WSU PRACTICE: Tuel, offense on the move

PULLMAN–The Cougs may have taken a depth hit to the secondary as a freshman has not been cleared, Mike Breske said, though it might be temporary. A key d-lineman continues to progress with an eye towards reclaiming a starting job but another DL has taken his spot in the walking-boot brigade. And an o-lineman might be cleaning sand out of his shoes for about a week after a visit to the Leach Beach.

Defensive coordinator Mike Breske said Wednesday that true freshman cornerback Alex Jackson has not been cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center. Breske offered no further details, and WSU usually does not talk about matters they consider to be internal to the program.

A source who asked to remain unidentified told CF.C several potential outcomes remain in play on Jackson, including clearance or being deemed a partial qualifier. In other words, it's too soon to tell. Jackson had been practicing up until just recently, and it seems late in the game for the NCAA to apparently have raised a red flag, particularly with classes having started at WSU back on Aug. 20. Jackson had been moved from receiver to corner earlier in fall camp.

On the other side of the ball, the offense looked effective all afternoon and moving the ball with ease.

"It was a pretty good practice, really," Mike Leach said. "We've had good practices, we just need to do it in the game."

Jeff Tuel did it all Wednesday and looked sharp doing it. Any issues he had against BYU (quicker reads, for example, was one thing Leach has mentioned this week) were not in evidence on Wednesday.

NOT EVERYTHING WAS sunshine and daisies with Leach on Thursday though.

On multiple occasions, offensive lineman Matt Goetz committed false starts. This eventually prompted a fired up Leach to consign the former starter to the sand pit -- not a good for a guy looking to fight his way back into the starting lineup.

Further, Goetz didn't help himself once there, occasionally sitting and playing in the sand instead of performing his punishment. That did not go unnoticed by Leach, and two strength coaches were dispatched who ensured it was all work and no play from then on.

ON THE DEFENSIVE side of the ball, freshman nose tackle Xavier Cooper returned to full strength after partially participating in recent days. Cooper, who ran with the 2s on Wednesday both out on the edge and at the nose, was playing at the nose before he got hurt. But he had been listed on the depth chart as the starter at the right tackle spot on the d-line, a position now held by Steven Hoffart.

At nose tackle, if the first game's form holds true for the Cougs, Ioane Gauta and Toni Pole looked to have Wazzu in pretty good shape (though from this chair, Pole's size and skills set are such that he could also be used out on the end.)

"(Gauta) had a great game -- battle tested," Breske said. "The line of scrimmage did not move per se. I thought we were very physical up front and he's been a great addition."

Cooper's potential return would certainly help shore up the d-line but the Cougs seem to have lost another hogmollie, though one further down the depth chart. Freshman David Davis was wearing a boot on Wednesday similar to the one Cooper sported virtually all camp. Leach does not discuss injuries.

Breske seems partial to the young defense he has inherited and when I asked him about how the young linebacking corps was faring in a complex defense, redshirt freshman Darryl Monroe was the guy who sprang to mind.

"I think (Monroe) is a great leader," Breske said. "He gets a lot of our guys lined up, he just need more reps with his game experience."

The starting strongside linebacker usually lining up next to Monroe, junior Eric Oertel, did not run with the 1s on Wednesday and was instead replaced by sophomore Cyrus Coen. The Wisconsin native and former running back was banged up through much of fall camp, and has also been called a ‘vocal leader' in the past by Breske. Whether Wednesday signified a shift or just getting Coen some more reps with the 1s remains to be seen.

AS FAR AS motivating his players for the tilt against Eastern Washington on Saturday, Leach said he didn't think it was necessary.

When asked whether the Huskies' use of a live tiger in a cage to pump up their players at practice this week was a good idea, you just knew a Leach quip was coming.

"Well, I think it'd be impressive if they let that tiger out of the cage," Leach said. "Or the other thing that they could have done is they could have stuck a husky (dog) in there with that tiger and let that husky outduel that tiger inside that cage and let it send a message to everyone."

When asked whether he'd put his money on a husky or a tiger, Leach took a pass.

"I think I'd put my money on the same animal everyone else would," Leach said.

--Junior linebacker Darren Markle did not participate.
--Freshman linebacker Darryl Paulo did not participate
--Junior Corner Damante Horton participated all afternoon and has switched to a left arm sleeve, losing the cast and brace.
--Senior center Taylor Meighen was not in pads and did not practice

Running with the 1's for the scrimmage:

LT- John Fullington
LG- Jake Rodgers
C- Elliott Bosch
RG- Dan Spitz
RT- Wade Jacobson
QB – Jeff Tuel
RB – Carl Winston/Teondray Caldwell/Leon Brooks
X-WR – Marquess Wilson (Dominique Williams got some time)
Y-WR – Andrei Lintz (Brett Bartolone got some time)
Z-WR – Gabe Marks and Isiah Myers
H-WR – Rickey Galvin

LT- Matthew Bock
NT- Ioane Gauta -- Cooper ran with the 2's at both the tackle and nose
RT- Steven Hoffart
BUCK- Travis Long
SAM- Cyrus Coen
MIKE- Darryl Monroe
WILL- Chester Sua
CB- Damante Horton, Daniel Simmons
CB – Tracy Clark, Nolan Washington
FS- Taylor Taliulu
SS- Deone Bucannon

LS - Alex Den Bleyker
P - Mike Bowlin
KO - Bowlin/Andrew Furney rotation
FG - Furney
KR - Leon Brooks
PR - Leon Brooks

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