Injuries have ushered in a new generation of young, promising inside linebackers for No. 8 WSU Cougars

After injuries to three key seniors, redshirt freshmen Jahad Woods and Justus Rogers have been pressed into duty at inside linebacker this year. WSU LB coach Ken Wilson says they’ll be just fine

Ken Wilson said his veteran linebackers laughed at him last weekend as they watched him coach Washington State freshmen Justus Rogers and Jahad Woods through their first outing as a linebacking tandem in WSU’s 33-10 win over Oregon.

Peyton Pelluer, Isaac Dotson and Nate DeRider, the three senior linebackers WSU started the year with, were all on the injured list by the end of the Oregon game. Pelluer’s been out for almost a month now with a broken foot, and is currently recovering from surgery. Dotson and DeRider both left the Oregon game in succession with injuries.

Which is how WSU found itself down to its fourth-string middle linebacker – Rogers – and Woods, originally Dotson’s backup at will linebacker, against the Ducks.

Freshman Jahad Woods has now started three games for WSU. And the Cougars haven’t missed a beat without Peyton Pelluer

“They were laughing that I coached the young guys differently in the game,” Wilson said, referring to his trio of seasoned walking wounded. “They were saying, ‘You put your arm around them, you’re out there on the field with them talking one-on-one.’ And I told them, “Yeah, I had to do that with you guys too, once upon a time.’”

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Woods was making his third career start, while Rogers, who played quarterback at Bellevue High before switching to defense at WSU, was playing his first meaningful defensive snaps in a football game since his junior varsity days in high school.

So Wilson paid a little more attention to Woods and Rogers, staying in close touch throughout the game. Other that than, nothing changed on defense for the Cougars as the freshmen plugged into the system and picked up right where…

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