PRACTICE REPORT: Defense, Bucannon dominate

PULLMAN -- There was a turnover explosion on the Palouse Wednesday with the Cougars defense having arguably their best day since fall camp started back in early August. Safety Deone Bucannon led the charge with two interceptions and told CF.C the defense's success is largely because of the coaching staff pushing them to the next level.

The defense started quickly Wednesday and the outpouring of forced turnovers began on the first play -- cornerback Damante Horton intercepted starting quarterback Marshall Lobbestael, who was trying to find WR Bobby Ratliff.

Following the interception, the 2s came in and QB Conner Halliday was nearly intercepted by safety Jordan Simone. On the next play, Halliday looked for WR Henry Eaddy, but the ball bounced off the speedster's finger tips and MLB Mike Ledgerwood was in the right place to haul in the second interception of the afternoon.

The team then moved to position drills for the majority of practice. Later, Bucannon had two interceptions in the final 20 minutes of practice, both of them coming off Halliday. Both throws came on deep tosses downfield.

"We've had a lot of meetings about finishing and we need to show it at practice if it's going to show up in the game," Bucannon said. "We make plays even when we're gassed and the defense has really stepped it up and that's what coach (Chris) Ball and coach (Jody) Sears have been telling us to do, just play hard every play."

THE D RECORDED five turnovers, with Simone intercepting Halliday on the third to last play of practice. On the final play, with the 1s lined up against the 1s, the defense ended their phenomenal day when starting MLB C.J. Mizell shot the gap and lowered his shoulder into RB Carl Winston at the 3-yard line preventing him from scoring.

Mizell also added the hit of the day when RB Marcus Mason caught a pass and sprinted upfield. But Mizell's shoulder plowed Mason into the turn and led to an emphatic celebration by the defense, though it was still a good gain.

"We're definitely responding and we needed the coaches to tell us that," Bucannon said. "I feel the more he (Wulff) pushes us, the more we will respond to it because we want to make our coaches happy. We're going to continue to get better in the fourth quarter so we can ultimately win games."

SINCE SATURDAY'S LOSS at San Diego State, where the Cougars allowed 21 fourth-quarter points in a 42-24 loss, Wulff has stressed the need for improved play in the final period. Coaches have pushed players to finish each of the two-hour pratices strong and Wulff said he is pleased with how they have responded.

"We're progressing and we have to get better, but the last two days have been solid practices," Wulff said. "I've been happy with that, but we have to continue to evolve as a team and keep growing.

"Championship teams I've coached and teams I've played on had that ability. It's got to be a part of the culture of a program. You have to finish strong when you're at the end of the day and the only way you can do that is if you work on it almost every day."

Meanwhile, the offense struggled to develop much of a rhythm throughout practice. But the offensive line was able to provide solid protection, including center Matt Goetz, who again ran with the 1s. Goetz is transitioning from playing guard. Starting center Andrew Roxas was out injured for SDSU and Taylor Meighen took his place. Goetz seems to be making the most of his opportunities this week.

"He's a big, rangy, athletic guy who's got great balance," Wulff said. "He's definitely got a chance to do very well at the position. He's playing real well and he's showing signs of it."

  • As expected during a bye week, there were several Cougs missing time including CB Daniel Simmons (knee), RB Rickey Galvin (concussion), S Casey Locker (infection), LB Sekope Kaufusi (thumb) and DT Anthony Laurenzi (sick).

  • QB Jeff Tuel participated in throwing drills for the second straight day and continues to fire away with plenty of zip. Tuel had his left shoulder iced at the end of practice again and is not participating in any of the live drills.

  • True Freshman Logan Mayes saw plenty of action running with the 2s on Wednesday and showcased some speed off the edge. Mayes was putting solid pressure on Halliday and worked well against the second-string offensive line.

  • Fellow true freshman TE Mansel Simmons, who suffered a subluxed kneecap a few weeks ago, returned to practice and spent his day running with the scout team.

    QB: Marshall Lobbestael
    X receiver: Marquess Wilson
    Flanker: Isiah Barton
    Z receiver: Jared Karstetter
    TE Andrei Lintz
    LT: David Gonzales
    LG: John Fullington
    C: Matt Goetz
    RG: B.J. Guerra
    RT: Wade Jacobson
    RB: Carl Winston (Logwone Mitz also getting reps)
    LE: Lenard Williams
    LT: Toni Pole
    RT: Justin Clayton (Brandon Rankin also seeing reps)
    RE: Travis Long
    SAM: Cyrus Coen
    MIKE: C.J. Mizell
    WILL: Alex Hoffman-Ellis
    CB: Nolan Washington
    SS: Deone Bucannon
    FS: Tyree Toomer (Note: Anthony Carpenter also seeing action running with the 1s)
    CB: Damante Horton

  • Cougfan Top Stories