Pac-12: Brian Danaher
March, 22, 2010
Will have lots more from my visit to Washington State, which starts spring practices Thursday, but here are some notes from a conversation with coach Paul Wulff.
- The Cougars are much healthier this spring than last: 24 players missed offseason workouts last year. This year, just four will sit out spring practices: running back James Montgomery (knee, calf), defensive tackle Josh Luapo (knee), linebacker Louis Bland (knee) and cornerback Anthony Houston (knee).
- As for Montgomery, he had knee surgery in addition to his scary episode with "acute compartment syndrome" with his calf. Wulff said he won't be cleared to start full-speed running until June. As for the depth at running back Wulff listed Marcus Richmond, Chantz Staden, Logwone Mitz, Carl Winston and Leon Brooks, a walk-on who's made a positive impression.
- Wulff said there's no hope for receiver Johnny Forzani returning to the program: "He's going to try to play in the CFL." The Cougars have four receivers back who caught at least 20 passes: Jared Karstetter, Gino Simone, Jeffrey Solomon and Daniel Blackledge. Wulff said he expects JC transfer Isiah Barton and perhaps a couple of the four incoming freshmen receivers to contribute, most particularly Marquess Wilson. "Most everybody in the Pac-10 was trying to go on him," Wulff said. "He's a big-time, big-time player."
- Offensive lineman Brian Danaher, a 12-game starter over the past three seasons, won't be back because of recurrent concussions.
- Starting defensive tackle Toby Turpin's status is questionable due to an academic dispute, which Wulff said should be resolved -- positively or negatively -- within the next week or two. Turpin will be allowed to practice until his case is resolved.
- Wulff, perhaps surprisingly, said he believes the offensive line will be the strength off the offense. Andrew Roxas, who missed all of last season due to illness, will step in to fill the void at center due to the departure of stalwart Kenny Alfred. B.J. Guerra, Zack Williams and Steven Ayers will compete at guard. At tackle, two JC transfers will be in the mix this spring -- David Gonzales and Wade Jacobson -- along with Micah Hannam, Tyson Pencer and Alex Reitnouer. Wulff also said the he thinks incoming true freshman John Fullington might be ready to immediately contribute. "I think he was one of the best [high school] offensive linemen in the country," he said.
- Tight end Zach Tatman was granted a sixth year of eligibility, which means the Cougs will have three experienced tight ends with Skylar Stormo and Andrei Lintz.
- Redshirt freshman Sekope Kaufusi will see time as a hybrid outside linebacker-defensive end. Wulff said he's been impressed by redshirt freshman end Jordan Pu'u Robinson during the off-season.
- Touted JC transfer Brandon Rankin -- he was offered a scholarship by Alabama -- will play both end and tackle.
- Defensive tackle Bernard Wolfgramm continues to struggle with back problems, but Wulff said he was "moving around and participating in drills better since his back surgery. So that's promising." Still, it's likely his action will be limited this spring.
- Depth at defensive tackle is a question, but sophomore Dan Spitz, who started five games at tackle and end last year, redshirt freshman Justin Clayton and sophomore Anthony Laurenzi are promising prospects.
- Wulff said the defense will be much faster at linebacker. When he's healthy in the fall, Bland will move to middle linebacker. Mike Ledgerwood also is a top candidate in the middle, along with redshirt freshman Darren Markle. Alex Hoffman-Ellis will move from middle to weakside linebacker. Arthur Burns will move from running back to "Will" linebacker. Myron Beck and Andre Barrington will man the strongside. Incoming recruit C.J. Mizell also could be in the mix.
- The secondary, hit hard by injuries a year ago, should be much improved with LeAndre Daniels, Tyree Toomer, Chima Nwachukwu, Jay Matthews and redshirt freshman Anthony Carpenter, Casey Locker -- Jake's cousin -- and Jamal Atofau competing at safety and Daniel Simmons, Aire Justin, Terrance Hayward and promising redshirt freshman Nolan Washington at corner.
October, 8, 2009
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
It appears that true freshman Jeff Tuel will make his second start against Arizona State on Saturday, and the Cougars are probably hoping it will last longer than his first one.
Tuel was knocked out in the first quarter of last week's game with Oregon with a hip/back injury, but he's been running with the first-team offense this week.
The Spokesman-Review reported that Tuel has been helped by "a special pad constructed by equipment manager Josh Pietz and trainer Brian Oelke" that protects his hip.
If Tuel struggles, he'd be replaced by sophomore Marshall Lobbestael. The problem is No. 3. With senior Kevin Lopina out with a calf injury, sophomore walk-on Dan Wagner is the third option.
The Cougars' overall injury situation remains fairly bleak. Overall, the Cougars are down five players from the preseason offensive line depth chart.
Receiver Jared Karstetter (hip), linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis (staph infection), offensive guard Brian Danaher (concussion) and offensive guard Zack Williams (ankle) are likely out, while running back Dwight Tardy is nursing a shoulder injury and that could limit him. The makeshift offensive line that struggled against Oregon likely will remain the same against the Sun Devils, whose defense is as good or better than the Ducks. That line includes a 253-pound true freshman, Alex Reitnouer, at left guard and a redshirt freshman, Tyson Pencer at left tackle.
There is good news. The Cougs get a bye next week, which should help them get at least a couple of injured players back.
September, 22, 2009
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Washington State posted a gutty, comeback win in overtime against SMU on Saturday, but it seems like there is generally a "but" after something positive happens with the Cougars these days.
That's the case again.
