Aug. 26, 2000
PULLMAN, Wash. -- - "We didn't bust one tackle on offense or gain one yard after contact, but then we didn't miss one tackle on defense," observed Washington State University head football coach Mike Price after watching his Cougar team drill against scout team players in a "touch" scrimmage Saturday morning.
For the record, the Cougar offense scored three times and the defense scored once and held the scout team players scoreless, but the real intent of the final scrimmage-style practice was not to make the statistics look good.
"It is hard to judge from this just how far along we are" Price said,. "I do know it was a great learning experience for both sides of the football. Our offense learned a lot, they were faced with all kinds of situations like two two-minute drills and on-side kicks, and they will learn from that.
A pair of sophomores on offense carried much of the load, Jason Gesser and Deon Burnett. Gesser hit 22 of 32 passes for 279 yards and one touchdown against the scout team running a Stanford style defense, while Burnett picked up 50 yards on seven carries. Burnett also scored once on a 12 yard run, while Jeremy Thielbahr had a one-yard touchdown run.
Three receivers hauled in 17 of the 26 completions by Gesser and understudy Matt Kegel. Milton Wynn caught seven passes for 68 yards, Marcus Williams five for 45 yards and newcomer Nakoa McElrath five for 129 yards, including receptions of 45 and 30 yards the first two times he caught the ball. Wynn had the only receiving score of the morning, a five-yarder from Gesser.
Overall, only WSU's kicking game did not find favor with Price.
"I was not disappointed with anything today other than the kicking game" said Price. "It has been much better in previous practices and scrimmages. I hope that was because of nerves, playing with officials, new uniforms, the scoreboard on and an announcer. Or it might also just be a bad day, but they can do better than today."
One thing Price wants to see in the next week before the Cougars open the season at home against Stanford Sept. 2 is rest.
"I think we are tired physically and mentally," he pointed out. "It also isn't going to help that Monday is the first day of school because that is always a rough practice. They focus on what they should focus on, school, but that doesn't help me as a football coach."
Still, after three tough days of practice early in the week, Price and his staff will cut back the workouts. "We will lighten up a lot Thursday and Friday. We won't do much because they need the rest. This campus for the first week (of classes) is at a high level of enthusiasm, so there is a lot of action at night and it does not bid well for sleeping. This team needs to concentrate on getting rest and sleep next week, but it will be difficult"
Saturday after the morning workout, the team bussed to Camp Larson on Coeur d'Alene Lake.
"This is a chance for the kids can get to know each other better," said Price. It also is a chance for our coaches to get to know the players better. We need them to relax. They can sleep, swim and just lay around, then come home Sunday."
COUGAR PAWS: The injury list includes Farwan Zubedi (knee, out for Stanford), Adam Hawkins (knee bruise, probable), Sam Lightbody (thumb, questionable) and Serign Marong (back, returns Monday)...veteran cornerback Chris Martin missed last week's practices while returning home for the funeral of his brother who died a week ago...in WSU's first three live scrimmages, Jason Gesser completed 29 of 53 passes (54.7%) for 343 yards and four scores, while Matt Kegel hit 17 of 28 (60.7%) for 156 yards and one TD...freshman Tali Ena in those three scrimmages hit 19 of 35 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns...in three scrimmages those three quarterbacks threw just two interceptions, one each by Gesser and Ena.
RUSHING - Burnett 7/50, Gesser 9/-37, Hawkins 4/26, Kegel 1/2, Minnich 5/19, Thielbahr 2/8, Tippins 2/3, Nettles 1/10,
PASSING: Gesser 22/32/0/279/1, Kegel 4/7/0/26/0,
RECEIVING: Wynn 7/68, Williams 5/45, McElrath 5/129, Hawkins 1/0, Chase 1/6, C. Henderson 2/20, Burnett 2/6, Mencke 1/8, Nettles 1/13,
SACKS: Kongaika, Shavies, Newman, Camarena 2, Adedipe,
SCORING: Thielbahr 1 run (Lambert kick), Burnett 12 run (Wilaikul kick), Isaacson 60 interception (Wilaikul kick), Wynn 5 pass from Gesser (Lambert kick).