WSU Football Notebook | Cougars' Collins has a tall order to fill
One of the most versatile players for Washington State will try to fill in for the team's tallest offensive weapon Saturday when No. 10 California visits the...
Special to The Seattle Times
PULLMAN — One of the most versatile players for Washington State will try to fill in for the team's tallest offensive weapon Saturday when No. 10 California visits the Cougars.
Junior Jed Collins, who played linebacker and running back before being converted to tight end before this season, will start in place of 6-foot-8 senior Cody Boyd, who suffered an ankle injury Saturday on the first series of the 13-6 win at Oregon State.
"We lost a great player," the 6-2 Collins said, "but football is a game of opportunity, and it's my opportunity now."
Collins never redshirted because he was so valuable on special teams when he arrived in Pullman in the fall of 2004. His special-teams duties will be reduced now that he is a starter.
Collins, from San Juan Capistrano, Calif., has been used primarily in two-tight end formations this season and has caught eight passes for 94 yards. He scored his first touchdown on a 2-yard pass at Stanford.
"It hurts our offense to lose such a great player like Cody," said offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller. "But if you don't have your first choice, Jed's a good second."
Boyd has caught 15 passes for 238 yards and one touchdown and also blocked well. Boyd may be back sooner than expected. His injury was originally diagnosed as a high ankle sprain, which usually takes at least month to heal. However, coach Bill Doba said Tuesday that the injury was showing signs of being a more conventional ankle sprain and that Boyd may only be out one or two games.
Meanwhile, backup tight end Jesse Taylor, who has been out with a knee injury, practiced Tuesday. Another backup, Ben Woodard, is out with a knee injury. Tony Thompson is another backup, but Doba said he was reluctant to use Thompson much because he is the team's deep-snapper and suffered a concussion earlier in the season. Doba mentioned the possibility of using tackle Derek Hunter as a blocking tight end in some situations.
• Wide receiver Jason Hill (shoulder) didn't practice Tuesday, and Doba said it may be a game-time decision whether he plays. The coach indicated that if Hill plays, he may not see as much action as customary.
• Doba said the Cougars will spend extra practice on special teams, especially punt coverage. Oregon State's Sammie Stroughter returned four punts for 100 yards Saturday.
• There were two fumbled exchanges between center Kenny Alfred and quarterback Alex Brink at Oregon State. Brink said Tuesday that they will work this week to prevent it from happening again.
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