Halliday improved, but D keeps him in check

PULLMAN— It was business as usual today for Washington State, but special teams continued to struggle on Wednesday. Defensively, linebacker Darryl Monroe led the way for the unit, and although quarterback Connor Halliday had an improved session from Tuesday, the defense still forced him into some tough throws.

Connor Halliday had zip on his passes during skelly and 11-on-11 team action and only turned the ball over once between the two sessions. In hindsight though, Halliday's timing with his receivers wasn't quite there, with some overthrows and such.

During team, he missed four of his 17 targets finishing off with a 76 percent completion percentage. Even though he missed only four targets, the incompletions were not good throws.

In particular, he missed junior WR Rickey Galvin on a ball that didn't look to be catchable from the media perch. Later, he overthrew back-to-back passes intended for sophomore WRs Gabe Marks and Brett Bartolone. He also was intercepted by freshman LB Nate DeRider when the 1s on offense ran 11-on-11 against the scouts.

ON A MORE positive note, Halliday rifled a touchdown pass to Marks when going against the first team defense. The defense starts off the team session for five plays or so then run over to the other end zone after those five plays for scout team work.

With the defensive scout team in, Halliday connected with sophomore WR Dom Williams on a bomb. Williams used his speed nicely against redshirt freshman safety David Bucannon.

Backup QB Austin Apodaca went 10-10 in the team session with no interceptions or touchdowns.

"There is some stuff we need to iron out," head man Mike Leach said. "I thought for the most part good. I thought we finished good. We didn't start as good as we would have liked."

Marks continued to look sharp Wednesday, running immaculate routes. The 6-0, 175-pound Marks leads the team with 39 receptions. Dom Williams is second on the team with 13 grabs. Marks also has compiled 423 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns, both team highs.

OVER ON DEFENSE, the Cougs continued their focus of tempo and discipline while running against the scout team.

Sophomore MIK LB Darryl Monroe highlighted the defensive side of the ball stuffing gaps and handling nicely his other responsibilities. He even racked up the hit of the day. Redshirt sophomore WR Tyler Baker came into Monroe's zone and the linebacker lowered his shoulder and lit him up right when Baker made the reception.

Senior safety Deone Bucannon snatched up a Tyler Bruggman pass intended for junior WR Daniel Linienthal when the No. 1 defense ran against the scouts.

Senior SAM LB Eric Oertel did not suit up for practice and did not participate in any drills. He observed practice from the sidelines in a visor and sweatpants.

SPECIAL TEAMS had an inconsistent practice session.

Positives included sophomore LB Feddie Davey, who continued to do excellent work along with redshirt junior RB Theron West. WR Brett Bartolone, who is now healthy, was returning punts along with freshman WR River Cracraft and senior RB Leon Brooks.

On the downside, the Cougs struggled hanging on to the football during kickoffs and punt returns. Freshman CB Alex Jackson had an excellent kickoff return, but was stripped of the ball by a scout-teamer wearing a black jersey. Later during punt returns Galvin coughed one up, but managed to fall on it before any black jerseys did.

To the surprise of media members watching practice, senior kicker Andrew Furney did not kick any field goals at the beginning of practice like he usually does. Instead, senior punter Mike Bowlin tested out his boot kicking field goals. He nailed all four of his attempts, his longest from 40 yards out.

At the conclusion of practice, all of the Cougar coaches and players signed the final beam that would be put in place on the football operations building.

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

DEFENSE:
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 Eric Oertel
LB Peyton Pelluer
OL Jacob Seydel
DL Mortiz Christ

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

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