p class="TEXT_w_Indent"> "They did some things they hadn't done before," Tujague said.
So the Cougars (5-2) go into Friday night's showdown with Boise State (5-2) knowing they need to protect Hill a lot better than they did last week. They are mostly healthy, save for a few nicks and bruises and the lingering injury that is keeping starting center Terrance Alletto off the field.
"Probably not," Tujague said Tuesday when I asked him if Alletto will play this week. "Not likely, so tremendous progress being made, but again it is one of those things that are precautionary. Again, we are good at the center spot. [Edward] Fusi and Brayden [Kearsley] are doing an amazing job."
Alletto's injury involves recurring stingers in his neck and shoulders, but not much else about the setback has been disclosed.
Fusi is the 6-foot, 317-pound transfer from Mount SAC in California who missed most of fall camp to get some eligibility issues worked out in regards to academics. Given Alletto's health, the Cougars are lucky they found him.
"I am very impressed with Fusi," Tujague said. "He has done a good job getting in shape. That's been the main concern, and he's gotten better at that. He brings a much more physical presence. You sit there on Saturday, and in the middle of it all, I am going, 'my gosh, I miss Terrance Alletto.' Not that Fusi was doing a bad job, but to be able to get guys in the right spots and all that [Alletto was good at that]."
Kearsley made his first college start at guard against Georgia Tech, and is quickly becoming a fan favorite due to his feisty play and willingness to mix it up with opponents.
"Brayden's feistiness, his desire, his want-to, his ability to be much more athletic maybe than who he is going against is an absolute huge advantage that he has," Tujague said.
And the coach doesn't mind it a bit that Kearsley has some nastiness to him.
"Not at all. I love it. I love every second of it, and that's a huge part of what we are trying to develop here. Again, when you cross that line, you are a nasty dude. You come back across, and you open that door for that young lady, call your mom every night and tell her that you love her, and all that good stuff. But when you come across that line, it is time to get to work," Tujague said.
I asked the coach if he noticed that a Houston defensive lineman took a swing at Kearsley in the last game.
"It's football. It's football. To me, if a guy is swinging at you, that means you are doing a great job. So I [would] take it as a compliment," Tujague said.