WSU FALL CAMP DAY 7: Cougs crank it up

PULLMAN -- The tenacity escalated at Rogers Field on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday carved through WSU's secondary before a goal line stand to end practice helped the defense to emerge victorious. The product of some back-and-forth 11-on-11 and a raucous environment had both sides buzzing by the end of the day.

"This is definitely the fastest defense we've had since I've been here," Halliday said after scorching the first-team secondary during team session. "It definitely stinks when you think about if we had LeAndre Daniels, Cory Mackay, (Anthony) Laurenzi, C.J. (Mizell) and Sekope (Kaufusi). If we had those five guys with the defense we have right now, in my opinion that's a top three defense in the Pac-12.

"Even without all those guys this defense looks really good right now."

The Ferris High graduate continued to try and push Tuel for his starting gig on Day 7 by completing deep passes to the freshman wide receivers.

The first came when he connected with Brett Bartolone down the sideline. Moments later, he launched another jump ball intended for wide receiver Gabe Marks some 40 yards down field. With cornerback Damante Horton blanketing him, Marks went airborne, securing the football before tumbling two yards into the end zone.

The highlight grab was just one in a long series of impressive plays made by Marks through his first week of fall camp.

HALLIDAY AND TUEL split reps evenly, each running with a lineup consisting of players from the first and second-team offense.

Tuel was especially sharp in skelly drills, looking off coverages numerous times before hitting his check downs for solid gains.

The defense finally responded from the brunt of the quarterback's aerial show during a competitive session of red zone drills.

Only Mike Leach threw in a twist.

WITH THE BALL placed inside the five-yard line, the offense received three chances to punch it into the end zone. If the defense held two out of three times, it was the victor. Should the offense score twice, then it would avoid the dreaded up-down drill.

The offense scored on the first play when Tuel, recently inserted back in with the No. 1 offense, found Bartolone uncovered in the end zone. The defense responded on the next snap when linebacker Travis Long bull-rushed two offensive linemen to pick up his first "sack" of the afternoon.

The momentum-shifting play sent the reserve defensive players lining the back of the end zone into a frenzy.

Tuel momentarily quieted the masses by threading a pass to Marquess Wilson just across the goal line, but cornerback Tracy Clark managed to jar the ball loose and Wilson couldn't hold on.

The play capped a spirited two-hour practice featuring a level of competition (and volume) that was the highest its been since fall camp began.

Meanwhile, safety Anthony Carpenter saw extensive time running with the starting unit in place of Tyree Toomer.

Carpenter said going nose-to-nose with an offense expected to be among the most explosive in the conference was invaluable. Perhaps, more importantly, he recovered from a blown coverage that allowed Bartolone to score on the first play of the red zone competition to help his defense record consecutive stops.

  • A physical first week of fall camp finally took its toll on a variety of projected starters and reserves. Inside receiver Andrei Lintz, receiver Kristoff Williams, cornerback Daniel Simmons, defensive lineman Destiny Vaeao, defensive end Adam Coerper and Pierson Villarrubia all rode the stationary bike for a majority of Wednesday's practice. None of the injuries appeared serious. In fact, Coerper likely welcomed a day of light workouts after spending most of Tuesday rotating between the "Leach Beach" and Martin Stadium's bleachers. Kalafitoni Pole sat out the practice, with Ioane Gauta taking his spot at nose tackle.

  • Leach didn't meet with reporters after practice.

  • Rickey Galvin continued to work with the inside receivers but was relatively quiet during the scrimmage.

  • Wide receiver Bobby Ratliff again produced consistently in one-on-one's, skelly and during the 11-on-11s. The highlight of his day came when he made a shoestring catch late in the team session.

  • Running back Marcus Mason might still be feeling the effects from his collision with safety Casey Locker tomorrow. The Ferndale product smashed into the sophomore running back moments after he caught the ball late in practice, forcing the day's only turnover by jarring the ball loose.

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