PRACTICE REPORT: Wazzu DL makes some noise

PULLMAN — Practice started off slow, but finished on a high note for the Cougs on Wednesday. On D, there was good work being done in the trenches, and one sophomore DL even received a few reps with the first unit. Both sides of the ball got in some good work against the respective scout teams. CF.C also asked about two freshmen no longer listed by WSU on the daily practice roster.

CF.C focused in on the defense as the scout team offense imitated varying USC looks and sets.

Junior DE Toni Pole was a forced to be reckoned with on Wednesday. The 302-pound roadblock made it difficult for the OL to create much running room for freshman RB Gerard Wicks. Pole kept pushing his way into the backfield, creating less opportunity for Wicks to run anywhere.

After being limited at practice yesterday, backup sophomore d-lineman Darryl Paulo looked efficient at DE. He even managed to work his way into the first unit for a couple of reps. While working with the first unit, the 262-pound Paulo came off the outside strong and turned some plays back inside. In turn, that enabled Pole and junior nose tackle Ioane Gauta to create even more chaos.

Paulo also tallied what would have been an easy "sack" on freshman QB Tyler Bruggman on a great move and wrapped up the freshman for a big loss.

D-line coach Joe Salave'a said Paulo's reps are a way of keeping everyone ready.

"You want everybody to get a little bit of rep," Salave'a said. "You also want to make sure your horses are out there on the field. When that whistle blows you want to make sure that you have the best foot forward. Darryl is going to be a good, solid reserve guy for us, but everybody has to be ready to go regardless of how the game has turned out. Darryl has earned those reps and will continue to be in on those."

Starting sophomore DE Xavier Cooper still took the majority of the reps with the first unit on Wednesday.

With the strong play of both his starting DEs in practice and at Auburn, and with Paulo and Matthew Bock in the cupboard, the d-end position looks to be in good shape despite the departure of reserve Logan Mayes.

IN TUESDAY'S REPORT, we noted that DL Paulo Lepua and OL Matt Meyer were no longer listed on the roster presented to media each day. We asked Salave'a about Lepua.

"You know I am not really sure what happened," Salave'a replied. "Hopefully he is doing good."

We also asked Mike Leach about Meyer.

"We only talk about guys that are here," Leach said. Which is kind of an answer in itself. On Meyer, media reports had referenced a health issue as to his absence. Meyer and Lepua no longer show up on the school's official website roster.

THE DEFENSIVE SECONDARY were ball hawks on Wednesday despite two defensive backs being held out of action.

Senior CB Damante Horton batted down three passes when running against the scout team. One play in particular, Horton stuck to sophomore WR Drew Loftus like glue all the way down the field before making a big, athletic leap to swat away the ball from Bruggman.

True freshman CB Charleston White got in on the action with a deflection and an interception.

Corner Nolan Washington and S/CB Anthony Carpenter were both at practice but in street clothes. Leach does not comment on injuries or absences, Horton and true freshman Daquawn Brown continued to run with the 1s, as they did yesterday.

OVER AT the WIL linebacker spot, Justin Sagote stood out one play where he made the proper read, deflected a Bruggman pass and nearly hauled it in for an interception.

The defense was clicking today and looked confident in their assignments. Salave'a took notice.

"I think we are getting to the point where we are all about routine plays and it is expected," Salave'a noted. "There is not a whole lot of over exaggeration of the emotions. I think the guys understand we do things right at 100 miles an hour. It is a big change from a year ago and we are just barely starting to tap into our potential."

ON THE OTHER side of the ball, Junior QB Connor Halliday struggled to find his rhythm early, but finished strong.

While running against the scout team in 7-on-7, he threw an interception in the red zone. But he bounced back strong throwing TD passes to sophomore WR Dominique Williams and freshman WR River Cracraft during the team session.

"We ended real well," Leach said. "I thought we started a little slow, but I thought we ended good."

CF.C asked Leach what stood out to him at the end of practice.

"We had good tempo, we bounced around, played hard and executed pretty good," Leach replied.

Redshirt freshman QB Austin Apodaca connected with sophomore WR Gabe Marks during the team session. Both of Marks' catches were chain-movers.

Apodaca's lone TD strike in team session went to Cracraft. Neither Halliday nor Apodaca threw any interceptions during 11-on-11.

NOTABLE NOTE:
• Freshman Jamal Morrow, who moved to corner from running back on Tuesday, wore the No. 38 jersey today in white. He participated in drills early in practice, but was held out of 7-on-7 and team session.

Running with the 1s:
QB- Connor Halliday
RB- Marcus Mason
X Receiver- Dominique Williams
H Receiver- River Cracraft
Y Receiver- Brett Bartolone
Z Receiver- Gabe Marks
LT- Gunnar Eklund
LG- Joe Dahl
C- Elliott Bosch
RG- John Fullington
RT- Rico Forbes

DEFENSE:
DE- Toni Pole
NT- Ioane Gauta
DE- Xavier Cooper (with a couple reps going to Darryl Paulo)
BUCK- Destiny Vaeao
SAM- Cyrus Coen
MIKE- Darryl Monroe
WILL- Justin Sagote
CB- Daquawn Brown
CB – Damante Horton
S – Deone Bucannon
S – Taylor Taliulu

Limited Players:
WR Austin Baker
OL Jacob Seydel
S Darius Lemora
CB Nolan Washington
S/CB Anthony Carpenter

Not in attendance:
S Bennett Bontemps
LB Austin Rapp
LB Chester Sua
LS Ryan Saparto

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