DAY 14 Notebook: Defense rules the day

PULLMAN -- The piped in crowd noise at Martin Stadium gave this scrimmage the feeling of many others throughout the years. Except the artificial crowd noise seemingly was not for the offense's accomplishments. At least that's what we can assume after that unit sputtered once again Thursday.

Aside from a 70-yard touchdown pass to Gabe Marks, be it absolutely sensational, the offense looked lethargic, failing to gain any momentum.

The Cougars practiced for only an hour Thursday, ending their day with a short 30-minute scrimmage. Senior quarterback Jeff Tuel once again played with the first team, but didn't do anything to supplant himself firmly as the starting quarterback. Neither did sophomore Connor Halliday, who threw some poor balls while running with the second team.

Tuel finished the day 7 of 12 for 123 yards and one touchdown. Most of Tuel's numbers came from a 20-yard crossing route to freshman phenom Gabe Marks. The flashy wide receiver took the short pass and made three defenders miss, taking it to the house for a 70-yard score.

Halliday entered toward the end of the scrimmage, completing 7 of 10 passes for 65 yards, including a touchdown and an interception. It is important to note that Halliday's lone touchdown came on a broken play, hitting junior wide-open wideout Bennett Bontemps over the middle for the score. Halliday's interception was a poorly thrown ball over the middle, right into the hands of sophomore linebacker Cyrus Coen.

Halliday was also picked off early on in practice by freshman Jeremiah Allison on a deep ball severely underthrown to senior Andrei Lintz.

THE DEFENSE CAME out Thursday in similar fashion as a day earlier, verbally and physically brutalizing the offense all morning.

Junior safety Deone Bucannon set the stage early in the scrimmage, hitting senior wideout Gino Simone hard enough to be heard around campus. Actually, Provo, Utah, may have been able to register the crack made when Bucannon slammed into Simone. The senior leader crossed the linebackers on a short drag route, catching the pass just past the line of scrimmage. Bucannon went full bore the whole way, colliding with Simone before he could turn his head.

The phrase, "they'll be scraping his teeth off the turf for a week" couldn't ring more true.

The hit drew cheers from some and gasps from others. Simone stayed down for a couple minutes, finally getting helped off the field with what looked to be a back injury. He was standing on the sidelines, but did not return.

Bucannon said he loved the hit, adding that it's exactly what the defense needed.

"When I get on the field, I want to make a play to get my teammates going," Bucannon said. "It was a great hit, but it was just one play; we need to get a bunch of great plays to ultimately win the game."

Coach Mike Leach echoed Bucannon's sentiment, adding that if you have the opportunity to make a big hit, pull the trigger.

"You want to hit hard? Hit hard," Leach said. "Did I think it was a good hit? Yeah. My sense is there was someone better to throw it to, but I thought it was a good play by whoever hit him."

No receivers or running backs had any noteworthy statistics on the day with the exception of Marks.

The defense had a good day getting to the quarterback as well, registering three sacks from a variety of angles. Sophomore pass-rushing specialist Logan Mayes got extensive time on the field, finally seeing the field alongside senior Travis Long.

"We've got a couple of formations out there where Travis and I can rush the quarterback together," Mayes said. "I think that's my biggest strength. I can cause havoc."

Mayes added that the tenacity shown this summer won't be short-lived, it's here to stay.

"Our defense is really young this year, so we're really motivated," Mayes said. "We are kind of a no-name group, so we all feel like we have something to prove."

  • Sophomore cornerback Brandon Golden was not in pads today and did not participate.

  • Sophomore wide receiver Isiah Myers was not suited up today and did not participate.

  • Junior linebacker Eric Oertel was not in pads today in did not participate.

  • Simone was injured during the scrimmage and did not return.

  • Coen appeared to have injured his right arm on the first couple plays of scrimmage, but did return.

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