PRACTICE: Loscalzo breaks down Wazzu gains

PULLMAN—Cougar fans have noticed that several players added plenty of size over the offseason. There's reason for that. WSU strength and conditioning coach Jason Loscalzo was hard at work this spring and summer getting Cougs on different weight training programs. He spoke with CF.C in detail about his program. Meanwhile on the field, a junior wide receiver led the way for the offensive unit.

With the duration of practices becoming shorter, the pace and productivity at Martin Stadium has increased. With that comes focus and mental toughness which is not only instilled on the football field, but in the weight room as well.

The rigorous workouts and dedication in the offseason to hitting the weights can often go unnoticed by fans. Jason Loscalzo, who was a fullback at Humboldt State in his college days, was hired by Mike Leach last year to take over the reins as the new strength and conditioning coach. The changes in players' bodies has been impressive.

"He (Leach) called me right around midnight and we talked until about 2:30 in the morning," Loscalzo said of when he first heard from Leach. "That initial conversation I had with him, ten minutes of it maybe was spent on football and strength and conditioning. The rest was about all kinds of other stuff. So, then he asked if I wanted to come for an interview."

Loscalzo was hired soon after.

When it comes to his lifting philosophy, Loscalzo likes to keep it simple, but effective.

"When it comes to lifting weights, we pretty much all do the same things," Loscalzo said. "We are all trying to develop speed, we are all trying to develop power and we are all trying to develop strength. What we do to change things up is more nutrition wise than what we do from a conditioning standpoint. We will change some minor things here and there, but all the guys here are trying to develop the same thing."

HAVING TO OVERSEE so many players in the offseason and during the season, it can be difficult for Loscalzo to keep tabs on players' nutrition and progress. Still, he offered up who he believed has benefited the most from his program.

"I'm going to say John Fullington offensively and (Xavier) Cooper defensively," Loscalzo said. "Those two guys, I think they just benefited from being in the program another year and being genetically blessed and having an ability to be strong. We've got guys who are really working their tails off in there."

When Loscalzo took over last year, he put a program in place and said it's almost where he wants it to be.

"The program will really be fully implemented by mid-winter," Loscalzo said. "We will have everything running the way I have wanted it to run since day one. It takes about that long. You're talking about very technical things that we do. You're talking about scientific things in terms of getting guys where they're going to be strong enough and they're going to be fast enough to do the things we want them to do and it has taken about a year and a half to get there."

COMING INTO FALL CAMP in Lewiston, a large topic of discussion was how much weight and muscle Deone Bucannon had added onto his frame.

"If you're talking about a guy who probably benefited a lot, it's Deone," Loscalzo laughed. "Deone's biggest thing was that he bought in completely. He has done everything we have asked him to do, plus more. He would come in twice a day in the summer, cut out all the extracurricular stuff and he got his sleep.

"He takes care of his body like nobody else on the team does. He takes care of his body like a professional. He eats right, he recovers from workout to workout and he's just smart about how he does it."

The Pac-12 doesn't hold any benching competitions for football players, but Loscalzo was dead set on who he would have represent the Cougs if the there was one.

"Rico Forbes," Loscalzo said without hesitation.

How much can Forbes bench exactly?

"We stopped Rico Forbes at 450 (pounds)," Loscalzo said. "When we were maxing out last year that was about his twelfth set of one and I was like ‘we don't need a guy with a blown peck' so we stopped him at 450."

MEANWHILE AT PRACTICE the offense looked fine running against the scouts. Redshirt junior quarterback Connor Halliday went 15-of-18 in the team session and had the play of the day. After being flushed out of the pocket, he rolled to his left and through a dime to freshman WR John Thompson while still on the run for a 40-yard gain.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Apodaca only threw eight passes, missing only one of his targets.

The standout on offense today was junior WR Isiah Myers, who ran crisp routes and pulled in several balls during the team session. Leach likes what Myers brings to the table, but feels he needs to be more dependable when he's on the field.

"He's an explosive guy," Leach said. "He just needs to be more consistent, but he's explosive and he really just needs to stay focused because he can be just as good as any of them if he stays consistently focused."

Against OSU last week, Myers was held without a catch and has a total of 13 receptions this season.

OVER ON DEFENSE, senior safety Deone Bucannon was the most notable player. He deflected three passes and had two "tackles" while the 1s ran against the scout team.

Senior cornerback Damante Horton had a solid day as well. He had four "tackles" and made an excellent read on freshman QB Tyler Bruggman for an interception.

On the defensive line, senior defensive end Matthew Bock stuffed the run and recorded a "sack" on Bruggman. He also made some great plays on special teams.

Junior WR Kristoff Williams was not in attendance for the second straight day of practice. Forbes rode the bikes for the majority of practice and was a limited participant today as well. Linebackers coach Ken Wilson mentioned yesterday that the coaches would have hoped to get freshman MIK Peyton Pelluer back as a full participant today. He suited up, but ran the stairs at Martin Stadium and did not participate in drills.

Running with the 1s:
QB- Connor Halliday
RB- Marcus Mason
X Receiver- Dom 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
S Darius Lemora
LB Feddie Davey
OL Rico Forbes

Not in attendance:
S Bennett Bontemps
LS Ryan Saparto
CB Alex Jackson
WR Kristoff Williams
LB Chester Su'a

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