PULLMAN -- Cougar Nation! I know Mike Graise has been keeping you up to date on the defense and the progress we've been making throughout coach Rob Oviatt’s summer conditioning. I'm here to add what I’ve seen the last six weeks in Pullman, and from an offensive perspective. This summer, especially, I’ve noticed an attitude change in our team as a whole -- my teammates are simply hungry to win.
After every morning workout, we take another step towards a great initial challenge -- the Wisconsin Badgers.
It's a task each and every one of us are looking forward to, and with senior leaders on the offensive side of the ball -- guys like Alex Brink, Michael Bumpus, Bobby Byrd, Charles Dillon and Jed Collins -- I feel we are very capable of having an excellent season.
Each one of those men, in preparation for the upcoming season, stayed in Pullman during our four week summer vacation in May. They have invested over four years of blood, sweat, and tears into Cougar football, and I feel it is only fair to send them off as victors. I am proud to say that I go into battle beside them on Saturdays.
As many Cougar fans know, the offense got pretty scrappy during spring ball because of injuries, but it also allowed many of the younger guys to step up and create depth for the upcoming season. My high school coach used to preach you are only "a sprained ankle away from being a starter.” And because of that, each Cougar player must be prepared to play at anytime.
Time to talk about the big boys down in the trenches.
While across the roster you don’t see many 315-pound plus type of players like we've had here at WSU in the past, we make up the weight difference with our athleticism. Coach George Yarno is simply the best at what he does -- he doesn’t teach us by individual position, he teaches the line how to work together as a whole.
Each one of our guys has the capability of playing four or five positions in any game. Last year, for instance, Kenny Alfred and myself saw time at three different spots, but we were able to make the necessary changes without missing a beat because of the knowledge of the game instilled in us through and through by coach Yarno.
It’s exciting to watch the younger guys mature throughout the year. Cougs like Micah Hannam, Vaughn Lesuma, Jake McKinney, Grady Maxwell, Joe Eppele and Scott Friberg have already made huge strides learning the offense -- and once it “clicks” in their minds, it's great to see how quickly everything slows down and becomes easier to understand. I know each one of these guys will be ready when their name is called.
I also wanted to make special mention about the leader on the line, Bobby Byrd.
A four-year starter, he moved back inside to left guard for spring ball and looked very impressive doing it. You can tell Bob’s taken this summer to heart. He’s worked his tail off, added quickness and dropped some weight off his 6-foot-7 frame -- and take it from me, he’s going to be a force to deal with this year. He fits to a tee our focus for this season: “One play at a time, One series at a time, One game at a time.”
And not to forget about who is playing next to him at center -- a returning freshman All-American in Kenny Alfred, (Scout.com Freshman AA second team and '07 Rimington Trophy Watch List member), and he's added 10 pounds to his frame and has probably one of the best upsides of any player on the team.
We have the weekend off, and with this heat wave blistering Pullman the last few days, I’m sure many of us will be getting together, catching some sun and then gearing up for the final push before fall camp.
Feel free to post any questions you might have here on the Cougfan.com message boards and I'll answer as many as I can next week. Until then, as always, GO COUGS!!!
Dan Rowlands finished the '07 spring session as WSU's starting right tackle. A versatile lineman who started at both right and left guard last year, the 6-5, 290-pounder will be a fourth-year-junior in 2007. He hails from Seal Beach, Calif., where his senior year he was the top o-lineman for Los Alamitos High, a perennial powerhouse in California’s Southern Section. After a redshirt season at WSU in '04, he's played in 22 games the past two years, starting 9 last season. Against UCLA in 2006, he was helped off the field twice with injuries only to return to the line each time, and he started the following week. He graciously volunteered this summer to give CF.C readers an inside look at the world of pre-season football preparations with a weekly diary.