Aug. 16, 2000
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PULLMAN, Wash. -- - Led by hard charging junior linebacker Raonall Smith, Washington State's defense had the upper hand in the Cougars' first scrimmage of the fall Wednesday, according to head coach Mike Price.
"Raonall Smith was devastating," offered Price. "We couldn't block him and finally had to pull him out to at least get a first down."
While Price didn't think the defense had been getting the upper hand during the first week of practice, there was no question during the scrimmage, the first workout in Martin Stadium this fall.
"The defense won the battle today, obviously, but until today I thought the advantage was more with the offense," Price commented. "I would have thought the tackling would not be as crisp as it was today, but we didn't miss very many tackles. Normally in your first scrimmage you miss a lot of tackles."
During the two hour scrimmage, freshman Tali Ena got a lot of work and responded by hitting 11 of his 19 passes for 115 yards. Starter Jason Gesser hit on four of his six tosses for 24 yards and also had one six-yard run, while Matt Kegel was 4-of-9 for 37 yards. Combined, the five WSU quarterbacks hit 24-of-43 passes, with one interception, for 239 yards.
Deon Burnett broke off the most exciting offensive play of the day with a 73-yard dash to the end zone. He finished with 104 yards on just eight carries, while junior college transfer Dave Minnich chipped in with 37 yards on 12 carries and also caught a pair of passes.
"I thought Deon ran very well," Price said. "But we still need to keep pushing him with the other guys. Right now five of the jaycee players we recruited and thought would help us immediately didn't play because of muscle pulls.
"Minnich is the one who did play and he is so tough, he would play no matter what. However, he did play with that slippery ball early, instead of the one with the stick'um on it."
Milton Wynn, who missed all but the opener last year because of a fractured finger, caught four passes for 33 yards, while walk-on Scott Lunde added four catches for 28 yards.
While Smith didn't have any sacks, he helped set up his teammates, who responded with five sacks, two by Tupo Tuppo and one each for Anthony Adedipe, Mike Hooker and D.D. Acholonu.
Overall, the scrimmage was a little rough," Price observed. "As you might expect, the experienced players we have played well and the inexperienced players played like they were inexperienced. There were a lot of fumbles early by some of the inexperienced players. It was like they were playing with a slippery ball for awhile."
While the play of the offensive line was not mistake free, Price liked what he saw. "The young kids on the line are hustling and trying with great effort and it is just a matter of time before they start eliminating those mistakes."
Looking ahead to the Cougars' next scrimmage Saturday morning, Price said he and his staff need to do a lot of evaluating of plays.
"We need to get well, rest and evaluate what we have done and start picking out more of the plays we might use againt Stanford, or plays we like," he said. "We need to select the best plays from today and work on them."