FALL CAMP DAY 10: Valuable experience

DARREN MARKLE

PULLMAN -- The Cougars took the field at Martin Stadium Wednesday and Paul Wulff spent the majority of the practice focusing on scrimmage and game type simulations. The WSU coaching staff has been shuffling in and out a good number of guys -- quite a few -- to run series with the 1's thus far in fall camp. Among those getting valuable learning reps today was a linebacking true frosh.

For example, take the linebacker position.

True freshman Darren Markle was running series with the ones at middle linebacker today in place of the projected starter on the depth chart, Alex Hoffman-Ellis.

Jason Stripling has, over the whole of fall camp, received the majority of snaps with the starting unit at WIL and has been performing well.

While '08 starting weakside 'backer Louis Bland has been returning to form off a spring knee injury and getting in contact work since this past weekend, he's also played on the outside for the most part since Andy Mattingly was sidelined a few days ago.

Hoffman-Ellis has been pretty much manning the middle until today, while Mattingly is the projected starter at SAM -- the Spokane native has been out resting a groin injury that is not thought to be serious.

MLB Mike Ledgerwood has also got some first team series and not just on the inside, but on the outside as well. Others, like Sekope Kaufusi and Andre Barrington, have also made their presence felt.

So what does it all mean?

The Cougar coaches haven't officially named starters yet, competition is pitched and ongoing across the board, there are a few dings here and there to some of the projected starters -- and a good-sized number of Cougs, veteran and youthful, are getting valuable turns while running series with the 1's.

Also of note, G Brian Danaher got meaningful snaps for the first time this fall camp. He got in turns on Wednesday, at center, with the second team.

THIS WAS THE second consecutive practice at Martin Stadium, with Wulff wanting to get the Cougs used to the environment for regular season action.

"I think we need to spend some more time at Martin Stadium and get used to the confines and get comfortable with our own game field," said Wulff.

The past few days had been marked by an extremely high intensity showcased by the players. However, today's practice, Wulff explained, was inconsistent in that regard.

"I thought they did some good things early, but we kind of fizzled," said Wulff. "Our intensity level dropped and so a lot of things weren't real crisp in what we were doing on both sides of the ball."

WHILE IN WITH the first team offense, Marshall Lobbestael looked sharp with his execution and had good chemistry with wideout Jared Karstetter.

One play in particular showcased it -- Lobbestael got out of the pocket and threw across his body to hit Karstetter, who made a great catch for a 25 yard gain.

Coming off the ACL injury last season, some practice observers had thought Lobbestael, with respect to the knee, had played cautiously early on in camp. But the Oak Harbor native said on Wednesday that a) he feels great and b) that the injury hasn't hindered his development this fall.

"It feels good, it feels good to be doing all the drills. In the spring I couldn't do any of the team stuff so it feels really good to be out there with the other 10 guys," said Lobbestael.

ONE OBSTACLE ON offense, in trying to get the timing down, has been is having a large portion of the receiving corps absent.

On Wednesday, four receivers did not participate in drills, including Jeshua Anderson and Daniel Blackledge who were back on the sidelines and stepping gingerly to join the team at the end of practice.

"They're both probably a good week out still," said Wulff.

Anderson became a fan favorite his true freshman season in '07 due to his lightning quick speed and big-play ability -- and Wulff is optimistic that he will have Anderson in uniform come kick-off against Stanford.

"You know, his was a pretty good pull so we're still hopeful he can get back and be healthy by our first game," said Wulff.

THE CRIMSON STOP CORPS won the scoreboard battle today.

During the final 11-on-11 scrimmage drill, the highlight on offense was when RB Dwight Tardy scampered in for a 10 yard touchdown run, the Cougars' only touchdown on the day.

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