DAY 8 PART II: Practice Report

PULLMAN — Washington State coach Mike Leach often has warned not to make early judgments on potential impact freshman. But that increasingly is becoming difficult with newcomer Gabe Marks, who again made the case during Thursday afternoon's practice for immediate playing time at wide receiver. Meanwhile, redshirt sophomore Rickey Galvin continued to thrive as he transitions to wide receiver.

It's evident through eight days of fall camp that Marks is the type of brash, trash-talking on-field personality that will drive cornerbacks and safeties nuts. On Thursday, he caught a pass on the right sideline near the first-down marker during the team scrimmage in Martin Stadium. Marks quickly popped up and began talking.

His rhetoric did not go unnoticed as cornerback Nolan Washington and his defensive peers dominated the practice.

Marks' confidence presumably developed from consistently beating defenders during one-on-one drills. He had perhaps the highlight of the afternoon when he made a one-handed grab against tight coverage by classmate Raymond Ford. Marks was savvy enough to drag both feet on the play, which came in the back corner of the end zone, to secure the touchdown.

HE WAS NOT the Cougars' only player thriving at the position. Leach raved about Galvin's transition to the slot for the third consecutive day.

"I think he's done good," Leach said. "He goes in the slot and within two days he has the ability. At the line of scrimmage — to set up his release he can do things in two days that you spend a lot of weeks getting (other) guys to do. He can use his body on catches. He's always had good hands."

Galvin juked linebacker Taylor Taliulu with an explosive cut downfield before hauling in a grab on the run during one-on-one drills early in practice. According to Leach, Galvin's inherent running skills aren't teachable.

"He naturally bursts out of his cuts really good and the thing that has been most impressive, I think, is how quickly he's picked up his assignments," Leach said. "Generally, what you're seeing out there — we call a play and he lines up and runs it. I've been impressed with that. He's picked it up pretty quickly. He's a pretty smart guy."

Leach said the play of his stable of running backs allowed him to make the switch.

"They've played pretty well," he said of Theron West, Teondray Caldwell and Carl Winston. "They're pretty interchangeable. They've really developed their cuts well. And, they have good ball skills. In particular, one thing that's impressed me is how well they've blocked up to this point."

QUARTERBACKS DISAPPOINT:
  • While the speedsters impressed, the quarterbacks failed to draw any praise. Leach's frustration with his signal callers began during a drill in which quarterbacks Jeff Tuel, Connor Halliday, David Gilbertson, Cody Clements, Austin Apodoca and Connor Johnson couldn't hit a trash can placed in the back of the end zone.

    After numerous fade throws missed the target, Leach implored his signal-callers to loft the ball higher and higher until they landed in the bin. Halliday finally banged one in before Leach halted the drill after some colorful instruction.

    The conclusion of position drills gave the Cougars the opportunity to move the rest of practice into Martin Stadium for the second time this week. Assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Eric Russell spent the next 15 minutes working on punt coverage while Galvin served primarily as the lead returner.

    Then came the ill-fated scrimmage.

    The action actually started innocently enough, with Halliday connecting on a pair of touchdown passes to Gino Simone and Bennett Bontemps, both of whom are competing for one open wide receiver spot. In addition to the receivers, Winston also showed good burst around the outside before punishing defenders in his typical bruising style.

    From there, the offense, outside of a couple short receptions to Simone, failed to gain any sort of tempo. Leach wasn't shy to assess blame for his offense's lack of production.

    Heard by everyone in the stadium, Leach expressed his displeasure with the offensive line's high pad level. Receivers were dropping too many balls and the team's effort was lacking according to the head man, as well.

    Leach said there is no need to panic, though.

    "Really it was just today," he said, when asked whether he's seen a lack of effort throughout the last week. "We're not going to ignore today and then have to address it a month from now. I think it was everybody. We dropped more balls than we probably should and then I think we're inconsistent up front."

    Leach said Thursday's performance came as little surprise to him. In his view, players almost always need a little urgent instruction during the course of fall camp.

    "I've never been a part of the camp and I don't know anybody that doesn't work on and address effort at some point in time," he said. "So, today's our day. If we need to address it tomorrow we will cause you're not going to be any good unless you have great effort."

    LEACH BOBBLEHEAD DAY
  • WSU will unleash a Mike Leach Bobblehead for the Oct. 13 home game against Cal. While Leach wasn't cheery after practice, he did take the time to weigh in on what it will be like to see a miniature version of himself.

    "Shoot, I guess other people have been subjected to being a bobblehead, so I guess it's my turn," he said. "I heard it as a rumor a while back and thought, ‘Nah, you gotta be kidding me.' And then I forgot about it before someone sent me a text picture of it."

    Running with the 1s on Day 8:
    OFFENSE
    LT- John Fullington
    LG- Matt Goetz
    C- Elliott Bosch
    RG- Jake Rodgers
    RT- Dan Spitz

    DEFENSE
    LT- Matthew Bock
    NT- Ioane Gauta
    RT- Steven Hoffart
    BUCK- Travis Long
    SAM- Cyrus Coen
    MIKE- Darryl Monroe
    WILL- Chester Sua
    CB- Daniel Simmons and Damante Horton
    FS- Tyree Toomer
    SS- Deone Bucannon

    Note: Leach's practice structure has left it unclear as to who the starting wide receivers are outside of Marquess Wilson (X-Receiver) and Andrei Lintz (Y-Receiver). Every day the team has done some 11-on-11 work, Leach, unlike most coaches, opts to shuffle through his corps of playmakers by mixing up the two offensive units with starters and reserves.

    The offensive line picture has been more stable. Taylor Meighen has also gotten in a decent amount of work at center, Goetz has been in there at both left guard and center. The last few days, Bosch has been getting a longer look.


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