WSU wrapped up spring practices with its Crimson and Gray game on Saturday in Spokane, and by any measure used by the team and/or athletic department, the experience was a successful one.
On the field, the Crimson team -- made up entirely of the No. 1 units and some key backups -- demolished the Gray team, 38-3. Logwone Mitz rushed for 106 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown, while Jeff Tuel completed 12-of-17 passes for 128 yards and a TD, a 29-yarder to Andrei Lintz.
I won't read too much into that -- Are our No. 1s just that good? Do our backups really suck? WHAT DOES IT MEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAN? -- but I will heartily celebrate the fact that WSU escaped spring drills relatively unscathed in the injury department. Only wide receiver Blair Bomber suffered an injury that will need surgery, and that's huge:
A final spring football Sunday post - SportsLink - Spokesman.com - April 17, 2011
Most players will get a full off-season of work in and almost all should be healthy to go once fall camp starts in early August (and no, I don't know the exact date yet, though I have asked). It's hard to emphasis enough how important this is for WSU's improvement. A full group of players working out over the summer should engender large strength gains up and down the roster. And a fall that at least starts with everyone should help produce competition for positions and be a foundation for progress.
Beyond that, more than 4,000 fans turned out to watch the game. Celebrating that will get you laughed at in certain circles, but it represents substantial progress for WSU, which would would play this game in front of just hundreds in years past.
And it could be building a much-needed bond between Pullman and its larger neighbor to the north:
Blanchette: WSU hopes visit is reciprocated - Spokesman.com - April 16, 2011
But you get the feeling that Moos desires some instant, dramatic gains from the Spokane audience ("I think we can draw 4, 5, maybe 6,000 from here"), possibly because he's seen it before. ... Yet surely he knows that he's fighting a different sort of cultural war here; when Wazzu had its greatest stretch of football success a decade ago, the school didn't capitalize on it and attendance ebbed as soon as the victories did.
I don't know how much all of this stuff helped the program in the last seven days, but I know it certainly didn't hurt. And that's a good thing.
Here's the best of the rest of the coverage from Saturday. Video interviews with Paul Wulff, Jeff Tuel and Jared Karstetter after the jump:
WSU enjoys good crowd for scrimmage - Spokesman.com - April 16, 2011
The starters scored the first five times they had the ball, including a 70-yard run by Logwone Mitz, a 29-yard pass from Jeff Tuel to 6-foot-5, 247-pound tight end Andrei Lintz, who made a diving catch in the end zone, and a 32-yard reverse by Henry Eaddy, who was playing high school football in Florida five months ago.
Cougfan.com: Spring finale: Cougs' speed has Wulff raving
THE CRIMSON SCORED on all five possessions in the first half of the game. The no-huddle, hurry-up offense that Wulff and offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy have often struggled to implement since their arrival in Pullman was purring like never before in any practice or game, Wulff said. "We couldn’t click like that if it was versus air the first two years," Wulff cracked.
WSU ends spring with 38-3 Crimson win in scrimmage - SportsLink - Spokesman.com - April 16, 2011
There was a large group of former Cougar players in attendance, part of AD Bill Moos' push to get them involved in the program. Here's a list put together for me by the sports information department: Hamza Abdullah, Husain Abdullah, Erik Coleman, Marcus Trufant, Ryan Leaf, Matt Kegel, Alex Teems, Jack Thompson, Tony Thompson, Jason Gesser, Bobby Byrd, Kyle Basler, Collin Henderson, Daniel Blackledge, Cole Morgan, Grady Emmerson and Billy Newman.