Cougars notebook: Nakia Watson is about to start racing for WSU

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EL PASO, Texas – The Washington state soccer team will play its final without its two senior backs and two senior offensive tackles, so the Cougars are giving fans a glimpse into the future.

Nakia Watson is set to start her first game in the WSU backfield, and he will take over behind a reworked offensive line – a glimpse of the squad’s staff squad up front in 2022, possibly – when the Cougs meet Central Michigan at 9 a.m. Friday in the Solar Bowl.

“The opportunity has arisen for (Watson) and the O linemen too,” Laura quarterback Jayden said Wednesday after a padless but energetic practice session at Eastwood High. “It’s a really good look at what we got for next year. We love it, and we’ll see what we got in this ball game.

Half-star Max Borghi opted out of the WSU playoff game earlier this month to focus on preparing for the NFL draft.

Deon McIntosh, another outgoing senior who has had 111 ground attempts this year compared to Borghi’s 160, will also not play in the Sun Bowl, according to coach Jake Dickert.

“Deon didn’t make the trip and that’s really all I’m going to say about it,” Dickert said Wednesday.

Right tackle Abraham Lucas opted out of the bowl game after completing his impressive fourth Coug campaign, in which he did not allow a sack and saw his name appear on NFL radars. Left tackle Liam Ryan – who, like Lucas, started 42 games on the WSU O-Line – did not travel with the team to the West Texas city.

Speculation had circulated among Cougar supporters in recent weeks that Ryan would miss the Sun Bowl with an unspecified injury. Dickert confirmed the rumors. Ryan recently had surgery.

“I appreciate everything Liam has done for us,” Dickert said. “We’re trying to get him to come here on match day because he’s one of our captains and vocal leaders.”

McIntosh’s surprise absence likely means a heavy workload for Watson, the junior transfer from Wisconsin who drew praise from coaches at fall camp in August but was unable to break RB’s rotation and has played sparingly in his first season on the Palouse.

The 5-foot-11, 230-pounder totaled 52 yards in just 19 carries for the Cougars (7-5). He racked up 522 yards and five touchdowns in 127 attempts in 16 games in two years with the Badgers.

“It’s nothing new to him,” Laura said of Watson. “He’s already played on a big stage.

Watson, from Austin, Texas, returns to his home state with a chance of more than doubling his 2021 production.

“He was waiting to really prove himself all season,” Dickert said. “He hasn’t had a lot of reps so far.

“Some of the guys are pulling out, that’s what it is, but we’re fortunate enough to see some of our young guys. We’ve had the opportunity to do this over the past four weeks, but there’s nothing you can replicate like game day. Nakia is going to have great reps and we’re going to be excited about what he can do, and it will be a stepping stone for him for our future.

The elusive sophomore Jouvensly Bazil is rumored to be the Cougars’ # 2 option at RB.

In the trenches, the Cougars have moved some pieces to compensate for their limits in the tackle.

Jarrett Kingston, the year-round left-guard WSU starter, slides to the left tackle.

“I think his future is in tackling, and I think it will be an exciting piece to see what he can do in this position,” Dickert said of the second-year junior starter, who is 6. -5 and a score of £ 300.

Senior Brian Greene has missed a few games this year due to injury and later a personal matter. When available, the Yakima product typically starts centrally for WSU. He worked on guard in a few contests and he will get the go-ahead for left guard against CMU.

Sophomore Konner Gomness replaced Greene this season, starting center in seven games. He will arrive at eight o’clock on Friday.

Breakout sophomore Ma’ake Fifita will maintain his right guard position. He alternated with Cade Beresford at this location throughout the year, but Beresford was recently transferred to Boise State.

Christian Hilborn replaces Lucas on the right tackle.

Dickert sees great potential in the real agile freshman from Salt Lake City, who moves more smoothly than one would expect from a 6-5, 319 pounds.

“Christian has the opportunity to play right now, in this game and show what he can do,” said the first-year coach. “He didn’t come here just to sit on the bench, so he’s been preparing all season like he’s the starter, and now he’s going to have this opportunity.”

Sophomore Rodrick Tialavea and real freshman Jernias Tafia are listed on the WSU Bowl Week Depth Chart as backup guards. Dickert reported earlier this month that junior Jack Wilson – a 6 to 11-year-old former basketball player in Idaho and Oregon State – had “done a bunch of reps” on tackle in the sessions. WSU pre-bowl practice at Pullman and can replace in a pinch. .

“(O-line coach Dennis McKnight) he’s been training his tail for four weeks, and this group is going to respond – I guarantee you that,” Dickert said.

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