Fists fly on the field as Air Raid falls flat

PULLMAN – To say that things got a little testy on the field Wednesday would be an understatement. Skirmishes broke out throughout the afternoon, capped off by a full-fledged fistfight toward the end of scrimmage – just a day after the Cougars were chastised for relaxing too often in practice.

It seems that a dirty, rugged day of scrimmage is just what this team needed.

"It's about time somebody hit somebody around here," said Mike Leach, applauding the effort put forth on the afternoon.

To kick off practice, the first team offense and scout team defense took the field. On the very first play of the afternoon, sophomore Connor Halliday threw a quick slant route to junior Marquess Wilson – but that's not where the story ends.

The scout team defense came on a heavy zone blitz, sending David Bucannon through the gap. The freshman safety didn't make it very far; he was immediately flattened by senior running back Carl Winston. Bucannon and Winston tussled a bit, but were broken up when junior offensive lineman John Fullington grabbed Bucannon by the pads and threw the younger safety about eight feet.

A few more scraps and scuffles broke out across the field throughout the afternoon, bringing attitudes and emotions to a breaking point.

And then things exploded.

Freshman BUCK Kache Palacio and senior offensive lineman Taylor Meighen got locked up after a run play to the left side, prompting Palacio to tackle Meighen to the ground. While those two let it all out, freshman safety Feddie Davey tried to break it up – and ended up in fisticuffs with junior Matt Goetz. Despite being an underclassman, Davey taunted the much larger lineman throughout the altercation.

Coaches separated the two sides after what seemed like a full minute of brawling, and practice resumed.

As far as actual football goes, a few performances really stood out for the Cougars on the defensive side of the ball.

Just 24 hours after cornerback Alex Jackson had a highlight-reel kind of day, fellow freshman Rahmel Dockery seemed to do Jackson one better. Dockery batted down ball after ball, shutting down freshman Dominique Williams all afternoon. After an already impressive showing, Dockery capped the evening off by intercepting Halliday on a deep ball, simply out-jumping the taller Williams down the field.

The offense struggled all afternoon, showing no signs of promise to fans looking for a reason to think the Air Raid offense will click this week.

"We can't go out there with clouded minds," Leach said. "We have to go out there and play to the best of our ability. Regardless of whether it goes well or not, we need to go do it again."

Receivers dropped several balls throughout the afternoon, led by sophomore wideout Kristoff Williams, a guy still trying to find his play with the receiving corps. Williams found himself doing up-downs repeatedly throughout practice, and from this chair, seemed to lack hustle.

On the bright side, Halliday threw a crisp ball and seemed to better understand the cover schemes he was looking at for most of the afternoon.

"He's done a lot of good things, but he has a long ways to go, like everybody," Leach said.

The offensive line struggled for a majority of the afternoon, and coach Clay McGuire wasn't shy about voicing his displeasure.

Whether all the volatility will make a difference Saturday remains to be seen. Washington State takes on California at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Pullman.

Notable note:
  • As first reported by Howie Stalwick in the Kitsap Sun, DL Lenard Williams has left the program. Williams arrived at WSU in 2011 out of Iowa Western JC. As WSU moved to the 3-4 this season, the 6-2, 253-pounder was never able to crack the two deeps in fall camp despite a number of injuries up and down the line, nor over the first part of the 2012 season.

    Running with the 1's for the scrimmage
    OFFENSE
    LT- Gunnar Eklund (Zach Brevick got some time)
    LG- John Fullington (Goetz got some time)
    C- Elliott Bosch (Meighen got some time)
    RG- Jake Rodgers (Goetz got some time)
    RT- Wade Jacobson (Brevick got some time)
    QB – Connor Halliday (Jeff Tuel got some time)
    RB –Teondray Caldwell/Marcus Mason/Carl Winston/Leon Brooks
    X-WR – Marquess Wilson (Dominique Williams got some snaps)
    Y-WR – Brett Bartolone (Gino Simone got some time)
    Z-WR – Isiah Myers (Bennett Bontemps got some snaps)
    H-WR – Gino Simone and Gabe Marks split reps

    DEFENSE
    LT- Matthew Bock
    NT- Xavier Cooper
    RT- Ioane Gauta (Steven Hoffart got some snaps)
    BUCK- Travis Long (Logan Mayes got some time)
    SAM- Cyrus Coen
    MIKE- Darryl Monroe
    WILL- Justin Sagote
    CB- Damante Horton
    CB –Daniel Simmons
    FS- Casey Locker
    SS- Deone Bucannon

    SPECIAL TEAMS
    LS - Alex Den Bleyker
    P - Mike Bowlin
    KO - Bowlin/Andrew Furney rotation
    FG - Furney
    KR - Marquess Wilson, Rahmel Dockery, and Brett Bartolone
    PR - Brett Bartolone (Dockery got some snaps)

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