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PULLMAN – Empirical evidence of an attitude shift among Washington State’s offensive linemen can be found each day during the Cougars’ inside run drill.

The drill is designed to force the offense to run the ball between the tackles against a defense that is expecting it. Mike Leach tells his players that if the back picks up 3 yards, the play is considered a success.

So, yeah, it says something that senior center Elliott Bosch and his teammates have come to view a 3-yard gain as the minimum acceptable result.

“We’re popping big runs, and (the running back) will score a touchdown on an inside run, which shouldn’t happen,” Bosch said. “So now when we only get 3 yards or 4 yards or 5 yards, it’s like, ‘OK guys, what did we do? How can we get better?’ We’re not surprised by those big runs anymore.”

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They had reason to be surprised by them last year, because they almost never occurred. WSU finished last in the country last season in rushing yards, and was also last in sacks allowed with 57. Both of the team’s quarterbacks, Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday, missed game action due to injury.

That all is a fairly damning reflection of the Cougars’ performance up front, for which the unit has held itself accountable.

“It was on us,” sophomore left tackle Gunnar Eklund said. “We didn’t handle adversity as well as we should have.”

Now? They swear the improvement is obvious.

“We’re a lot tougher and a lot more competitive than we were,” offensive line coach Clay McGuire said. “I guess that would be the one thing. I’ve been really pleased.”

Dockery quits

Rahmel Dockery, a Washington State redshirt freshman cornerback from Curtis High, has left the WSU football team, his father Steve confirmed Friday night.

Dockery, who cleared 7 feet as a high-school sophomore in track and 24 feet in the long jump, switched from receiver to cornerback last year in fall camp.

He told The Times in July he was “starting to get used to it and liking it more,” but had a falling-out with coaches in fall camp when he fell on the depth chart and wasn’t used as a return man.

Seattle Times reporter Bud Withers contributed to this report

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