PRACTICE: Tuel keeping things close to vest

PULLMAN -- While Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel played a limited role during Tuesday's practice, the junior said he simply was happy to be back on the gridiron. Also, CF.C checked in with defensive line coach Todd Howard on his unit and how they can contain the Bruins' powerful running game.

Similar to Monday, Tuel's live action was limited to only a few reps during the offenses 7-on-7 drill. Tuel did complete a 10-yard pass to WR Bobby Ratliff during the drill and he displayed accuracy during throwing drills. Tuel was again letting loose and was able to connect on some 40-45 yard passes that landed inside of a passing net.

"It's natural for me and I feel good out there," Tuel said. "I understand the offense, that's not a problem. It's just going out there and trusting myself and trusting my arm."

What's most noticeable about Tuel's throwing motion right now is that he's keeping his left arm close to his body, almost like a chicken wing. It's not preventing the junior signal-caller from being accurate with his throws, but it's clear that he's still progressing and is not 100 percent.

"It's just like anything," Tuel said. "If you sprain your ankle you're going to limp for a little bit and if you have shoulder surgery you're going to do things a little different until it's 100 percent. I think right now I'm just guarding it a little bit and once I feel more comfortable with it I'll gradually get back to myself."

Coach Paul Wulff has named Marshall Lobbestael as the starting QB for this Saturday, but didn't quite close the door on whether Tuel could see the field. Tuel said following practice that the opinions of doctors and how he feels will determine whether he plays.

AS FOR THE action on the field, the Cougars continued their preparations for UCLA with both the offense and defense having their moments. On defense, the line had a strong day during live action, but also during drills as well. It's common for the offensive line and defensive line to meet up during the week for 1-on-1 drills, and the defense had the advantage Tuesday.

Among those who shined was DE Travis Long, who constantly was putting spin moves or plowing his way through offensive linemen to reach another offensive lineman who was designated as a QB.

"I can't say enough good things about Travis Long," Howard said. "He's one of the smartest players I've ever coached and I've coached in the NFL and been coaching for 20 years."

A major focus for WSU this week on defense will be stopping the run as the Bruins' run game that features Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman. That duo has combined for 702 yards and six TDs.

"We just have to tackle well," Howard said. "Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman, they can run hard and make all the cuts and we have to make sure to be good tacklers."

As for Howard, it will mark his first return to the Rose Bowl after spending five years on the UCLA staff. Howard said he's excited to return and see some old faces, but just hope's his former colleagues aren't the ones doing the smiling after the final whistle.

"I was there five years and I have no animosity towards anybody," Howard said. "For the most part UCLA was good to me, we just didn't win enough games.

"I'm excited to go down there and have a chance to win in the Rose Bowl."

MEANWHILE, LOBBESTAEL HAD a productive day leading the offense against the first team and scout defense. The offensive line was doing a solid job of pass protection and also excelled in opening holes against the scout team for the RBs to take advantage of. Starting RT Wade Jacobson sat out the last part of practice because of a sore back. Redshirt freshman Jake Rodgers jumped in with the 1s in his absence.

At the center position, Matt Goetz saw most of the time running with the first team unit and Andrew Roxas competed with both the second team and first-team offense. Goetz started last week and did a fine job in his first career nod, while Roxas also saw plenty of action. CF.C will keep a close eye on the battle at center Wednesday and get insights from Wulff as to whom will start against UCLA.

Another player who enjoyed a solid practice was WR Isiah Barton, who sat out Monday night's session with an ankle injury. Barton jumped right back in with the 1s and the senior was catching passes from Lobbestael consistently throughout the afternoon.

Another starter who missed Monday's session was MLB C.J. Mizell (foot) and he jumped right back in with the 1s, as well. Mizell made his return obvious by leading the defense with his verbal chants which could be heard from all the way across the Rogers practice field.

NOTABLE NOTE:
  • For the second time this season toward the end of practice, the team joined together for a sprint drill focusing on timing and execution. The team had to run 10 perfect 10-yard sprints where they ran in unison playing close attention to the ball. The team executed perfectly, setting the tempo for the final 15 minutes of "team" drills with the first team matched up against the scout.

    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: Matt Goetz (Andrew Roxas also seeing reps)
    RG: B.J. Guerra
    RT: Wade Jacobson (Jake Rodgers also seeing reps)
    RB: Rickey Galvin (Carl Winston and Logwone Mitz also seeing action)
    DEFENSE
    LE: Lenard Williams
    LT: Toni Pole (Brandon Rankin also seeing reps)
    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: Casey Locker also seeing action running with the 1s)
    CB: Damante Horton (Daniel Simmons also seeing reps)

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