The Washington State Cougars are looking to improve in the 2010 season after a dismal year riddled with injuries and painstaking play in 2009. Head coach Paul Wulff is in his third year and finally has some of his recruits hitting the field after a year of redshirting, and while there is some talent in the starting units, the depth to weather the injuries that come during the rigors of a college football season just isn't there.
In 2009, the Cougs were the most injured team in college football, and it wasn't even close. These injuries, coupled with a talent drain on both sides of the ball, led to a season of blowouts and games that became painful to watch. As the Cougs head toward their opening game in Stillwater, Okla., against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, they're looking to stay healthy and improve on both sides of the ball.
Training camp has been rolling along in Pullman, with the usual nicks and dings affecting the team. While they had avoided major injuries early, the injury bug has hit Pullman hard in the last few weeks.
The first casualty of the season was Jordan Pu'u Robinson, who tore his ACL during the scrimmage on Saturday after getting tangled up in a pile. He will miss the 2010 season and is scheduled to have surgery when the swelling goes down.
Freshman tight end Aaron Dunn -- a highly touted recruit from Spokane's Mead High School -- was lost for the season with a broken hand that required surgery. Dunn was expected to contribute at the tight end spot, but instead will redshirt this season. Spokesman-Review reporter Vince Grippi had his report on Dunn.
"It was kind of a freak thing," Wulff said of Dunn’s injury. "He was blocking somebody, put his hand in there and some how (his wrist) popped."
The freshman from Mead High, who watched practice with his casted arm encased in a foam pad, is scheduled for surgery next week and will redshirt.
News about the saddest injury for the Cougs came last week, with safety LeAndre Daniels having to retire from football after fracturing his neck. Daniels is the latest in a line of Cougs that has had to hang up the pads due to injury, something I wrote about on Friday.
I'm not upset by the implications of LeAndre Daniels' injury for the Cougars on the field. I have little doubt that Tyree Toomer, Chima Nwachukwu, and Jamal Atofau can step up in the inexperienced secondary. What bothers me the most is seeing another Cougar player have to hang it up with such a promising future ahead of them.
For the Cougars to have any chance of digging out of the cellar, they need to stay healthy. Injuries happen in football, but with a lack of depth they can quickly cripple a team. Heading into the season, Washington State needs to stay healthy and continue to progress in order to be competitive in the always tough Pac-10.
The Cougs take the field this Saturday against Oklahoma State at 4 p.m.
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