By GLENN KASSES
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PULLMAN -- The noise starts to build the moment after the defender breaks free from his blocker. Careening into a pocket meant to exist without him, the defender zeroes in on the ball. And only one goal remains -- sack the quarterback. "You see nothing else but the quarterback,"
A defender, especially on the defensive line, spends most of the game searching for a way to get to the quarterback. Offensive linemen are trained on a daily basis every nuance of positioning and power to keep these players as far from the passer as possible. The quarterback is taught specific escape routes if protection breaks down, and between them an offense can frustrate a bloodthirsty defender to no end, especially if he leaves the field empty-handed. "There's always a buildup. The guy's got something to say for four quarters," Cougars quarterback Alex Brink said. "The guy from USC, Lawrence Jackson, he was talking to me the whole game but he never got a sack. 'Oh, I'm here, I'm here. I'm coming.' But I was like, 'Well, you haven't gotten a sack yet.' After the game he said to me, 'I just wanted to get one.' "
Should a defender reach his target on time, he almost always has something to say. Some players will admit to planning their post-sack words for a quarterback in advance, and they rarely forget their best lines -- not to mention their teammates' -- after the fact. Junior defensive tackle Aaron Johnson has four sacks in his WSU career, two of them coming this season. "One time I said, 'Hey, my name's Aaron Johnson ... remember that,' " he recalled. "(Mkristo), he says all kinds of stuff. ... In the Stanford game, he started counting. Sack the quarterback. 'One.' Sack the quarterback. 'Two.' " Bruce finished with five in that game, but defensive players seem to agree that getting one big sack can be far greater than getting multiple sacks of lesser importance. Scott Davis collected three sacks against
"Most of the time they're going to see you coming and try to make a move,"
NOTE: Wide receiver Jason Hill practiced again in a no-contact jersey on Thursday, another indication the senior may be able to play against