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Originally published Sunday, April 12, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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RB James Montgomery looks good in Washington State's first scrimmage

Sophomore scores a touchdown for the No. 1 offense while rushing for more than 60 yards

Special to The Seattle Times

PULLMAN — The Washington State Cougars are emphasizing quality of play over quantity of players during spring football.

The injury-battered Cougars held their first major scrimmage of the spring Saturday with several potential starters on the sidelines, but the crisp play left coaches encouraged on a cold, wet morning at Martin Stadium.

"It's coming," offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy said. "We've got a ways to go, but the backs are running hard. You're hearing pads crack, pop."

Numerous Cougars are bigger and stronger thanks to a demanding, revamped offseason conditioning program. The coaches were dismayed over the lack of size, strength and speed they inherited last season.

The Cougars finished ninth in the Pac-10 last season at 1-8 (2-11 overall) and ranked among the nation's worst teams in several offensive and defensive statistics.

Sophomore running back James Montgomery, a former blue-chip high-school recruit who redshirted last year after transferring from California, took most of the snaps with the No. 1 offense.

Montgomery and veteran Dwight Tardy looked sharp, both rushing for more than 60 yards on 6-plus yards per carry.

Coaches say the Cougars' consistency and attitude has improved, despite the absence from all or many practices or drills by injured players like quarterbacks Marshall Lobbestael and J.T. Levenseller, linebackers Andy Mattingly and Myron Beck, offensive linemen Kenny Alfred and Micah Hannam, defensive linemen Bernard Wolfgramm and Josh Luapo and offensive handyman Chantz Staden.

Notes

• The No. 1 offense scored against the No. 2 defense on Montgomery's 33-yard run and Kevin Lopina's 8-yard pass to tight end Skylar Stormo. Dan Wagner and Randy Johnson hooked up for a 25-yard TD pass against the No. 1 defense.

• Cornerback Kevin Frank and wide receiver Michael Vandenkolk have quit the team.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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