SPRING BALL DAY 10: One of those days

PULLMAN — It was one of those days for the Cougars -- the 2-hour plus session out on Rogers Field on Thursday felt twice as long. The Cougs looked sluggish during the early stages of practice and although the tempo picked up late, head man Mike Leach said the lapses are something the young team can't afford.

The Cougars started out with 7-on-7s and execution on both offense and defense was as inconsistent as it could get.

On one play, QB Jeff Tuel would find an open receiver for a good gain. On the next play the offensive line would break down and Tuel would have to throw it away. On defense, they'd come up with a good stop. Right after that defensive coordinator Mike Breske would be left shaking his head because of a missed assignment.

It went essentially like that back and forth throughout practice. And although "one of those days" is something pretty much every team experiences in a spring/fall camp, and it's somewhat worth noting WSU hasn't had "one of those days" until now, Mike Leach wasn't having any of it. And he wants it cleaned up rapidly.

"There was good effort but the guys wore out and were sloppier than they should have been," Leach said. "We have to push through that because if we're able to push through it better than the guys down the road then you have more experience and better focus with adversity."

Here's more from Leach:

The practice did have some high points, as Eric Oertel and Bobby Ratliff explained.

A prime example of the defensive struggles came when they matched up against the scout team offense. QB Jesse Brown tossed a 40-yard TD pass to WR Daniel McDonald, who beat safety Deone Bucannon after he bit on a play fake. Just two plays later, Brown and McDonald connected on another 35-yard gain, this time CB Daniel Simmons committed the error.

Simmons was able to redeem himself a few plays later however when he intercepted Tuel who was trying to find Andrei Lintz in the back of the end zone. Simmons also added another interception while running with the 2s, when he out battled WR Isiah Myers for a deep ball thrown by QB David Gilbertson.

One distinct positive for the defense however was the play of CB Tracy Clark.

The redshirt sophomore dominated the portion of 1-on-1s in CBs against WRs, and was constantly getting praise from Breske and his defensive teammates.

Clark's positive play led to plenty of action with the 1s during 11-on-11s. There were times where Clark got beat, including a 6-yard TD pass from Tuel to WR Drew Loftus, but he was also getting better with each rep and looked sharp. Clark also took the role of vocal captain Thursday, constantly hooting and hollering with members of the offense. Clark and WR Isiah Myers were jawing back and forth, and Clark said he's enjoying every minute of it.

"I'm having a blast and that's what fuels my motor," Clark said. "Getting into a competitor's head and having them thinking about me more than I'm thinking about them.

"I ran with the 1s today and staying consistent is the biggest key. That will have me right there when September comes. Coach(Breske) tells me I'm getting better and he trust me a lot out there."

On the defensive line, DE Adam Coerper did not participate in practice and was doing light drills on the sidelines. With Coerper out, DE Lenard Williams jumped in with the 1s.

But late in practice, Williams appeared to suffer some sort of shoulder injury and did not return to the field. DE Matthew Bock jumped in with the starters for the remainder of practice. NT Kalafitoni Pole was also a spectator, and had a wrap on his right hand.

As usual, special teams were a focus throughout practice, and Mike Bowlin merits special mention.

First, Bowlin killed one punt during practice that was flirting with 65 yards. He kicked it from one end of the practice field to another, and drove returner Leon Brooks back at least 10 yards. In the three years I've been at practices, it was the best punt I've ever seen.

Bowlin looked like he averaged at least 45-50 yards on his punts the remainder of practice, and his hang time continues to be impressive. Bowlin also went 2-of-2 from his field goal attempts, connecting from 28 and 42-yard out.

K Andrew Furney, who has a good spring, went 2-of-3 on Thursday, connecting from 15 and 28, but missing from 42.

Punt returners included WR Blair Bomber, WR Rahmel Dockery, RB Rickey Galvin and RB Leon Brooks.

Others working on the sidelines included OL Jake Rodgers, OL Matt Goetz, OL Chas Sampson, DT David Davis, S Max Gama, RB Kruger Story, WR Henry Eaddy, WR Kristoff Williams and DE Darryl Paolo.

Players not present at practice included S Tyree Toomer, RG Dan Spitz, and CB Spencer Waseem.

Leach was asked after practice about former LB Sekope Kaufusi, and if his dropped charges would affect the possibility of him returning. "Anything like that, I certainly wouldn't discuss publicly," Leach said. "I'd discuss it with him. We don't talk about that publicly."

OL Wade Jacobson, who has been limited this spring recovering from off-season back surgery, saw some time with the 1s during 7-on-7s and drills at RG.

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