PULLMAN — There were fewer big hits and long bombs on Tuesday, with the coaching staff focusing on position drills and fundamentals. But that didn’t stop a couple of playmakers from turning heads. Running backs coach Steve Broussard and one of those playmakers, Dwight Tardy, weighed in on the development of the unit, the focus of spring ball, and more.
Dwight Tardy, along with fellow ball-carriers Marcus Richmond and Kevin McCall turned in another nice performance Tuesday, as all three RBs looked light on their feet and sure handed with the pigskin.
McCall looked especially sharp, taking several handoffs and dump passes short up the left and right side of the field for big gainers.
Broussard, who joined the coaching staff for the first time this spring, said it is difficult to gauge any improvement this spring simply because it is his first time working with them. He did say, however, that he's been pleased with he performances.
“Its hard for me to say, just because I can only go on what I have seen, but they are doing fairly well,” Broussard said of the backs. “Marcus is a little young, still new in the system, so he’s a little green in some areas, but he’s improving. Some of the feedback I get from some of the coaches is that (all three) are improving, and doing some good things.”
Broussard said even though Tardy, Richmond and McCall have exhibited promise this spring, the Cougs have questions as to depth with Chris Ivory, DeMaundray Woolridge and Derrell Hutsona missing all or parts of the session . One of those question marks was answered in a positive fashion yesterday as Ivory, who returned home to Texas to be with his ailing mother, has registered for the summer school session at Washington State and will return to Pullman on or around May 5, parent Kenny Gilliand told Cougfan.com.
Academic issues have kept Woolridge, who is not enrolled at WSU but is in Pullman at a community college, and Hutsona off the field this spring.
“I think depth coming into (spring) was a concern, depth has always been a concern" said Broussard. "But it gives the other guys some more opportunities, a chance to see what they can do, and more snaps. So, it’s a positive I think, in that way.”
Tardy, meanwhile, was a little more optimistic that all three of his teammates would be donning the Crimson and Gray again soon.
“Ivory is probably the next great running back at Washington State,” Tardy said, following Tuesday’s session. “He’s going to be good. He’s got a lot of balance, lot of speed, he’s so strong, and he’s a big guy. He’s young, but he’s got time, and he’s going to be a great running back.”
Concerning Hutsona and Woolridge, said Tardy; “I expect them back. I think they are going to be back and I think they are going to contribute to the team, just like the rest of us.”
Despite the as-of-now loss of his RB teammates and some of the players being bit by the injury bug this spring, Tardy said there are always more positives than negatives.
"You have to love the process," he said. "If you don’t love the process, you don’t love the game.”
Wide receivers Michael Bumpus, Charles Dillon and Brandon Gibson all looked sharp for the offense on Tuesday, with several nice grabs apiece during the afternoon session.
Also showing good hands was tight end Jed Collins, who one-handed a Cole Morgan rope for a 15-yard gain early in 11-on-11 action.
Quarterback Kevin Lopina donned a helmet and participated in some unit-position drills on the afternoon, for the first time since early this spring. Lopina is recovering from a hamstring injury and did not suit up for the practice, save for the standard yellow no-contact jersey worn by the QBs.
The staff had the defense lay off the big hits Tuesday, but safety Xavier Hicks still looked sharp, nearly picking off two Gary Rogers’ passes in drills.
Broussard said running back Ian Bell, who is also suffering from a hamstring injury, is still hurting and will likely not suit up at all this spring. Bell has been present at practice however, jogging and running with the corps.
WR Keith Rosenberg also did not suit up Tuesday, as it appears he is resting a shoulder or arm injury.