PRACTICE REPORT: Cougar D boosted by returns

PULLMAN -- Buoyed by the return of a few players, the defense looked sharp during the first day of full contact Tuesday as the Cougars prepare for their season opener Saturday against Idaho State. The effort was highlighted by a player entrenched in a battle for a starting position at cornerback at the end of practice.

The practice featured the return of CBs Nolan Washington and Brandon Golden and DE Travis Long. Long was suited up with his knee still heavily taped and didn't participate in any of the live action, but Golden and Washington were able to go at full speed.

Washington (hamstring) jumped right back into the action and saw some time running with the 1s with CB Daniel Simmons opposite of CB Damante Horton. Meanwhile, Golden was working with the 2s and was able to test his right ankle which had a brace on it.

AS FOR THE action on the field, WSU spent most of the time with special teams (which we'll cover in depth below) and group drills. But the excitement came during the last period where the 1s lined up against one another for about five minutes of live action.

The defense owned the battle forcing two Tuel incompletions and an interception to end the meeting. QB Jeff Tuel fired over the middle for WR Marquess Wilson, but CB Daniel Simmons had him covered. Simmons tipped the ball off Wilson's body for an interception and returned it for a 25-yard touchdown.

The play drew an enthusiastic response from defensive players and coaches.

"It's great especially now that we're closing in on game week," Hoffman-Ellis said. "The more plays we make leading up to the game, the more I think it will translate over for our defense."

The offense had some success earlier on in practice when Tuel was able to connect with WR Jared Karstetter for a pass that went about 40 yards. Tuel said following practice he can't wait to get out on the turf of Martin Stadium this Saturday and he's excited to show fans there's a new mindset in Pullman.

"We know we've improved as a group and individuals, now we've just got to go out there and show it," Tuel said. "I think we're all just chomping at the bit. We're just ready to go, we know we're better, and we just need to prove it."

Hoffman-Ellis, who is entering his last season in Pullman, said the excitement for the opener is palpable. He said the Cougars' no-contact practices this week drive him crazy.

"Linebackers are so antsy to get out there," Hoffman-Ellis said. "Even when we pass each other in school to the meeting room we're all fired up and yelling. Man, we're tired of this thud and ghost temp (explicative), we want it to be Saturday already so we can go live for 60 minutes."

AS FOR SPECIAL TEAMS, those concerned about the field-goal kicking for WSU would have been pleased Tuesday. Kicker Andrew Furney was a perfect 6-for-6 on his attempts early in practice and also knocked in back-to-back boots during the final period of practice.

Backup kicker Alex Gauper also enjoyed a solid performance as he converted all three of his attempts. Long-snapper Zach Koepp also had no problem snapping balls to holder Dan Wagner.

  • DE Jordan Pu'u Robinson was suited up for practice, but he didn't participate in any of the live action. He was seen with ice on his right knee.

  • TE Andrei Lintz continues to make plays for the offense. He had a brilliant diving catch in traffic from QB Connor Halliday with the 2s.

    QB: Jeff Tuel
    X receiver: Marquess Wilson
    Flanker: Isiah Barton
    Z receiver: Jared Karstetter
    TE Andrei Lintz
    LT: David Gonzales
    LG: John Fullington
    C: Andrew Roxas
    RG: B.J. Guerra
    RT: Wade Jacobson
    RB: Logwone Mitz (Rickey Galvin and Carl Winston also saw substantial action)
    LE: Adam Coerper
    LT: Toni Pole
    RT: Anthony Laurenzi
    RE: Lenard Williams
    SAM: Sekope Kaufusi
    MIKE: C.J. Mizell
    WILL: Alex Hoffman-Ellis
    CB: Daniel Simmons (Nolan Washington also getting plenty of reps)
    SS: Deone Bucannon
    FS: Tyree Toomer (Note: Casey Locker also seeing action running with the 1s)
    CB: Damante Horton

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