DAY 4: Hot tempers boil over for Cougs

LEWISTON -- Hot tempers made for a lively practice Monday afternoon for Washington State. Cougar players were involved in a number of scrums, shoving matches and profanity-laced screaming sessions. The WSU coaches got into the spirit of things, mixing in compliments for good plays with critiques that occasionally included more than a few words your mom never allowed at the dinner table.

It's all typical of preseason college football practice, of course, and Mike Leach and his players said they were pleased with the intensity.

"Really intense," Leach said. "It's a good first step. You need that level of intensity. The next step beyond that is to increase the intensity, but control your emotions."

The Cougars, abiding by NCAA rules, don't put on full pads until tomorrow's fifth practice. But things got plenty physical on occasion Monday with the Cougars in shoulder pads for the second day.

"I think of couple of those hits were a little questionable," linebacker Tana Pritchard said – but Pritchard and center Elliott Bosch said they see nothing wrong with tempers rising on occasion.

"That's good," Pritchard said. "We want that. It means we're getting better, we're competing. Every rep meant something to us. That's how it's got to be if we want to win. That's how the top schools do it, and that's what we're starting to do."

Bosch sported a grin when he said, "I think it's just getting to the point where everyone is just fed up with each other a little bit. It's like brothers fighting, being around each other too much."

Asked if he's ready for full contact today, Pritchard smiled and said, "Oh, completely ready. We've been kind of itching to put on all the pads and start hitting."

Pritchard, who picked off a pass each of the first three practices, failed to extend his streak to four interceptions in as many days, but cornerback Damante Horton picked off Austin Apodaca on a ball the second-year freshman quarterback left hanging in the air too long.

Horton lost his starting job to Anthony Carpenter at midseason last year, but Horton and fellow senior Nolan Washington have been playing corner with the No. 1 defense. Mike Breske, WSU's defensive coordinator and secondary coach, offered high praise to Horton and Washington after Day 4.

"Those two have kind of stepped away from the other cats (cornerbacks)," Breske said.

Carpenter, who moved from safety to cornerback during the 2012 season, was back with the safeties Monday.

"We're a little beat up there," Breske said.

ON THE OFFENSIVE side of the ball, Leach lauded the Monday efforts of Apodaca, true freshman wide receivers River Cracraft and Robert Lewis and junior wideout Isiah Myers.

And Breske had more kind words for true freshman cornerback Daquawn Brown, who recovered a Cracraft fumble.

Apodaca hit Myers with a touchdown pass late in practice in 11-on-11 play, and Myers made big gains on two nice passes from fourth-year junior Connor Halliday in earlier 7-on-7 drills.

Speedy Rickey Galvin hauled in a short slant from Apodaca and turned it into major yardage.

Leach, who seems to love to play up competition between starting candidates, said the quarterback job remains "up for grabs" between Halliday and Apodaca.

However, Halliday continues to take the first snaps with the starters, and the redshirt junior is the only quarterback on the roster who has played a down at the college level. After Halliday and Apodaca, the other four QB's are true freshmen.

THE COUGARS ARE expected to practice in Lewiston through Sunday for a total of 10 days. Leach said Halliday and Apodaca will continue to split reps evenly "probably the whole time here."

Kicker Andrew Furney sounds like he can't wait to leave Lewiston, a pleasant city that occasionally deals with stench from a local pulp mill. In a Sunday tweet, the colorful Furney wrote, "Lewiston ID smells like the seat on the airplane right next (sic) the bathroom, reeks just enough to make you puke in ur mouth a little."

Still, from the sounds of things, the Cougs have mostly enjoyed having less distractions to start camp. In addition to spending 2-3 hours on the Sacajawea Middle School practice fields each day (most players arrive early and leave late), players have meetings, meals, walk-throughs and occasional breaks spread out at Lewis-Clark State College from approximately 8 a.m. to right around "lights out time" at 11 p.m.

Breakfast is served from 7-8 a.m. at LCSC, where the Cougars are staying in dorms. Asked what time he sets his alarm for, Bosch smiled and said, "Six-fifty … I don't like to rush."

Running with the 1s
The starters on Monday remained the same, with the first team offense consisting of:
QB– Connor Halliday
RB – Teondray Caldwell and Marcus Mason X, H, Y, and Z receivers – Many players receiving reps
LT- Gunnar Eklund
LG- Joe Dahl
C- Elliott Bosch
RG- John Fullington
RT- Rico Forbes

First Team Defense:
DE- Toni Pole
NT- Ioane Gauta
DE- Xavier Cooper
BUCK- Destiny Vaeao
SAM- Tana Pritchard and Cyrus Coen
MIKE- Darryl Monroe
WILL- Tana Pritchard and Justin Sagote
CB- Nolan Washington
CB - Damante Horton

On Bikes:
S Paris Taylor
CB Rahmel Dockery
WR Tyler Baker

  • Freshman offensive lineman Matt Meyer and junior linebacker Chester Sua have not been seen on the practice field since fall camp began. The WSU coaches have declined to comment on their absence. Also not seen on Monday were DL Paulo Lepua and S Darius Lemora. Leach does not comment on injuries or return timetables.

    Check back a little later tonight for CF.C's second report from Lewiston...

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