Aug. 21, 1999
PULLMAN, Wash. - During the final full-contact scrimmage of the fall camp, the Cougars showed positive signs in all facets of the game.
The offensive line appears to be vastly improved, although they are still missing Reed and Ryan Raymond. All three of the running backs were able to spring a run of 10-plus yards with the aide of the offensive line. The line also gave the quarterbacks more time in the pocket, allowed them to showcase their talents.
Of the three in the running, Jason Gesser and Paul Mencke appeared to have slightly pulled away from Steve Birnbaum. Gesser completed 5-of-10 passes for 44 yards, twice leading the offense to field goals. Mencke was 2-for-5 with 65 yards passing. Sixty of his yards came on a screen pass to Deon Burnett, who took the ball to the end zone. Birnbaum completed 4-of-9 passes for only 17 yards.
"I don't think it is any different than it had been," Price said regarding the quarterback situation. "I think that they are all a lot better."
At running back, Burnett most likely fought off a redshirt season with another impressive day. He led the team in rushing for the third consecutive scrimmage with 41 yards on 10 carries. He also caught three passes for 60 yards. He is also one of only two running backs to participate in all 19 practices.
"Deon will be in the rotation at running back," Price said. "He's had a great camp."
The first-team defense continues to make life miserable for the offense. The No. 1 defense sacked the quarterback six times, with the defense collecting eight on the day.
"This is the first time since 1994, that our first team defense has completely shut out the offense in two-a-days," Price said. "If you recall, in 1994 we led the nation in defense. I'm not saying we're that good, but it's a good start."
Another strong point for the defense has been the play of its secondary. Safeties Lamont Thompson, Earl Riley are teaming up with LeJuan Gibbons and Chris Martin to form one of the Pac-10's most experienced groups.
"We have four real good safeties," Price said. "(Backup safeties) Billy Newman and Torry Hollimon have had as good of a camp as anybody and Gibbons and Martin have held up real well at the corner position. We have six guys that can play back there in the Pac-10. We're still looking for a little more depth at that cornerback position.
Walking wounded - New additions to the list of injuries include defensive lineman Ing Aleaga (hamstring), wide receiver Milton Wynn (hamstring), cornerback Virgil Williams and linebacker Serign Marong (hamstring). Jeremy Thielbahr, Alex Tinsley and Brad Philley were all held out of the scrimmage. Monday is the expected target date for Wynn and the running backs to return to action.
Scoring summary - FG Lindell 25, FG Lindell 25, Burnett 60 pass from Mencke, FG Lindell 42. ***Note*** Burnett also scored on a two-yard run during a goal-line sequence.
Rushing - Burnett 10/41, Hawkins 11/38, Arzu 9/33, Nesen 2/7, Mencke 1/3, Birnbaum 1/(-7), Kegel 1/(-9), Gesser 4/(-21).
Passing - Mencke 5/2/0/65/1/60, Nesen 8/6/1/55/0/25, Gesser 10/5/0/55/0/13, Kegel 9/5/0/40/0/17, Birnbaum 9/4/0/17/0/10.
Receiving - Burnett 3/60, Sheridan 3/47, Zubedi 3/29, C. Henderson 2/23, Douglas 1/15, Moen 2/13, Taylor 2/10. Torian 2/10, Lunde 1/8, Hackett 1/5, P. Henderson 1/3, J. Shavies 1/3.