SPRING BALL: Leach none too happy w/ offense

PULLMAN — Practice on Tuesday couldn't have started much worse for the Washington State offense. Dropped passes and wrong routes were on full display early, to the point that head coach Mike Leach was visibly upset. So upset, in fact, that for the second straight practice he stopped drills and ordered up some old fashioned discipline.

Indeed the first period of QB-to-WR drills was one to forget for the offense. "Run it again" was shouted out by Leach consistently and the unit didn't look sharp whatsoever. Things only got worse early on during 7-on-7s with focus not being displayed and dropped passes continuing.

Leach had finally seen enough and stopped practice for his team to perform 30 up-downs.

"I thought it sent the message," Leach said of stopping play. "You're out here to give great effort and preferably do it during the drill. If we have to teach effort and work, we'll get the effort one way or the other.

"We started the drills slow I thought and my impression was that both sides of the ball did because I could hear them (defense) on the other side too." The message Leach was trying to send apparently registered because the players picked up the tempo and intensity for the remainder of practice. QB Connor Halliday, who has missed most of the spring season, started the day off by tossing a 40-yard TD pass to Drew Loftus with corner Damante Horton in coverage.Jeff Tuel had another solid day and looked to be firing the ball with plenty of velocity.

If there was one thing that stood out for the offense on Tuesday, it had to be the play of the line. After allowing an embarrassing 12 sacks during Saturday's scrimmage, the hosses up front were in search of redemption.

The first team o-line, made up of LT John Fullington, LG Gunnar Eklund, C Matt Goetz, RG Dan Spitz, and RT Rico Forbes, did a much better job of protecting the quarterback, and opened up huge holes for Cougar backs. On one play, RB Leon Brooks flew through the middle of a hole built for a semi-truck, and scampered for a 40-yard TD run.

Brooks added another 40-yard TD late in practice when he caught a screen pass from Tuel and danced his way upfield and evade defenders. Leach praised Brooks' play and added that he's "really been coming along."

"I thought our line did a good job," Leach said. "It's clear our line responded and did really well. There were a couple of runs where it would have been a 1-yard gain but they pushed the pile and it became five or six. The d-line was twisting, scratching, and clawing and they did some good stuff, too."

The line has gone through plenty of shifting this spring with guys moving from position to position. LT Fullington has shined in large part, and told CF.C that with all the movement the unit is finally starting to gel a little bit and to get a feel for where they will be lined up.

"I think everyone's doing pretty good with the schemes," Fullington said. "Being a lineman you have to know every position on the line so it's good for everyone to keep on rotating because that will make us that much better."

Another guy who enjoyed a solid day was RT Rico Forbes. With RT Jake Rodgers out with a foot injury, Forbes has jumped in with the 1s and taken advantage of his opportunity. On Tuesday Forbes was showing good foot work in pass protection, and was also firing off the ball in trying to open up holes for the RBs. Leach said he's taken note of Forbes performance but the biggest thing for the 6-6, 290-pounder to work on -- his consistency.

"He's got good feet and has a huge body," Leach said. "I'm not sure he realizes how good he can be. His best plays are good but it's when he does ¾'s of a play. We need to get him to where he plays his best every play."

Here's more from Leach:

As for the defense, they also made plays with CB Damante Horton continuing to impress. With Nolan Washington spending most of the spring doing light drills and in the sand pit, Horton has seen virtually all the action opposite CB Daniel Simmons and has done his best to be a human highlight reel. Horton had another interception on Tuesday, this time off Tuel who was trying to connect with WR Bobby Ratliff.

An intriguing matchup that has surfaced throughout practices -- Horton vs. receiver Marquess Wilson. Both have had victories over one another and there are times when Wilson will get the better against Horton. But Horton has also made plenty of plays against the All-America wideout candidate and has looked very impressive

"I just have to keep fighting and work on improving my technique," Horton said. "He's going to keep giving me battles and I'm going to give him battles."

Simmons has also been playing well and hauled in an interception off Halliday when he tried to hit WR Isiah Myers in traffic. The play came only a few moments after LB coach Jeff Choate preached out to the players to operate at a higher clip and play with more intensity.

At linebacker, SAM Eric Oertel had another productive day running with the 1s. Oertel had a monstrous hit during 11-on-11s when he drilled RB Marcus Mason. A few plays later, Oertel broke up a pass from Tuel to Bennett Bontemps when he dove full extension to bat it away.

Over on the defensive line, DE Adam Coerper returned to practice and jumped right back in with the 1s.

Coerper had missed about the last week with an undisclosed injury and spent his time on the bike and doing light drills. However Coerper was moving around with plenty of speed on Tuesday and seems to be just fine. With Coerper back in the line-up, DE Lenard Williams spent his day with the 2s.


  • Freshmen Denzell Dotson was at practice on Tuesday, two days after being arrested for suspicion of DUI. After practice Leach said his policy is to look at the situation and consider all of the facts. Leach also added that anything the team decides from a disciplinary standpoint will be held strictly within the team.

  • OL Joe Dahl, who had spent the entire spring on the bike and doing light drills on the side, went through his first practice on Tuesday going through drills with the offensive line. He transferred to WSU in January fromm Montana.

  • Myers saw some reps with the 1s on Tuesday and took advantage of his opportunity. Myers hauled in several passes from Tuel and showcased very dependable hands. Myers climbed the ladder on one ball that looked to sail on Tuel, and hauled it in for a 25-yard gain.

  • RB Rickey Galvin returned to practice and appeared to be a full participant. Galvin has been held out of a few practices with an undisclosed injury, but looked good on Tuesday. He had a 35-yard run against the 1s on defense, and would have had a TD run had safety Deone Bucannon not given up on the play.

  • There were still some players missing from action including, Matt Goetz, Jake Rodgers, Brandon Golden, Max Gama, and Darryl Paulo. Meanwhile Tyree Toomer, Jordan Pu'u-Robinson, Spencer Waseem, and Travion Smith weren't at practice. All have been battling injuries this spring.

  • DT Toni Pole was at practice with a white wrap/cast on his right hand. Pole went through the majority of drills with the team, but was held out of full contact.

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