PRACTICE: Leach pleased with WSU effort

PULLMAN — The Cougs had another productive day on Wednesday and unlike last week, the sloppy conditions at Rogers Field didn't affect them in the slightest. Although the offense had its moments, the defense owned the day. And the front seven included a familiar BUCK linebacker who stepped in with the 1s and made his size known.

The Cougar defense made strong pushes on the defensive line this evening, making it difficult for the scout team offensive line to offer any protection for freshman quarterback Tyler Bruggman. Even though the scout team doesn't go full speed, the defense made quick reads and breaks to the ball.

Senior WIL linebacker Justin Sagote was a limited participant and spent the majority of practice on the bikes. Sophomore WIL LB Tana Pritchard took over with the 1's and did a fine job. When running against the scouts, he had a tipped pass and two tackles.

ONE PLAYER WHO had a strong day of practice was BUCK LB Destiny Vaeao, who ran with the 1s instead of sophomore Kache Palacio.

Last week, the Stanford Cardinal only threw the ball 17 times and managed to put 42 points on the scoreboard. Between the two Cardinal running backs, they both split the carry duties running the ball 18 times a piece for a total of 155 yards. Vaeao's added size and strength to the Coug defensive front could provide some benefits in attempting to halt Stanford's strong ground game.

WSU currently ranks second in the PAC-12 in total defense giving up 264.8 yards per contest. The Cardinal ranks 10th in the PAC-12 in total offense at 401 yards a game. Leach isn't surprised about the defensive's performance these last three games, but notes that there is always room for improvement.

"We knew we would be better and we are still getting better," Leach said. "We are excited about those guys emerging. They are playing together as a unit, but we still have a long ways to improve and I thought we got better this week and still have a ways to go."

The secondary today performed well in practice as well. Senior CB Damante Horton had an interception against the scout team and knocked down numerous balls that came his way. Sophomore safety Taylor Taliulu was active in the secondary flying toward the ball and creating havoc for the receivers on the scout team.

OVER ON OFFENSE, the 1s bounced back from yesterday's slow finish and played great all the way through. Junior QB Connor Halliday took his 20-25 reps in the team session and he only missed three targets.

"I thought we worked hard, had good focus and had a pretty good practice today," Leach said.

Sophomore WR Brett Bartolone remained a limited participant today and rode the bikes for the majority of practice. Leach was asked about Bartolone's status.

"He's doing fabulously, he's 100 percent, and we couldn't be more excited," he said in his typical fashion.

Junior WR Isiah Myers highlighted the play of the day. During 7-on-7 action, Halliday rifled a ball that looked to be out of Myers' reach. Myers extended his left hand and tipped the ball and hauled in the catch for a nice gain.

As for the protection for Halliday, the offensive line continued to do a solid job keeping scout-team lineman from getting into the backfield. The majority of their work is against the scout team, but the big hosses up front have been consistent through three games and the starting five has remained intact since Lewiston.

Offensive line coach Clay McGuire was asked if this was the most improvement of an OL he has seen in a one-year period.

"When I got into Tech (Texas) and coaching we were a pretty established program, so obviously the amount of improvement was different," McGuire said. "Same at East Carolina, they were a pretty good football team when we got there, but yeah, so to say, yeah it would be."

Running with the 1s:
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

DE- Toni Pole
NT- Ioane Gauta
DE- Xavier Cooper
BUCK- Destiny Vaeao
SAM- Cyrus Coen
MIKE- Darryl Monroe
WILL- Tana Pritchard
CB- Nolan Washington
CB – Damante Horton
S – Deone Bucannon
S – Taylor Taliulu

Limited Players:
S Darius Lemora
WR Brett Bartolone
LB Peyton Pelluer
OL Jacob Seydel
LB Justin Sagote

Not in attendance:
S Bennett Bontemps
LS Ryan Saparto
LB Chester Su'a

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