DAY 14: Scrimmage "explosive, inconsistent"

PULLMAN -- THERE WERE EXPLOSIVE moments in Thursday's impromptu scrimmage, but not enough to keep Mike Leach from using the I-word: Inconsistent.

The offensive line struggled mightily as both sides traded blows during the day's grueling practice. In the end, Leach sounded noncommittal about his team's performance.

"It was explosive, inconsistent," he said. "I think we're mentally soft … We let fatigue set in a little bit. We did battle through it and we did some good things inconsistently on both sides, but I (was) encouraged overall."

The offensive line, which has performed steadily throughout fall camp, had one of its rougher days, capped by a pair of false-start penalties by tackles Jake Rodgers and John Fullington. The line also allowed BUCK specialist Travis Long to record a pair of "touch sacks" and a tackle for loss on the first two drives of the scrimmage.

When junior nose tackle Ioane Gauta busted through the line to record another sack on the following drive, Offensive Line coach Clay McGuire had seen enough.

McGuire stopped play and made the entire offense perform up-downs.

THE FATIGUED UNIT failed to gain any traction on the ensuing plays while attempting to recover.

Enter freshman phenom Gabe Marks.

On third-and-long, Jeff Tuel dropped back and hit his new favorite target streaking across the middle 15 yards downfield. Marks then broke free, exploding toward the left sideline with three men to beat. He managed to avoid the first two defenders before freshman safety Taylor Taliulu appeared to have him corralled.

Taliulu came up short in trying to make the tackle as Marks juked back to the inside and into the end zone for a 70-yard touchdown reception.

"He's very confident and plays hard every play," Leach said of Marks. "He expects to be successful. I think his confidence is huge and then I think he hustles to the point where he's always in a good position where if it's going to happen, it will happen."

Leach added that the freshman's level of determination is unmatched among many players at wide receiver.

"I think there's a lot of people who could make plays like that, but on the plays where it looks like it's over, they don't finish the play so they never get to that point," Leach said. "It's more like they luck into it. He works hard enough where he gets in a position where he's going to get loose on people because he's always in position if it's his time for it to happen."

THE TOUCHDOWN CAPPED the first-team offense's second drive. On their first possession, however, Tuel and Co. stalled just inside the red zone and had to settle for a 34-yard field goal from Andrew Furney. The advantageous field position was set up when Tuel connected with Rickey Galvin for a 31-yard gain.

The next two series belonged to Connor Halliday, who hit Bennett Bontemps across the middle for a 30-yard touchdown during the second-team offense's first possession. Halliday again entered the Defense's territory on the next drive, but was intercepted by Cyrus Coen to end what turned out to be a very brief scrimmage.

Notable Notes:
  • Freshman linebacker Jeremiah Allison saw a little action with the first-team defense when Cyrus Coen briefly left the scrimmage after getting shaken up.

  • Defensive coordinator Mike Breske cycled through an array of players on each defensive unit Thursday. However, most notably, defensive end Adam Coerper received extensive time running with the two's during the latter half of the scrimmage.

  • McGuire subbed out Matt Goetz for Dan Spitz for a handful of plays during the scrimmage, shifting Jacobson from right guard to left guard, and then putting Spitz at right tackle and Rodgers at right guard.

    Running with the 1's
    Offense
    QB- Jeff Tuel
    RB- Leon Brooks/Teondray Caldwell
    LT- John Fullington
    LG- Matt Goetz/Wade Jacobson
    C- Elliott Bosch
    RG- Wade Jacobson/Jake Rodgers
    RT- Jake Rodgers/Dan Spitz
    X WR- Marquess Wilson
    Y WR- Andrei Lintz
    H WR- Gino Simone
    Z WR- Gabe Marks

    Defense:
    LT- Matthew Bock
    NT- Ioane Gauta
    RT- Steven Hoffart
    BUCK- Travis Long
    SAM- Cyrus Coen
    WILL- Chester Sua
    MIKE- Darryl Monroe/Jared Byers
    SS- Deone Bucannon
    FS- Taylor Taliulu
    CB- Nolan Washington/Daniel Simmons
    CB- Damante Horton

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