PRACTICE REPORT: O-line buoyed by returns

PULLMAN -- Washington State coach Paul Wulff has stressed the importance of consistent offensive line play as the Cougars prepare for their Pac-12 opener this weekend at Colorado. Those efforts were buoyed Wednesday by the return of two linemen to practice.

Starting right guard B.J. Guerra (stinger) and starting center Andrew Roxas (ankle) were both full participants on Wednesday and saw plenty of action running with the first team.

Following practice, Wulff told CF.C that he expects both of his lineman to be ready to play Saturday against Colorado, and that he's been pleased with the progress of the line this week in practice.

There were instances where Matt Goetz would be in with the 1s and Taylor Meighen would line up at RG, but both spots appear to belong to Guerra and Roxas.

"There was some good stuff, but we're still cleaning some things up," Wulff said. "Overall though it was pretty good."

Guerra looked crisp in his return from his shoulder stinger and didn't show any signs of the injury slowing him down. For his part, Roxas saw much more action than he did during Tuesday's practice (first day back) and is snapping the ball at a consistent level to QB Marshall Lobbestael, and was doing a solid job reading his assignments.

THE NUMBER OF nicked-up Cougars now is minimal. Starting RB Rickey Galvin, who had been in a yellow no-contact jersey the last two sessions, went full throttle Wednesday and was wearing his crimson jersey with the rest of the starting offense. Galvin suffered a concussion in the San Diego State game, but has been cleared and will play this weekend.

Other than injuries, a concern for WSU the past few weeks has been some of the special teams work. Particularly, Wulff and special teams coach Dave Ungerer said that the kickoff coverage hasn't been consistent. The team spent a significant amount of time on special teams Wednesday and Ungerer told CF.C his unit is improving, but there's still some work that needs to be done.

"I think we're improving," Ungerer said. "I still don't think were totally satisfied, though. We've covered fairly well, but not at a consistent basis that I've been hoping for. We're totally not there, but probably around 90 percent there."

Andrew Furney and Alex Gauper both saw substantial action during kickoffs and the two were each finding success booting the ball deep. On the season, Furney has kicked off 17 times with an average of 59.1 yards, while Gauper has kicked off nine times for an average of 66.2 yards. Ungerer said Furney will handle kickoff duties Saturday.

"Andrew (Furney) will be our guy to start off, but I have a lot of confidence in Alex (Gauper) also," Ungerer said.

As for the action on the field, the offense dominated the defense during the final session. A major reason for this was the solid protection coming from the offensive line. This allowed Lobbestael to stay in the pocket and he took advantage consistently to close out practice.

The highlight was when Lobbestael connected on five straight completions, including the play of the day, which could have landed on ESPN's 10 p.m. broadcast. On the play, Lobbestael fired a pass that went at least 45 yards downfield for WR Jared Karstetter and CB Nolan Washington to battle for. Both Karstetter and Washington got their hands on the ball, but Karstetter was able to wrestle the ball from Washington as the two tumbled to the ground.

The offense finished off their victory over the defense on the final play of 11-on-11s when Lobbestael connected with FB Jared Byers, who sprinted into the end zone for his first TD of the fall.

The Cougars will have two walk through practices before heading off to Boulder, and Wulff told CF.C he's been pleased with the way the team has practiced this week, but it will all be for nothing unless they execute on Saturday.

"We're probably where we should be, but on game day we have to go out and play really well," Wulff said. "Taking a week off of the game has been good, but we have to come out firing and play sharp."

RUNNING WITH THE 1s
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: B.J. Guerra (Taylor Meighen also seeing reps)
RT: Wade Jacobson
RB: Rickey Galvin (Carl Winston and Logwone Mitz also seeing action)
DEFENSE
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 (Daniel Simmons also seeing reps)

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