TNF offers glimpse into WSU future

PULLMAN — Practices generally focus on getting starters and primary backups an opportunity to prepare for the weekend opponent. But Washington State's "Thursday Night Football" has a different feel to it -- scout teamers, back ups and third-stringers take the field for a volume of reps and heavy-hitting they normally do not see. A true freshman was among those showcasing his skills.

Special teams are usually the primary focus on Thursdays as far as the 1s go. After a brief session of individual drills, the special teams took the field and the Cougars lined up in field-goal formation in the west end zone to start things off.

What transpired was less than ideal as far as the punting team was concerned. Junior WR Rickey Galvin blasted off the right edge untouched and knocked down the first attempt by kicker Andrew Furney, who finished the day nailing his remaining four field goal attempts.

Later, WSU players lined up for punt duties. The protection was excellent this time for senior punter Mike Bowlin with the exception of one play. Sophomore BUCK Kache Palacio displayed brilliant athletic ability during that down. The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder blasted through both walls of protection and swatted down a punt with his left hand.

After special teams work, the first-team offense took snaps with the new public-address system blasting crowd noise in their short 11-on-11 session. Junior QB Connor Halliday's non-verbal communication looked stellar. He only took about 15 snaps, but only missed one of his targets. Early in the action, Junior WR Isiah Myers hauled in a 15-yard reception from Halliday in the east end zone against the defensive scout team.

TRUE FRESHMAN WR John Thompson later started off the "Thursday Night Football" session with a 25-yard touchdown strike from Halliday.

Thompson was a favorite target among the quarterbacks during the session. The 5-7, 185-pound Thompson was targeted 10 times during practice. Among those attempts, freshman QBs Tyler Bruggman and Luke Falk connected with him eight times.

Thompson had a hot start at camp down in Lewiston and caught the attention of coach Mike Leach, who at one point put him in with the first unit at Y receiver. As camp progressed, the freshman faded out of the Cougs' deep WR rotation and back with the 3s.

Bruggman started off sloppy by badly overthrowing his first target. The next throw was tossed right into the hands of sophomore LB Jeremiah Allison. Bruggman then became comfortable on his third attempt. He laid a perfectly thrown ball right into the hands of junior WR Daniel Lilienthal down the middle of the field. Lilienthal created separation from the secondary and darted all the way for a 70-yard touchdown pass. Bruggman went 7 of 10 with one touchdown.

Falk also took advantage of his time under center. He showed poise in the pocket and did not turn the ball over. He even used his legs when the pocket collapsed on him when he escaped the linemen and ran for a 10-yard gain. He also finished 7 for 10 and threw a touchdown to sophomore WR Drew Loftus.

The session went to the defense despite strong quarterback play. Freshman CB Charleston White had a forced fumble on Loftus that was recovered by freshman DB Beau Glover.

The hit of the day came from the defensive side of the ball. True freshman DE Emmitt Su'a-Kalio laid a vicious hit on RB Jamal Morrow, who attempted to block him. Instead, Morrow was leveled by the 245-pound Emmitt Su'a-Kalio and lost his helmet in the process. Su'a-Kalio received a round of applause for his hit.

At the conclusion of practice, Bruggman and Falk stayed at the end of practice with two freshman offense linemen taking snaps. The two freshmen were Carlos Freeman and Riley Sorenson. CF.C asked OL coach Clay McGuire if he was trying to improve the depth at center or just give them some work snapping the ball.

"We've got good depth right now," McGuire said. "Every center that will go in the game right now will be gone next year. It is one of those things that we have got to start developing some guys that can play that position in spring ball."

McGuire said senior OL Zack Brevick still is the No. 2 guy at the center spot.

The Cougars will have their typical walk through Friday before they take the field against Southern Utah at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Martin Stadium.

Running with the 3s (the offense had their customary massive shuffle for Thursdays with the youth, the 3s below were the players on the field for the first snap of Thursday night football):

QB — Tyler Bruggman
RB — Gerard Wicks
X, H, Y, and Z receivers: X- Daniel Lilienthal, H-Robert Lewis, Y-John Thompson, Z-Drew Loftus
LT — Devonte McClain
LG — Brent Anderson
C — Sam Flor
RG — Riley Sorenson
RT — Cole Madison

Running with the 1s...

QB — Connor Halliday
RB — Marcus Mason
X, H, Y, and Z receivers — X- Dominique Williams, H-Brett Bartolone, Y-River Cracraft, Z-Gabe Marks
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
SAM — Cyrus Coen
MIKE — Darryl Monroe
WILL — Justin Sagote
CB — Nolan Washington
CB — Damante Horton
S — Deone Bucannon
S — Taylor Taliulu

OL — Jacob Seydel
OL — Denzell Dotson
OL — Pierson Villarrubia
S — Darius Lemora

S — Bennett Bontemps
LB — Austin Rapp
LB — Chester Su'a
LS — Ryan Saparto

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