SPRING DAY 3: Coug offense on the go

PULLMAN – The Cougs were out in full force Tuesday at practice, cracking shoulder pads for the first time this spring. Regardless of which quarterback was taking snaps, the offense worked well and won the day. Coaches also made some rotations with the 1's and 2's, heating up some of the biggest position battles for onlookers. That, the hits of the day and more…

Each and every coach at Washington State preaches competition -- it brings out the best in players. That was wholly apparent Tuesday when the Cougs hit the gridiron, donning shoulder pads for Day 3.

The coaches elected to give second-year freshman Kache Palacio the run at the BUCK position instead of standout Ivan McLennan, who ran the majority of the day with the second-team.

Elsewhere in the linebacking corps, sophomore Jeremiah Allison got most of the run at the SAM position instead of incumbent junior Cyrus Coen.

McLennan and Coen have been very solid over the first two days, but spring is also about looking at a number of players in different roles.

Thursday's session further emphasized the coaches' belief in performance by competition, something that's been apparent at virtually every position this spring.

THE WIDEOUT POSITION may be one of the most hotly contested positions of them all, involving numerous candidates for four starting spots. Still, returning X-receiver, third-year man Dominique Williams, may be seen as a shoe-in at the position this season.

Not so fast.

"He may be the clear favorite to you guys, but he's going to have to work," said outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons. "I told these guys at the beginning nothing is guaranteed. We've got some guys coming in this fall that will definitely be in the mix."

Simmons, surely speaking toward junior college transfer Vince Mayle, was quick to point out Williams is doing some very good things so far and expects him to be in the mix all the way through camp.

Simmons also said he hopes sophomore Gabe Marks can take another step forward in his progression of being one of the best receivers on the team.

"He's still a turkey," Simmons laughed with Marks in his ear. "No, he's doing well. I like that he wants the football. My wish is he keeps trying to elevate and take his game to the next level. He had a lull last season as a freshman as was expected."

Marks pretended to be visibly offended by being referred to as a Thanksgiving delicacy.

Williams echoed the sentiment from Simmons, preaching competition and visibly unwavering over the challenge given to make the starting rotation.

"I'm more comfortable," Williams said. "I have to keep pushing myself to be even better."

Williams also added having a quarterback competition in camp helps the squad develop a consistent rapport with both candidates.

"They both compete," Williams said. "I can't really pinpoint a weakness for either, they really both are great quarterbacks."

ON A MORE sobering front, Simmons said he hasn't had a chance to speak with third-year sophomore Mansel Simmons yet, hospitalized from a fight that took place this weekend with members of the University of Idaho football team. Simmons said he's been in contact with team trainers who have notified him the promising hybrid tight-end will need time to recover.

The athletic pass-catching prospect is expected back in Pullman this evening with his mother.

"Some players have been up there to see him," Simmons said. "Trainers have advised us that he needs to get some rest for the next couple days, so we're giving him some time and we're not going to bombard him with phone calls or anything."

Simmons had had a fast start to the spring session, getting some steady run with the second-team offense after working exclusively with the scout team in 2012.

ON THE FIELD, beautiful weather brought out the best in just about everyone this evening, showcased by some efficient play by both quarterbacks.

Junior Connor Halliday was good, but not great, connecting on all the easy throws, occasionally forcing a ball into a tight fit here and there.

Halliday threw one interception to senior linebacker Jared Byers on the day.

Second-year freshman Austin Apodaca looked much more comfortable Tuesday, showing more zip on his throws than in days past. Apodaca did not throw any interceptions in full squad scrimmaging, but I also wouldn't say he one-upped the incumbent Halliday on the day.

Halliday got roughly two-thirds of the snaps with the first team, and it seems safe to say it's Halliday's job to lose this spring at this point and time.

Two good cracks of the pads caught the attention of onlookers on day one of pads, though not from some of the players you may be accustomed to hearing from.

Hit No. 1 took place on a drill in which sophomore slot receiver Brett Bartolone caught a quick bubble screen and was almost immediately blown up by walk-on defensive back Michael Fields. Fields is only 5-7, 175, but could figure to get some run on special teams.

The second hit took place by a guy who has made his name known now in three straight practices. Redshirt junior walk-on Mitch Peterson continues to impress, blowing up Rickey Galvin on a short pass, breaking it up in the process. Peterson has two interceptions this spring, as well as a number of big plays to his name.

Here are the Cougs starting units for day three:

**Once again, extensive rotations took place throughout the entire afternoon and these 1's were fluid.

QB: Connor Halliday and Austin Apodaca
RB: Teondray Caldwell and Marcus Mason
X: Dominique Williams (Several rotations at each WR position)
Z: Kristoff Williams (Several rotations at each WR position)
Y: Brett Bartolone (Several rotations at each WR position)
H: Rickey Galvin (Several rotations at each WR position)
LT: Gunnar Eklund
LG: John Fullington
C: Elliott Bosch
RG: Matt Goetz
RT: Rico Forbes

LE: Matthew Bock
NT: Ioane Gauta
RE: Xavier Cooper
BUCK: Kache Palacio (Ivan McLennan got in a few turns as well)
SAM: Jeremiah Allison AND Cyrus Coen
MIKE: Darryl Monroe
WILL: Justin Sagote (Tana Pritchard got some run as well)
CB: Anthony Carpenter (Tracy Clark and Nolan Washington got some time)
FS: Casey Locker
SS: Deone Bucannon
CB: Damante Horton

KR: Leon Brooks, Robert Lewis, Brett Bartolone


• Redshirt freshman Robert Barber did not participate in contact drills, instead working with the conditioning coaches all afternoon and working on some individual drills with the defense.

The Cougs get tomorrow off, but will be back at it this Thursday in what is expected to be more Pullman sun.

• -Thursday, March 28 3 p.m.
• -Saturday, March 30 TBD
• -Tuesday, April 2 3 p.m.
• -Thursday, April 4 3 p.m.
• -Saturday, April 6 TBD
• -Tuesday, April 9 3 p.m.
• -Thursday, April 11 3 p.m.
• -Saturday, April 13 TBD
• -Tuesday, April 16 3 p.m.
• -Thursday, April 18 3 p.m.
• -Saturday, April 20 2 p.m. (Crimson and Gray Game, Spokane)
• -Tuesday, April 23 3 p.m.

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