UPDATED: Doba shakes up practice routine

FEVEAEA'I AHMU

THE COUGS ARE TIRED and beat up, mentally and physically here in Week 12 of a bye-less season, said Bill Doba Tuesday. And so the coaches will do something they haven't done all year, take off the pads for the entire practice week. Doba said you'd probably have to tear Scott Davis' heart out to keep him off the field, all the injury news plus a potentially great linebacker waiting in the wings.

Washington State and Washington are the only teams in the Pac-10 conference not to have a bye week this season, the reason being in order to hold the Apple Cup before Thanksgiving.

The downside with no break is that fatigue and injury can set in and even build upon themselves. The toll it's taken on the Cougars has been apparent, said Doba.

"With 12 straight games are kids are tired and beat up, and I'm sure the Huskies are the same way, so we're going to take the pads off all week, try to get healthy and be fresh," said Doba. "It hasn't worked the last two weeks so we're going to give them something different. I think mentally, we're tired, too, and we need something to kind of spark us. And injuries kind of caught up to last week, too -- and it looked like (from film) Arizona State played well."

Doba hadn't gotten the final report from the Medical Staff today but said from what he did now, they would cast up linebacker Scott Davis' fractured wrist and he would play this Saturday.

"You'd have to tear his heart out not to have him play," said Doba.

The Cougs may have a full complement of defensive tackles for virtually the first time this season, allowing them the flexibility to play more of their base front. The Cougs were most effective in the 3-4 when they used it by choice, whereas injuries have forced them to play it all the time.

Ropati Pitoitua will try and practice this week, with the defensive tackle's availability a game time decision, said Doba. Fellow starting DT Fevaea'i will try to play and Aaron Johnson will also give it a shot.

"We'd be full strength at d-tackle and we can get back to our 4-3 a little bit," said Doba. "Not that I'm giving away any secrets, anybody can figure that out."

Doba said the plan for receivers Jason Hill and Michael Bumpus (high ankle sprains) will be to jog Tuesday, run on Wednesday and then try and cut on Thursday. Both star wideouts are expected to be game time decisions.

MEANWHILE, RUNNING BACKS Derrell Hutsona and DeMaundray Woolridge's pinched nerve in his shoulder means he is likely a Thursday decision, though Doba said he had more strength in it today than yesterday. Chris Jordan did not tear his ACL but "just kind of stretched it", said Doba, with the senior wide receiver probably doubtful for Saturday.

Chris Ivory 's move to linebacker from running back could be a permanent one in the estimation of Doba, an old linebackers' coach who sounded more than just a little excited in discussing the Texan's potential as a Pac-10 linebacker.

"I don't know how well his ankle is (for Saturday) but I'll tell you what -- the little I've seen of him at linebacker, he can be a great linebacker," said Doba. "He's got a great burst and he moves really well."

DOBA SAID at this point of this season, not having any contact practices shouldn't make much of a difference in the outcome, citing Hal Mumme's Kentucky teams that went without pads virtually the entire year. While Doba said he wouldn't go that far, he said he felt it more important in this situation to get the players fresh and to correct some things that came up probably as a result, the past two weeks.

"In lieu of base fundamentals, it's probably more important that they feel good and feel fresh this late in the season and we can get a lot done (without pads)," said Doba. "I think our biggest mistakes last week were mental errors and assignment errors... so in lieu of fundamentals I think I would rather make sure they were assignment perfect."

HAVING THE GAME in Pullman this year is something Doba said will hopefully work to the Cougs' advantage as Washington State goes for three straight over their cross-state rivals.

"To have our crowd when they're yelling like crazy when they're on offense and quiet when we're on offense, I think that's always a help," said Doba.

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