PRACTICE REPORT: Fourth quarter focus

PULLMAN -- The Cougars have not forgotten about their fourth-quarter meltdown Sept. 17 at San Diego State. Late-game execution was again the focus to close out practice and coach Paul Wulff brought back an old drill Tuesday to ensure his players are ready to go if and when the game is on the line late.

The nightmares from the 42-24 loss at SDSU remain and the coaching staff have done everything in their power to instill a live-or-die mentality in their players. Before the final period of team drills, Wulff had his players run 10-yard gassers for more than five minutes.

That might sound easy, but the sprints were focused on mental strength. The offense and defense had to be on cue in their sprints and finish the entire 10 yards. The players had to complete 10 sprints total, but there were a couple of times where the team had to start over because either a player didn't run through the line, or the team wasn't together.

"It was tough," Starting DT Toni Pole said. "There were some mistakes here and there but those are the mistakes we're going to have to limit when we want to execute in the fourth quarter. We had to run perfect sprints and go right into team (drill) and mentally it was tough, but our coaches got into our head and reminded us we don't want to lose again."

"I think we did OK," QB Marshall Lobbestael said. "That was something new we haven't done in a few years and I thought we handled it well for the first day. We had a few where we had to start over, but I thought we did a good job of handling adversity."

For Pole, he admitted the drill was tough because he isn't the most conditioned player on the team. But he also told CF.C that he is committed to doing whatever needs to get done in order for the team to be successful and the SDSU outcome serves as motivation.

"I look back to that game and I can still remember that feeling losing," Pole said. "It was hurtful and tears were about to break out, but these are the types of things we're going to have to do if we want to execute in the fourth quarter."

FROM AN INJURY STANDPOINT, there were some changes on the offensive line yet again for position coach Steve Morton. RG B.J. Guerra sat out Tuesday's practice after suffering a stinger during Sunday's evening practice. Fortunately for the Cougs, starting center Andrew Roxas was able to return to practice and Matt Goetz, who had been playing at center, moved over to RG.

There were times in practice where Goetz was in at center, and during those series, sophomore Elliot Bosch jumped in with the 1s at RG. Even with the mix and matching on the offensive line, the unit did a solid job Tuesday in both their pass protection and with the ground game.

The Cougars also saw other players return Tuesday including CB Daniel Simmons (knee), WR Gino Simone (calf) and S Casey Locker (arm infection). All of those players saw the majority of their time running with the 2s.

As for the action on the field, the day couldn't have started worse for Lobbestael. On the first play of live action, Lobbestael was picked off by CB Damante Horton when the signal-caller was trying to connect with WR Marquess Wilson downfield.

Fortunately for the offense, it was the sole turnover of the afternoon and Lobbestael was efficient the rest of the way. Lobbestael was connecting with his WRs against both the starters and the scout team, and the ground game also had some success with RB Rickey Galvin leading the way.

"Offensively, I thought we were a little sloppy at times, but at the end we did a good job even though we were tired," Lobbestael said. "We're not where we need to be as for preparation on Saturday, so we need to come out and have a good day tomorrow."

As for the team's mindset heading into Saturday, Lobbestael told CF.C it's not all about what Colorado can do against them, rather how they can focus on themselves and their execution during the week.

"We just have to go and play our game," Lobbestael said. "It's about us and if we execute and play our game I feel like we're going to have a chance to compete in the fourth quarter and win. We just need to have a good practice and the only way we can compete on Saturday is if we prepare enough during the week."

QB: Marshall Lobbestael
X receiver: Marquess Wilson
Flanker: Isiah Barton
Z receiver: Jared Karstetter
TE Andrei Lintz
LT: David Gonzales
LG: John Fullington
C: Andrew Roxas (Matt Goetz also seeing reps)
RG: Matt Goetz (Elliot Bosch also seeing reps)
RT: Wade Jacobson
RB: Rickey Galvin (Carl Winston and Logwone Mitz also seeing action)
LE: Lenard Williams
LT: Toni Pole
RT: Anthony Laurenzi
RE: Travis Long
SAM: Sekope Kaufusi
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

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