SPRING BALL DAY 15: The finale

PULLMAN -- It took little time for defensive line coach Joe Salave'a to ensure that the final session of spring would be intense. With Travis Long lining up against Logan Mayes in the team's "Oklahoma" drill just minutes into practice, the former Washington Redskins defensive tackle couldn't contain his excitement. And he was just getting warmed up.

After a fierce one-on-one battle between the pair of BUCK linebackers with the entire team circled around them, Salave'a ripped off his shirt, exposing his 300-plus pound frame as he jumped up and down to show his appreciation. The surprising display of girth helped set the tone as the Cougs most assuredly avoided a post-spring game malaise.

Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday also helped start a fast-paced two-and-a-half-hour practice by looking very sharp in Leach's throwing drills. For the first time this spring, Halliday looked nearly 100 percent. His passes finally appeared to have a zip similar to what fans saw in last year's 37-27 Dad's Weekend victory over Arizona State.

Meanwhile, Tuel picked up where he left off in Saturday's Spring Game, easily completing over 95 percent of his passes to wide receivers running defenseless routes.

The work Halliday and Tuel would see early on made up a majority of their reps as Leach made a point to line the 2's and 3's up against each other during the scrimmage portion of practice. He also had one other point to make.

"During the season on Thursday's we call (that) Thursday night football…" Leach said when asked about giving more time to his back-ups for the final spring session. "After our work on Thursday (during the season) we generally go about 30 plays to give them good work. "Of course, during the bowl week they'll work every day."

THE INCREASED REPS for the 2's and 3's also allowed a player that has shown flashes of promise all spring to step up. Hawaii walk-on transfer Drew Loftus, a Kennewick. product, made a variety of highlight grabs from his outside wide receiver position.

The first came during a session focusing on the red zone offense. In the drill, Tuel dropped back to pass, lofting a beautiful fade towards the pylon in the corner of the end zone. Loftus gained outside position, leapt in the air and brought down the reception in time to drag his left toe across along the back corner of the end zone.

That catch and another sliding 40-yard reception from Halliday later in practice caught the head man's attention.

"When he first got out here and he was fresh he played really well," Leach said about the early part of Loftus's spring. "I do think his best days are ahead of him. About two-thirds of the way through (spring) it looked to me like he wore out a little bit."

TUESDAY'S PRACTICE marked the end of a spring session Leach said he wished could have gone on longer. As voluntary summer workouts loom in the coming weeks, Leach capped off a spring full of quotable opinions with a complaint directed toward the NCAA's rule to not allow player-coach interaction during the summer.

"I've always thought it's kind of funny- the NCAA's point of view," he said. "Kids are most likely to get in trouble, get distracted and make bad decisions during the summer. And then as coaches you're incredibly restricted as far as the contact and supervision you're allowed to have. That's kind of a contradiction there."

Running with the 1's on Offense
Quarterback: Jeff Tuel
Running Back: Rickey Galvin / Carl Winston
Outside Receivers: Dominique Williams and Marques Wilson
Inside Receivers: Blair Bomber and Bobby Ratliff
Left Tackle: John Fullington
Left Guard: Zach Johnson
Center: Elliott Bosch
Right Guard: Dan Spitz
Right Tackle: Rico Forbes
Field Goals: Andrew Furney
Holder: David Gilbertson
Kickoff Returner: Blair Bomber

Running with the 1's on Defense:
D-Ends: Matthew Bock and Xavier Cooper
Nose Tackle: Anthony Laurenzi
Buck Linebacker: Travis Long
Will Linebacker: Corey Laufasa
Mike Linebacker: Darren Markle
Sam Linebacker: Eric Oertel
Cornerbacks: Daniel Simmons and Damante Horton
Safeties: Anthony Carpenter and Deone Bucannon
Punter: Michael Bowlin
Punt Returner: Leon Brooks

A plethora of Cougs sat out on Tuesday. They did their routine workouts on the sideline while watching practice. Those missing included OL Matt Goetz, RB Teondray Caldwell, WR Henry Eaddy, WR Kristoff Williams, S Casey Locker, WR Henry Eaddy, DT Justin Clayton, CB Brandon Golden, CB Nolan Washington S Tyree Toomer, and LB Tana Pritchard. Sidelined a majority of the spring, walk-on OL Chas Sampson returned to practice.

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