PRACTICE: WSU o-line continues making strides

PULLMAN — Washington State's defense has been ahead of its offense for most of the season and it was no different during "Thursday Night Football." The Cougars' defensive line made it difficult for the running backs to find any open lanes, while the secondary swatted down numerous passes. Also, offensive line coach Clay McGuire talked with CF.C to give his assessment of his position group.

The normally basic special teams session to begin practice saw senior kicker Andrew Furney also get in a few punts. Senior Mike Bowlin has averaged just 37.2 yards per punt this season. Both Bowlin and Furney had about the same distance on the boots CF.C observed.

After the special teams session, the offense and defense took to their respective end zones and went through their scout team sessions as normal.

The PA system was rocking once again at Martin Stadium with crowd noise and Top 40 hip-hop. Junior QB Connor Halliday and redshirt freshman QB Austin Apodaca participated in a short team session against the defensive scout team that lasted 15 minutes. Both signal-callers looked solid by hitting their targets and not turning the ball over.

In pass protection, the offensive line has looked much improved during both practices and games this season. Thursday's session was more of the same as they provided the quarterbacks with plenty of time to throw.

"I thought they practiced well," McGuire said. "I would like to see them be a little more up-tempo and faster, but it was a pretty clean Thursday."

McGuire has been diligently working to improve the unit's consistency and technique. CF.C asked McGuire who he believed has been his most consistent linemen after three games.

"Elliott Bosch," said McGuire, without hesitation. "Anything you coach him up or tell him to do … it's done. You coach him up on something first day of the year; he is still working hard to master that coaching point at the end of the year. He continues to improve his skills every day."

LATER, FRESHMAN QB Tyler Bruggman started Thursday Night Football under center. He completed his first pass to freshman WR Robert Lewis for a 10-yard gain on the first snap. On the ensuing play, Bruggman launched a well-placed ball to sophomore WR Tyler Baker for a 25-yard touchdown and the first score of the session.

Bruggman finished the session completing 5 of 8 passes for two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Freshman QB Luke Falk took over after Bruggman and played well. He completed 7 of 10 passes. QB Connor Ennis, another freshman, also practices and completed 4 of 7 attempts.

The offensive line only allowed two "sacks" during the entire session.

"They are getting better," McGuire said. "They are doing some good stuff. We have a bunch of kids out there playing; we didn't have that last year. We are actually able to play some football out here and execute some plays so that's a good thing."

CF.C asked McGuire who he thought played well in the team session.

"I thought Cole Madison played well," he said. "Riley Sorenson, Eduardo Middleton, Brent Anderson played well."

Sorenson played his first collegiate game during Saturday's 48-10 win against Southern Utah.

"It's kind of a pleasant surprise," McGuire said. "Usually it's hard for a freshman to come in and play at this level at any school. He comes from a great high school program. (He) was very mature and ready to play, had a great camp and worked his way into the top eight."

Even though the quarterbacks and offensive line played well, the defense still came out on top Thursday evening.

On Wednesday, linebackers coach Ken Wilson mentioned freshman DL Daniel Ekuale as one of the guys on the scout team they were watching.

Ekuale helped his cause Thursday by "sacking" Bruggman and two tackles.

Another freshman got in on the action, too. LB Nathan Hundeby darted through a gap and got "sacked" him Falk.

Freshman S David Bucannon had the tackle of the day on Lewis.

Lewis went down the middle to catch a pass from Bruggman. After Lewis completed the catch, he turned up field and Bucannon used his perfect pad level to apply a hard hit.

The Cougars will have their Friday walk-through tomorrow before facing Idaho at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

NOTABLE NOTES
  • CF.C asked McGuire about Junior OL Jacob Seydel, who has been limited at practice the last few weeks and if they plan on redshirting him this year.

    "It just depends if he is back in the few weeks," McGuire said. "It just depends on how quick he comes back."

    Running with the 1s...

    OFFENSE
    QB—Connor Halliday
    RB—Marcus Mason
    X Receiver—Dominique Williams
    H Receiver—Rickey Galvin
    Y Receiver—River Cracraft
    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
    BUCK—Kache Palacio
    SAM—Cyrus Coen
    MIKE—Darryl Monroe
    WILL—Justin Sagote
    CB—Nolan Washington
    CB¬—Damante Horton
    S—Deone Bucannon
    S—Isaac Dotson

    LIMITED PLAYERS
    S—Darius Lemora
    OL—Denzell Dotson
    WR—Brett Bartolone
    LB—Chester Su'a
    S—Taylor Taliulu

    NOT IN ATTENDANCE
    S—Bennett Bontemps
    LS—Ryan Saparto
    OL—Jacob Seydel

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