WSU's Tuesday practice: Air Raid grounded

PULLMAN — A way to slow down the Cougar passing attack was revealed on Tuesday – just whip up a torrential downpour. But Mike Leach wasn't have any of it. A running back shifted over to the H-receiver spot after tallying four catches against Southern Utah. Meanwhile, special teams coach Eric Russell talked about a potential change on punt return man…

Mike Leach kept receivers, running backs and quarterbacks late after practice.

"We had a session of skill development," Leach said. "There were those that thought their responsibility to catch the ball in the rain changed. So, we had to work through that a little bit."

There wasn't anyone CF.C observed who was immune to a bad case of the drops on Tuesday. Leach was more interested in the cause than the affliction.

"Concentration…just soft and felt sorry for themselves," Leach said. "The rest of the team I thought practiced real well. I thought the offensive line did well. I thought the secondary and linebackers did pretty good. So, I thought it was overall a good practice."

The extra session was basically everyone lining up and playing catch about 20 yards away from one another.

WHETHER IT'S JUST for this week or a permanent change hasn't been determined yet, but there was some personnel movement on the offensive side of the ball Tuesday.

Senior RB Leon Brooks lined up at H-receiver Tuesday after snaring his first four receptions of the season against SUU. CF.C asked Leach about the impetus for the move.

"He is a good player," Leach said. "We have got a couple guys playing pretty good at running back and so we wanted to get him out there."

Marcus Mason, Teondray Caldwell and Jeremiah Laufasa have shared the running back duties through three games. Brooks saw extended playing time after the score had become lopsided but looked good catching the ball.

So is this move permanent?

"Not 100 percent, but we think he can play there," Leach said. "He will play there this weekend."

MAYBE IT WAS because of the rain, maybe not, but Wazzu's special teams as a whole were at best sub-par on Tuesday.

But in a possible sign of things to come, freshman WR River Cracraft caught a few punt returns during the special team's session.

"Leon did not have a good week in practice last week," Eric Russell said. "So, we are still searching back there. We have got to have better decisions."

It doesn't have to do with setting up block or fumbles or what he does after he gathers in the pigskin -- it's that he's not returning enough punts to begin with.

"There have been some balls that we think we need to at least field and that is what we are looking for, somebody to step up and who is courageous and is going to go and try and make things happen."

True freshman safety Isaac Dotson had his redshirt taken off Saturday and posted two tackles. CF.C asked Russell if he might also contribute on special teams.

"I hope so," Russell said. "We need to. He is a pretty athletic kid and an instinctive kid. The more athletes you can put out there that got size and have some of things he has got, I think the better we can be with some of that."

MEANWHILE, THE DEFENSE had a good day.

The defensive backs deflected numerous passes and the front seven consistently put up road blocks against the run from the scout team.

"Our goal every week is to stop the run," defensive line coach Joe Salave'a said. "That is as plain as I can put it, regardless if it is Idaho or Alabama. Our goal up front is to make sure we control the line of scrimmage and give ourselves a chance to help the cover guys. We have got out work cut out."

  • Motivational speaker Eric Thomas spoke to the Cougs yesterday. We asked Salave'a about it. "It was great, inspiring, and empowering also," Salave'a said. "I hope it resonated to the whole team because there are no secrets, like he said. It takes effort, confidence, sacrifices and a commitment versus the casual interest. If you are committed you will do everything in your manpower to get it done. I thought ET did a phenomenal job for us."

    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

    DE- Toni Pole
    NT- Ioane Gauta
    DE- Xavier Cooper
    BUCK- Kache Palacio
    SAM- Cyrus Coen
    MIKE- Darryl Monroe
    WILL- Justin Sagote
    CB- Nolan Washington
    CB – Damante Horton
    S – Deone Bucannon
    S – Taylor Taliulu

    Limited Players:
    OL Jacob Seydel
    S Darius Lemora
    BUCK Destiny Vaeao

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

  • Cougfan Top Stories