DAY 15: Cougar defense sets the tone

PULLMAN— After a tough showing during Friday's scrimmage, the Cougar defense bounced back in a big way during Saturday's session. Indeed, Mike Breske's unit owned the day. Meanwhile on the other side of the ball, freshman signal caller Austin Apodaca was a bright spot for the offense, firing three touchdowns on Day 15.

It was clear on Saturday that the defensive unit was not happy with the way they performed on Friday. The second the players set foot on the gridiron, you could tell they were fired up and defensive coordinator Mike Breske fueled that charge.

Breske had his group moving their feet at all times and sprinting up to the line of scrimmage -- in addition, the D even performed plenty of "up-downs" before each play.

If Breske's intention was to fire up his guys, it worked.

The defense reigned, making multiple big plays. On the first snap of 7-on-7 action, redshirt sophomore linebacker Darryl Monroe started things off with an excellent diving pass breakup. Freshman wide receiver River Cracraft appeared to be open, but Monroe sprinted full speed up to catch up to the true frosh and leaped full-extension to swat the ball to the ground.

Against the first-team offense, safety Deone Bucannon joined in on the fun. The senior safety had two interceptions off quarterback Connor Halliday during 11-on-11 drills.

Sophomore BUCK LB Destiny Vaeao "sacked" Halliday on the opening drive during team session for a loss of eight yards.

Shortly after, fellow sophomore Darryl Paulo, working with the 2s, shot off the edge untouched for another "sack" on Halliday. The play resulted in a six-yard loss.

OVER ON OFFENSE Halliday finished with two interceptions and did not toss a touchdown on the day. Freshman QB Austin Apodaca enjoyed a strong day during 7-on-7 skelly action.

The highlight of Apodaca's day came when he rolled right and tossed an off-balanced throw to the opposite side of the field to junior WR Isiah Myers for a 25-yard TD.

Apodaca also connected with junior WR Kristoff Williams for a 25-yard strike to finish 7-on-7s. During 11-on-11 work, Apodaca tossed one TD to sophomore WR Brett Bartolone on a 10-yard slant.

THE RUNNING BACKS struggled to get into a rhythm during Friday's scrimmage, totalling only 38 yards on the day. The group has been hard at work throughout camp, though, and RBs coach Jim Mastro said he is excited with the progression from last year.

"There is no hesitation, these guys know where they are going and why they are getting there," Mastro said. "It has been a light year's difference from a year ago."

Mastro said that the RB position is wide open but the three primary candidates right now are clear-cut: Teondray Caldwell, Marcus Mason and walk-on Jeremiah Laufasa. Mastro said the three are making a strong push.

Mastro added that Laufasa, a walk on who has added a little thunder to the Cougars' backfield in camp, will be a great asset in short yardage and goal-line situations in 2013.

As for Caldwell, the stout back has provided an extra layer of protection for the QBs during fall camp. He's also showcased great hands.

"I can block and I can catch the ball out of the back field like a receiver," Caldwell said. "If they need me out there at receiver, they can always throw me out there."

ON SPECIAL TEAMS the hit of the day came during kickoffs. Junior walk on safety Mitchell Peterson sprinted downfield delivering a huge stick on freshman WR Robert Lewis as he returned a kick.

The gunners working on the first-team kickoff squad were freshman CB Daquawn Brown and senior CB Nolan Washington. Players who rotated in at kick returner were Lewis, freshman CB Alex Jackson, and junior Rickey Galvin.

Senior kicker Andrew Furney improved his accuracy after yesterday's poor and out-of-character performance. Furney nailed four of five kicks, from 49, 38, 35, and 30 yards out. He missed from 43 yards.

Running with the 1s

QB– Connor Halliday
RB – Teondray Caldwell and Marcus Mason (Jeremiah Laufasa received some reps as well)
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

DE- Toni Pole
NT- Ioane Gauta
DE- Xavier Cooper
BUCK- Destiny Vaeao
MIKE- Darryl Monroe
SAM- Eric Oertel
CB- Nolan Washington
CB – Daquawn Brown
S – Deone Bucannon
S – Anthony Carpenter

Limited Players:
S Paris Taylor
WR Tyler Baker
LB Austin Rapp
S Bennett Bontemps
CB Damante Horton
S Casey Locker (street clothes)

Not in attendance:
OL Matt Meyer
LB Chester Sua
S Darius Lemora
DL Paulo Lepua
S Bennett Bontemps

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