Spring has sprung: Wulff pleased w/ Day 1

PULLMAN – Spring football commenced on the Palouse Monday and head coach Paul Wulff was pleased with what saw – namely an abundance of speed – and noted two new defensive ends, among others, who stood out during the two-hour plus opening session.

"It was a really good day," Wulff said of the helmets-only affair. "Just our numbers at each position allowed us to keep players fresh and play fast. We didn't have to slow down -- it was a very efficient practice that way and I thought the players looked a little stronger and a little fresher. We had some new players come in who fit in right away which was very encouraging to see."

Of those rookies, defensive ends Xavier Cooper and Ian Knight made their presences known in big ways. Both off showed off serious wheels coming off the edge. Asked at practice's end if any of the seven new Cougars on the field caught his eye, Wulff mentioned them first.

"You know obviously in team situations you saw Ian Knight's speed on the edge was evident," Wulff said. "Xaiver Cooper had speed and strength on the edge, both those guys did."

Knight is a JC transfer from Kansas, and Cooper is a true freshman from Tacoma who grayshirted this past season after signing with the Cougars in the 2010 recruiting class.

Knight was in a battle with sophomoreleft tackle John Fullington during 11-on-11 drills, and the smoke was rising. A number of times Knight was able to fight through and put pressure on QB Jeff Tuel. Cooper, who worked primarily with the 2s, did much of the same and put heavy pressure on QB Marshall Lobbestael.

"I got a headache right now," Cooper joked after practice. "First day out there I'd give myself a C-minus. I still need to get into the defense because right now I'm just going off raw talent right now but once I get into the system I think I'll be alright.

"This spring session I just want to progress with my game," Cooper added. "I'm looking forward to try and make a leap to a starting role as a freshman. It's been a year since I've put on pads so it's kind of getting back into me but once I put on that switch I was ready to go."

Cooper was matched up opposite JC transfer Rico Forbes, and the two were in a see-saw tilt where on one play the two got tangled up and started jawing at one another.

The intensity was high between both players and on the next play Cooper exploded past Forbes and "sacked" Lobbestael. Cooper let Forbes know about the play with a passionate celebration, but on the very next play Forbes stopped Cooper right at the line.

Tuel said he loved watching every moment of their little war.

"We had guys and it was their first practice out here and they were leading, yelling, screaming. We saw Xavier and Rico out there with a little personal battle, Rico trying to get guys going. That was something I hadn't seen yet and it was his first practice and he's already stirring it up. That's what I like to see."

As for Tuel and the rest of the offense, efficient but not spectacular probably best describes the 11-on-11 sequences. A standout at receiver was Kristoff Williams, who redshirted this past season with turf toe. Monday, however, Williams showed no ill effects and hauled in a series of nice catches.

During 7-on-7 skelly drills, Williams turned in the play of the day when he was matched up with cornerback Tracy Clark. Tuel lobbed a 25-yard fade to his 6-foot-2 receiver, and Williams out-battled and out-leaped Clark and came down with the ball, securing it in mid-flight as he fell toward the ground.

At running back, Logwone Mitz is listed as the starter on the depth chart, but Rickey Galvin also saw plenty of action running with the 1s. Galvin, who broke his arm last season at Oklahoma State on his first collegiate carry, showed great burst going up the middle and Tuel said the lad has difference maker written all over him.

"Playmaking ability, speed, quickness, whatever you want to call it," Tuel said when asked what Galvin brings to the table. "He just makes things happen, really a playmaker."

Galvin wasn't a one-man show, though. His offensive line of LT Fullington, LG Wade Jacobsen, C Andrew Roxas, RG B.J. Guerra, and RT David Gonzales. had a solid day in opening holes for all backs.

‘ At center, Roxas had a fine day getting the ball to Tuel while in shotgun formation. Last year Zach Williams had trouble with low snaps, but Roxas was very efficient in getting the ball up in the air and Tuel was all smiles when asked about it following practice.

"Oh it was beautiful," Tuel quipped. "It was real nice."

As for the opening day as a whole, Wulff was pleased. "We want to start where we left off in the fall," he said. "I think we came out pretty sharp in a lot of ways, there was some rust but there was more familiarity with the coaches and the system."

NOTABLE NOTES:

  • The Cougs will have one more helmets-only session before dawning pads on Thursday. The Thursday practice will be the last one until March 22. For the first time, the Cougars are sandwiching spring practices around the school's spring break.

  • CB Daniel Simmons was not suited up for practice because he is continuing to recuperate from a shoulder injury sustained last season. With Simmons out, starting CBs were Nolan Washington and Damante Horton.


    ROOKIE SPEEDSTER HENRY EADDY

  • The Cougars focused on special teams early on and placekicker Andrew Furney was a perfect 5-of-5 from the 30-35 yard range. At the long snapper spot, where the Cougars are without Zach Enyeart for the first time in four years, redshirt junior Zack Koepp handled all the chores. Koepp looked good throughout, but did have a few snaps fly by holder Dan Wagner on FG attempts. Speaking of Wagner, he had an outstanding first day punting the ball, sailing a flurry of balls 40-45 yards.

  • Early enrollees Isiah Myers and Henry Eaddy, a pair of talented receivers from Florida, also stood out during Monday's practice. Myers showcased great hands and hauled in several nice catches during drills with the 2ss. Meanwhile, describing Eaddy as quick is an understatement. He was consistently blowing past defensive backs and was even underthrown to on several occasions. Eaddy also spent some time with the special teams as a punt returner along with Galvin, Blair Bomber, and Leon Brooks.

  • Defensive ends Travis Long (shoulder) and Jordan Pu'u-Robinson (knee) are sitting out the spring season rehabbing injuries. So is fullback Jared Byers (knee). Brandon Golden was in jeans and jersey on Monday, wearing a sling (torn pectoral muscle).

  • Stay tuned for a CF.C photo essay from Day 1 of spring ball.

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