Junior running back James Montgomery is out for the season after undergoing surgery Sunday morning for acute compartment syndrome in his left leg.
“I feel terrible for James,” coach Paul Wulff said in a statement. “He has worked so hard since the minute he stepped on campus and is the complete package in terms of a student-athlete. He will be missed this season but knowing James he will continue to make a great impact on our program.”
Through the first three games, Montgomery is the Cougars leading rusher, including an 118-yard effort against Hawaii.
Montgomery, a transfer from California, had six carries for 10 yards against SMU. His bothersome knee and some injury woes on the line largely explain why the Cougars only rushed for 37 yards against the Mustangs.
The Cougars now will face USC on Saturday without Montgomery and their top three guards. B.J. Guerra sprained his knee against SMU and will be out four to six weeks, while Zack Williams is still out with a high ankle sprain. In the preseason, returning starter Andrew Roxas was lost to a liver infection.
Freshman Tyson Pencer will start at left tackle, displacing Steven Ayers, who moves inside to left guard. Junior Brian Danaher, a former walk on, will step in at right guard.
Asked if things were thin on the line, Wulff said, "Really thin."
Maybe not as thin as last year when USC obliterated WSU 69-0. The Trojans outgained the Cougars 625 yards to 116. The Cougars only had four first downs vs. 28 for USC.
Wulff isn't planning to play the redemption card to motivate his team this week.
"We haven't and we don't plan on it," he said. "We're a lot different team and they're a lot different team."
Wulff's primary focus at present is getting his out-manned squad to play hard for all four quarters, which it often didn't do last year. Part of that, he said, is "not getting caught up in the score." That might make some cringe, but the Cougs didn't let a 17-0 first-half deficit vs. SMU keep them from fighting back and finding creative ways to win -- such as returning two interception for long TDs.
Washington State was outgained 504-276. But it still won.
Further along those lines, Wulff also sees reason for optimism in two overtime victories in the last five games.
"I think we're starting to make some headway, and our players are starting to feel good about our improvement," he said.
If the Cougs could just stay healthy, they might show more improvement.
August, 28, 2008
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
And so it begins. Pause for a moment and imagine yourself 14 weeks hence. Are you smiling? Love the optimism!
- It's the worst-case scenario for Oregon QB Nate Costa -- knee injury ends his second-consecutive season. You may not like the Ducks, but it's hard to be unsympathetic to this guy -- a great talent who deserves a break. A look at those scheming coordinators. Three questions for Mike Bellotti -- with video!
- Don't Tase me, man! The 'Zona Zoo stadium policy for Arizona games hopefully will be clearer this season. The Wildcats new special-teams coach isn't new to the Wildcats. The offense is hoping for successful drives, but this guy knows a thing or two about doing those drives fast.
- Arizona State may sit starting TB Keegan Herring against Northern Arizona. Here's how to keep up with the progress of former Sun Devils coach (and all-around great guy) Bruce Snyder, who's battling cancer. Noting the Sun Devils. Hey, Coach, you guys need a long-snapper? Er, yeah.
- A California preview. Concerns from Wednesday's practice: Are CB Syd'Quan Thompson and WR Michael Calvin healthy? Ray Ratto takes a look at Bay Area college football and the types of faith on either side of the Bay Bridge.
- The Oregonian's College Football Preview. Oregon State QB Lyle Moevao is playing it cool. It's going to be hot at Stanford, perhaps in more ways than one, because the Beavers are hoping for a fast start.
- A Stanford preview. The Cardinal have some questions at WR. The keys to success. And 10 things to watch for in the Standford-OSU game.
- UCLA's Rick Neuheisel has a plan. Part of that plan is probably for DT Brian Price to terrorize offenses. Price suffered through a lot of pain before arriving in Westwood. It appears OT Micah Kia will be able to start against Tennessee with a cast on his injured hand. Here's how starting QB Kevin Craft ended up at UCLA. Practice notes.
- If USC QB Mark Sanchez goes down, it will be Aaron Corp coming in, not Mitch Mustain. Some reaction from Mustain. Checking in with Taylor Mays. And Virginia's 3-4 defense will be a good preview for California's new look.
- At Washington, a former walk-on will replace E.J. Savannah at LB. It's urgency time for Tyrone Willingham. A good way to improve: Stop the second-half meltdowns, which might happen with a more savvy, experienced Jake Locker. Noting Wednesday's practice. Success depends on a handful of freshmen growing up quickly.
- Bud Withers considers how long Washington State's Paul Wulff will need to adjust to Pac-10 football. He also looks at fifth-year senior QB Gary Rogers. T
he Cougars like playing a game in Seattle. From an unrecruited walk-on to Cougars OL starter, that's the short trip for local product Brian Danaher.
- Will 2008 be nearly as nutty as 2007? We shall see. Jake Curtis previews the Pac-10. So does Jonathan Okanes here.
August, 26, 2008
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller
Two news items.
- USC QB Mark Sanchez, who dislocated his knee cap on Aug. 8, has received final clearance from team doctors to start at Virginia.
- Senior Dan Rowlands, who's started 21 games on the offensive line for Washington State, has left the team due to "persistent, chronic pain in both shoulders," according to a release from the school. Rowlands was slated to start at right tackle against Oklahoma State on Saturday. Sophomore Micah Hannam will move outside from guard to replace Rowlands, and sophomore Brian Danaher will step in for Hannam inside. This was the Cougars second hit Tuesday. Earlier they learned that defensive lineman Andy Roof had been kicked out of school due to multiple discipline violations. More on Roof and Rowlands here.