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Three Quarterbacks Remain in Hunt for Opening Day Nod
Courtesy: Washington State Athletics
Release: 08/19/1999
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Aug. 19, 1999

PULLMAN, Wash. - After having a rough first scrimmage, the three potential starting quarterbacks began to show their stuff during WSU's second scrimmage Thursday.

Senior quarterback Steve Birnbaum began the three-man war by completing his first three passes of the afternoon. Junior Paul Mencke had a second consecutive solid scrimmage completing five of his seven passes, including an 18-yard strike to Milton Wynn for the offense's lone touchdown. Redshirt freshman Jason Gesser was 5-for-11 with 87 yards passing, including a 63-yard bomb to Nian Taylor.

"I think the whole (quarterback) position is getting better," said head coach Mike Price. "Until today, we've hardly thrown any interceptions in practice. We're much better than we were a year ago and I think the receivers are much better. That is going to help the quarterback position. I think we're in good hands with any three of those guys."

Price did not name a starting quarterback following the scrimmage and will most likely wait until after the third and final scrimmage.

"Probably next week," Price said about naming a starter. "As we start preparing for Utah we will (name a starter).

The defense looked sharp again, forcing the offense to commit two turnovers. The first turnover came when Billy Newman stripped running back Alvan Arzu in the backfield and Ing Aleaga pounced on the ball. The second turnover came on an overthrown pass by Mencke as safety Torry Hollimon jumped up and corralled the ball.

Defensive lineman Jeremey Williams collected two sacks to lead the defense. Steve Gleason, and Newman also added solo sacks, while Rob Meier and Tomasi Kongaika shared a sack.

With three of the top running backs sidelined with hamstring injuries, freshman Deon Burnett got a chance to show his skills. Burnett was the team's leading rushed gaining 35 yards on nine carries.

"The running back position we're trying to figure out what we are going to do there," Price said. "Deon Burnett ran the ball very well."

For the second time in a row, Chris Martin took the scrimmage's opening kickoff for a touchdown. This return went for 98 yards, while his return on Monday went for 97 yards.

Injury report - Running backs Jeremy Theilbahr, Alex Tinsley and Brad Philley were held out of the scrimmage as they nurse hamstring injuries. Ryan and Reed Raymond were both held out of the scrimmage although the two participated in the morning practice. James Price, who was injured this morning, and Raonall Smith (hamstring) were also held out of the scrimmage.

Scoring summary - Martin 98 kickoff return (no PAT attempt), FG Lindell 30, Wynn 18 pass from Mencke, FG Lindell 35, FG Lindell 37.

Rushing - Burnett 9/35, Hawkins 3/0, Arzu 8/7, C. Henderson 1/6, Hackett 1/5.
Passing - Gesser 11/5/0/87/0/63, Mencke 7/5/1/55/1/18, Nesen 5/4/0/34/0/14, Birnbaum 10/4/0/25/0/9, Kegel 5/3/0/18/0/8.
Receiving - Taylor 2/70, Wynn 5/57, Torian 2/18, Sheridan 3/17, C. Henderson 1/15, J. Shavies 1/14, Mizin 2/10, Burnett 1/7, M. Williams 1/7, Hawkins 1/5, Lunde 1/5, Zubedi 1/4.

Washington State Cougars Football