Practice begins without coaches, starters

PULLMAN — After a devastating loss Saturday to Oregon State, the Cougars came out for a practice session Sunday night that was anything but typical. When the lights came up in Martin Stadium, coach Mike Leach – and most of the starters – were missing.

When practice commenced at 9 p.m., mostly players in a non-starting role were on the field, along with the graduate assistants. Notably absent was coach Mike Leach and his assistants, along with most of the starters, including junior quarterback Connor Halliday.

The offensive scout team ran through various sets and formations before Leach and Co. showed up a little before 10 p.m. The starters filed in behind them.

Unofficially, here is the list of players who did not take the field until the coaches arrived:

QB Connor Halliday RB Marcus Mason WR Gabe Marks OL Elliott Bosch OL Joe Dahl OL John Fullington OL Gunnar Eklund WR Kristoff Williams CB Damante Horton S Deone Bucannon LB Cyrus Coen LB Darryl Monroe LB Justin Sagote DL Toni Pole DL Xavier Cooper DL Ioane Gauta

Once the team was assembled, the players suited up in helmets and sweats for a 40-minute session that focused on individual fundamentals and then a series of special teams drills.

The offense later lined up against the defensive scout team and ran through a brief team session. Halliday received a little more than half of the reps while freshman Austin Apodaca took the rest. The wide receivers caught every pass thrown their way.

On the other side of Martin, freshman Tyler Bruggman tried his best to mimic Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and what the Ducks might throw their way on Saturday.

The practice lasted about 40 minutes after Leach arrived.

CF.C also caught up with defensive coordinator Mike Breske about Saturday's loss and the impending battle at No. 2 Oregon.

What happened to the defense in the fourth quarter Saturday?

I think we had 16 explosive plays, 14 of which were passes. I don't know what to tell ya. We were in position on several of them and we have got to make plays. No, it's not like us. That's not our expectations and we have got to go on the field after a turnover … I mean that's our job; you've got to go play defense and we have got to learn from that.

On Brandon Cooks and allowing other OSU receivers to get open:

I think Cooks did a real good job. The running back was a non-factor. They really didn't really go to the run game other than the fly sweep with the wide receivers (who) I think were the leading rushers. I thought Damante Horton did a great job on him. He had some great open field tackles on him on the screen game, the quick throws and like I said, the fourth quarter they had yardage, but we were keeping them out of the end zone and that's the most important thing.

On prepping for an up-tempo team like Oregon, compared to Auburn and California:

I think on Tuesday we are going to get our basics in … in terms of what they run. They are a run team first, pass team second. We get good tempo here. We haven't had a problem with it all year. We didn't have a problem with it at Cal and to be honest with you, Auburn didn't tempo us that much. I don't foresee that being a problem at all.

On the scout team attempting to replicate Marcus Mariota:

Yeah, we can't replicate him. He's 6-4; we don't have a quarterback that is 6-4. I don't think we have anybody that is 6-4 that can run that way, but we do the best we can. Taylor Taliulu tells me they knew each other from the island. Whatever sport he attempted, he was the best at. He is just a tremendous athlete … We just want to be where we need to be.

The game is Saturday. What I am worried about on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday is just getting better.

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- Matt Goetz
RT- John Fullington

DEFENSE:
DE- Toni Pole
NT- Ioane Gauta
DE- Xavier Cooper
BUCK- Destiny Vaeao
SAM- Cyrus Coen
MIKE- Darryl Monroe
WILL- Justin Sagote
CB- Daquawn Brown
CB – Damante Horton
S – Deone Bucannon
S – Taylor Taliulu

LIMITED PLAYERS:
OL Jacob Seydel
LB Peyton Pelluer
DL Mortiz Christ

NOT IN ATTENDANCE:
S Bennett Bontemps
LB Chester Su'a
S Darius Lemora
LS Ryan Saparto
LB Eric Oertel

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