WSU's dominance on defense continues in TNF

PULLMAN — Washington State's pass coverage has stifled opposing receivers throughout the season and that was no different during Thursday Night Football. The Cougars' cornerbacks were quick to converge on the ball, while the safeties provided excellent coverage over the top. Also, CF.C caught up with d-line coach Joe Salave'a and linebackers coach Ken Wilson to discuss the Cougs' defensive front.

"(We) got better from yesterday's session, so the mental part now is at its all-time high now until Saturday," Salave'a said.

The defense handled the offense during Thursday Night Football and during the short scout team session when the 1s took the field.

Senior CB Damante Horton snatched up an interception off a ball thrown from freshman QB Luke Falk in the west end zone. Senior CB Anthony Carpenter was in with the No. 2 defense at corner and knocked two passes to the ground. Even freshman CB Daquawn Brown got in on the action with a deflection.

Starting senior WIL Justin Sagote was a participant today at practice after being limited this week but the majority of the Thursday reps went to backup sophomore WIL LB Tana Pritchard with the No. 1 defense. Wilson was asked if he thought Sagote would be ready to play come Saturday.

"I think he will be ready," Wilson said. "We rested him yesterday. He had a heck of a game last week and he's a physical guy and we need him in top shape for this game. We got Jeremiah (Allison) in the game last week. He played about eight or nine snaps last week. We are sound at that position."

Sophomore BUCK Destiny Vaeao continued to practice with the 1s. He missed the past two games against Idaho and SUU with an undisclosed injury and sophomore Kache Palacio filled in nicely at the BUCK in his absence.

Stanford likes to pound the ball on the ground behind a big o-line -- and sometimes as many as eight o-linemen are in the game, so it seems Vaeao's timing couldn't be better. Vaeao checks in at 290 pounds while Palacio is 225.

The WSU coaching staff has hinted toward the size and physicality of the Stanford OL all week. CF.C asked Wilson about that in relation to Vaeao's return.

"He's back healthy 100 percent, so we are using him," Wilson noted. "Now we are back to our rotation with those two guys. We are lucky. We are one of those teams where we have some good depth in the d-line, so we can match up pretty good with offensive fronts."

In the short 11-on-11 versus the scouts, Junior QB Connor Halliday completed nearly every one of his attempts. He did not throw a touchdown pass nor an interception. Redshirt freshman QB Austin Apodaca got in some reps during 7-on-7. But from our perch, we did not see Apodaca throw during the 11-on-11 session.

Once Thursday Night Football started and the youth took the field, it looked as if the offense would dominate the session. That changed in a hurry.

On the first play, freshman QB Tyler Bruggman dropped back and threw a bomb downfield to junior WR Daniel Lilienthal. The 197-pound Lilienthal blew by freshman safety David Bucannon and caught a perfectly thrown ball from Bruggman for a 75-yard touchdown strike.

THAT WOULD BE the only time the offense would score.

Freshman QB Luke Falk struggled against a tough defense going 6-of-13 with no touchdown passes and an interception. Freshman DB Kahmel Greene hauled in the interception.

Safety Isaac Dotson, also a freshman, shined during the session. Dotson tallied four tackles and had the hit of the day.

Freshman WR Robert Lewis caught a 15-yard pass from Bruggman and immediately when he turned up field, Dotson wrapped him up and set him down with a picture-perfect form tackle.

The other standout on defense was freshman CB Alex Jackson. The speedster from Culver City, Calif., showcased his athletic ability deflecting three balls intended for receivers as he pestered the receivers throughout the session.

The defensive line made plays as well.

Freshman DL Austin Brown tallied the first "sack" of the afternoon on Falk, while Junior BUCK Ivan McLennan "sacked" freshman QB Connor Ennis later in the session.

SATURDAY NIGHT FIGURES to be a battle in the trenches against Stanford, but Salave'a has confidence in his guys up front.

"I think it is going to come down to details and guys doing what they are supposed to do … being in the place where they need to be," Salave'a said. "That's easier said than done sometimes. These guys are still young kids. We are trying to make sure that along with changing the culture, we do things the right way and I think we've got a shot (against Stanford.)"

The Cougars will have their closed walk-through Friday before heading to Seattle for their game against No. 5 Stanford. The game is set for 7 p.m. on ESPN.

Running with the 1s...

OFFENSE
QB—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—Destiny Vaeao
SAM—Cyrus Coen
MIKE—Darryl Monroe
WILL—Tana Pritchard (a few reps to Justin Sagote)
CB—Nolan Washington
CB—Damante Horton
S—Deone Bucannon
S—Taylor Taliulu

OFFENSIVE STATERS FOR TNF
QB—Tyler Bruggman
RB—Gerard Wicks
X Receiver—Daniel Lilienthal
H Receiver—Tyler Baker
Y Receiver—Robert Lewis
Z Receiver—Drew Loftus
LT—Eduardo Middleton
LG—Brent Anderson
C—Sam Flor
RG—Riley Sorenson
RT—Pierson Villarrubia

LIMITED PLAYERS
S—Darius Lemora
WR—Brett Bartolone
LB—Peyton Pelluer
OL—Jacob Seydel
LB—Chester Su'a

NOT IN ATTENDANCE
S—Bennett Bontemps
LS—Ryan Saparto
DL—Mortiz Christ


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