while Dwight Tardy will also travel with the team. Doba said Jed Collins and Brandon Asuega-Stark could also fill in at tailback in an emergency.

THIS YEAR, Washington State will fly in and out of Pullman rather than busing to Spokane or Lewiston to catch their charter. The 130-passenger plane won't allow for as many boosters as in the past but the direct flight will shave hours off the travel time, allowing extended preparation time in Pullman.

"Oh it's a huge difference," said Doba of the 130-seat Frontier Airlines charter jet. "We figure it cuts almost three hours off our trips."

THE TALENT IN the '05 class was evident in the season opener, with nine freshmen and three transfers taking the field against Idaho -- the most first year Cougars ever to see action in a season opener in Doba's 17 years at WSU. Lance Broadus, Dewayne Patterson and Lorenzo Bursey were the JC transfers, while true freshmen Fevaea'i Ahmu, Cory Evans, Brandon Gibson, Jason Stripling, Greg Trent, Benny Ward, Courtney Williams, Michael Willis and Woolridge all took the field against the Vandals.

Doba said Broadus could develop into the speed rusher the Cougs covet as the season progresses, as could Mike Graise.

"He just needs to get a little bit heavier," Doba said of Broadus. "We could take a long yardage situation, take Braidwood out and let him rush the passer...And Michael Graise has a good get off (the line). Both those kids are young and kind of light, but I think both those kids are going to be real productive for us."

Williams, now in as a gunner for the Cougs along with Don Turner on the punt coverage team -- and also on both kickoff units -- came in for heavy praise from Doba, and also offensive coordinator and WRs coach Mike Levenseller, who coaches the gunners.

"We're real, real pleased with his play on special teams," said Doba. "Coach Levenseller said, 'Gosh, he's got great pad level and his first three steps are quick, he's real explosive...' and I said 'Don't even think about it, him being a receiver.' Levy was ready to try and convert him (to a WR) already. He's adapting very, very quickly for a kid with the limited amount of experience that he has."

NOTES
Doba said he did not anticipate any changes in the starting lineup.

Doba said he thinks the team probably needs to be "even simpler" offensively than they were at Idaho.

Williams, Will Derting and Harrison were WSU's nominees for Pac-10 players of the week.

Doba said areas for improvement this week are cutting way down on dropped passes, more consistency in run blocking from the offensive line, better timing on the kickoff return team to allow the explosive Bursey some room to roam and better special teams play in general, what with the abundance of first year Cougs that make up those units. Finally, Doba wants to see the defense play the run better and tighten up the secondary a bit more than was the case against Idaho.

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