Halliday looks healthy, errant; Coug D sharp

PULLMAN — For starting quarterback Connor Halliday, it was business as usual with a full day under center on Tuesday. But that didn't mean it was necessarily a good day for the junior out of Spokane. Meanwhile, the Cougar defense, particularly the front seven, made life difficult for the offensive scout team -- breaking up passes, tipping balls, and pounding their way into the backfield.

Halliday was a full participant in Tuesday's session, likely laying to rest any lingering concerns over his availability this Saturday after being knocked out of the game against Stanford. But he had a difficult time hitting his targets on Tuesday. He was picked off three times all told between the skelly (twice) and 11-on-11 periods (once).

Offensively there were still glimpses of greatness, as evidenced by his near perfect completion percentage in the team session. But the interceptions were what stood out most. Halliday looked healthy out there and ready to play, he wasn't moving gingerly and he didn't looked bothered. He just didn't hit his targets.

Mike Leach was asked how he felt Halliday played today -- he gave reporters a very short answer.

"He looked great," Leach said.

Senior corner Damante Horton made one of the picks in 7-on-7, the other was by a player on the scout team. (From our perch, we could not make out who intercepted the pass because of the black practice jersey they were wearing.)

Halliday finished 7-on-7 completing 13 of his 20 attempts for two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Redshirt freshman Austin Apodaca took advantage of his usual 10 throwing attempts and missed only one target.

Junior WR Kristoff Williams made the play of the day ensuring that Apodaca would only have one missed throw. The throw looked to be a little late, but Williams adjusted and reached behind in the one-handed grab.

In team session, Halliday improved mightily on his 7-on-7 work, completing 20 of his 21 passes and 2 touchdowns. That one missed connection proved costly. However, an interception nabbed by scout team freshman LB Nathan Hundeby. Apodaca finished 9-of-12 with a TD pass and no interceptions during 11-on-11.

OVER ON DEFENSE, the Cougs' preparation for Cal is both wildly different, and the same.

After prepping for a smash-mouth team like Stanford, the Cougs now face Cal's "Bear-Raid" offense this week under Sonny Dykes, who tutored under Leach. WSU defensive line coach Joe Salave'a talked about some of the differences.

"I think there is a little bit more of a discipline in your eyes," Salave'a said. "You get your eyes wrong -- you are going to be out of position. Obviously, the tempo is one thing you can never emulate, but you can always try and that's all we have been doing thus far in ‘Tempo Tuesday.'

"The issues right now with our guys are lining up and making sure right now that their eyes don't wander and that is going to be critical this week."

So how did the Cougs do in that regard Tuesday?

"I thought it (practice) was decent work," Salave'a said. "There is still unfamiliarity with the tempo and what Cal is doing right now…we have got to continue to work and tomorrow is another good work day for us, but today was not bad."

FROM OUR PERCH, there was some good work going on, particularly coming on the heels of a blowout loss.

The first team defense lined up against the No. 1 offense for the first five plays of the team session. On the fourth play, Horton made an excellent break on a Halliday pass and picked him off for what would have been an easy pick-six.

Later, the defense lined up against the scouts in the west end zone and dominated from start to finish.

Senior DE Matthew Bock bullied his way past the scout team o-line for a "sack" on freshman QB Luke Falk. Junior DE Toni Pole tipped a pass intended for sophomore WR Drew Loftus at the line of scrimmage. Sophomore BUCK Destiny Vaeao ran all the way across to the other side of the field to bring down freshman RB Gerard Wicks for a tackle for loss.

"Tempo Tuesday" indeed.

DURING OL AND DL DRILLS, redshirt freshman nose tackle Robert Barber was doing a fine job shedding blocks and receiving praise from Salave'a during practice. CF.C asked Salave'a about the progression of Barber and his prospects of earning additional time in rotation.

"Robert is fighting a couple things," Salave'a said. "He is fighting time because he didn't have that time because he got hurt. He just got cleared coming into the fall from an ACL. The kid's finally just starting to catch his footing. He is still young -- he never had a full slot of weight training (either)."

On Tuesday, Barber had some firm footing. He posted some excellent tackles and made things difficult for the first team o-linemen who matched up against him in the session.

ON SPECIAL TEAMS, senior punter Mike Bowlin looked to be punting the ball in the 35-40 yard range with his longest punt going about 40 yards.

Junior punter Wes Concepcion hovered around the same range with a long of 42 yards.

As was mentioned in Sunday's report, Brett Bartolone has returned to his starting job at the "Y". As on Sunday, he was again a full participant and looked ready to roll.

Running with the 1s:

QB- Connor Halliday
RB- Marcus Mason
X Receiver- Dominique Williams
H Receiver- Brett Bartolone
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- Justin Sagote
CB- Nolan Washington
CB – Damante Horton
S – Deone Bucannon
S – Taylor Taliulu

Limited Players:
LB Chester Sua
LB Peyton Pelluer
OL Jacob Seydel
DL Moritz Christ

Not in attendance:
LS Ryan Saparto
S Bennett Bontemps
S Darius Lemora

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