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Practice Patchwork At Oregon St.

Rahmel Dockery went down against California, but is probable to return against Washington St.
Rahmel Dockery went down against California, but is probable to return against Washington St.
(Photo by Andy Wooldridge)

Oregon St. WR Rahmel Dockery went down with a twisted ankle against California, but the good news Monday at practice is that it was just a twist, and after a day's rest, Dockery was back at practice, and should be good to go this coming Saturday against Washington St.

And before the rumor mill gets out of control, safety Ryan Murphy's absence is not a concern. Murphy missed practice, but Coach Mike Riley said it was to deal with a personal matter, and stressed it was not a "problem" (personal matters so often are assumed to mean grades/legal/team rules type issues), or an injury/illness. Good to know that life impacts everyone, and Murphy should be back shortly.

Against the Cougars' "Air Raid", even with a replacement red-shirt freshman quarterback, the Beavers will need Murphy Saturday afternoon.

After senior quarterback Connor Halliday suffered a season, and WSU career, ending broken leg against USC, which also ends his quest to overhaul Oregon St.'s Sean Mannion for the career conference passing mark Mannion established Saturday night, Luke Falk came on, and threw 57 passes, so don't assume that Cougar Coach Mike Leach is going to take anything out of the play book.

Falk completed 38 of those passes, for 346 yards and 2 touchdowns, and was only intercepted once by the Trojan defense.

The Oregon St. defense did get some more discouraging news though, as neither starting DEs. Jaswha James nor Lavonte Barnett practiced. Both were pre-game scratches against both Stanford and California, and though Riley said Barnett might be able to play against Washington St., its apparent his ankle is being more troublesome than originally expected.

The news is worse about James, who hurt a knee against Utah, and now also is having back problems. Riley said he's just not getting a lot better, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he has to be shut down for a while longer.

The absence of James and Barnett coincides with what was the #2 defense in the Pac-12 suddenly getting carved up the last 2 weeks. Their loss has been significant, especially with Dylan Wynn moving inside exclusively with the absence of Jalen Grimble since he suffered a knee injury at USC.

Grimble is finally back in pads at practice, but has yet to work on 11 on 11 drills, and will be fortunate to make his return by the Arizona St. game.

The situation continues to deteriorate for the Oregon St. offensive line as well, as Roman Sapolu did not practice. His status for this week is uncertain, and even if he plays, once again, the line is getting shuffled, and so practice isn't moving toward continuity, but merely trying to keep 5 guys in front of Mannion.

Grant Bays, previously benched, is likely to return to the lineup if Sapolu doesn't return.

Gavin Andrews, who has missed the last 2 weeks after breaking a bone in his ankle against Utah is working on the side, but still isn't able to practice in unit drills, and realistically won't be ready this week yet either.

There is a little bit of good news, as TE Kellen Clute is off crutches, but is still at least a couple of weeks from returning, meaning the Washington trip and the Civil War are probably all he can hope for.

Finding creative ways to help both lines needs to be a priority if Oregon St. is to find a way to keep up with Washington St., and get a win in what is their most winnable remaining game. A loss to the Cougs would mean having to beat 2 of 3 of Pac-12 South leading Arizona St., Washington on the road, and Pac-12 North leading and Football Playoff contending Oregon in order for the Beavers to become bowl eligible. Even one win in that series will be enough of a challenge for a team with both of their lines depleted.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com