THURSDAY NIGHT: Several defenders stand out

PULLMAN — After four days of rest and coaches hitting the road for some recruiting, the Cougars returned to Martin Stadium for practice. Washington State went about its regular Thursday schedule with a short skelly and team session followed by some Thursday Night Football. The offense struggled to get into a rhythm during skelly, but bounced back during team session.

OL Coach Clay McGuire was happy with how practice went for the Cougars.

"Pretty good, considering we had four days off," he said. "They came out and did some good stuff. Sometimes it goes two ways: either really good or sometimes really bad."

Defensive coordinator Mike Breske offered his thoughts on the time off and getting back to the work.

"It was good for them and good for us," Breske said. "We got to do a little recruiting on Monday and Tuesday.

"(We) had a good spirited practice today and spent a lot of time against the offense during 7-on-7 the whole period, which was good. We got a lot of fast work there."

Junior QB Connor Halliday struggled going up against Breske's No. 1 defense during skelly. During his first five pass attempts, he was picked off by senior safety Deone Bucannon and only connected with one of his intended targets.

After the five attempts, the offense all went through a few up-downs by the coaches. Once skelly was finished, Halliday went 11-of-20 with an interception.

Redshirt freshman QB Austin Apodaca missed only two of his 10 targets in the session.

When the team session began, the No. 1 defense went up against Halliday and company for five plays before heading to the west end zone for scout-team work. On those five plays, Halliday went 4-of-5 with an interception. Halliday improved from his skelly performance in team by finishing 18-of-22 with one interception. Apodaca finished 8-of-8 with no turnovers.

In the receiving corps, Kristoff Williams returned to practice and had a good session catching the ball. Williams did not practice last week and did not play during Saturday's 62-38 loss at No. 2 Oregon.

ON DEFENSE, Bucannon intercepted Halliday and deflected two balls during scout-team work.

True freshman CB Daquawn Brown also intercepted Halliday during 11-on-11 with what would have easily been a pick-six.

Brown has shined at times in games, and he's also been doing it on the practice field the last few weeks. Brown's strong play earned him a starting spot, but he continues to hold that position down with his playmaking abilities.

"He enjoys football," Breske said of Brown. "He has fun. He's a spirited young man and enjoys the game and needs the game and that is the kind of guys you want."

Junior SAM Cyrus Coen looked excellent for the No. 1 defense against the scouts. He batted down two balls and recorded three "tackles" on scout team wide receivers.

During the DL and OL drills, senior NT Ioane Guata clogged the middle on the run and recorded three tackles during the drill. One of them was a tackle-for-loss on freshman RB Gerard Wicks.

Here's something new: True freshman S Darius Lemora has been out of action since fall camp with a foot injury. He suited up today, but was a limited participant.

According to Breske, they have no plans of rushing him back into action any time soon. Lemora, before he was injured, was expected to make a strong case for playing time in his first season with the Cougs.

Thursday Night Football was rough for freshman QB Tyler Bruggman. On the second play of the session, he was picked off by true freshman walk on LB Nathan Hundeby.

Bruggman has showed flashes of greatness during Thursday Night Football this season, but also has had some tough outings. McGuire doesn't think he is hitting the freshman wall, though.

"You can't really compare," McGuire said. "Sometimes he has had good receiver play, sometimes not. There are so many factors that go into it. Sometimes it's not all him, sometimes it is all him. It's never as good as it looks; it's never as bad as it looks."

Bruggman managed to throw a touchdown pass to freshman RB Jamal Morrow for 35 yards, but finished 7-of-14 with two interceptions as well.

Morrow's touchdown catch was the highlight play of the practice. Bruggman dumped the pass down to Morrow and he broke free from a tackle, juked Hundeby and ran down the sidelines for the score.

Morrow also fumbled the ball once, but it was recovered by redshirt freshman OL Pierson Villarrubia.

The offensive line in the trenches impressed McGuire during Thursday Night Football compared to last week, but he still wants to see more.

"It was better I would say this week than it was last week," McGuire said. "I thought Ivan McLennan beat our tackles a couple times. Other than that I thought we were OK. I thought we did do some good stuff. We are kind of starting to single out a group and try to gel a group with some of the guys that will be competing next year."

Who exactly is McGuire singling out?

"Sam Flor has been really consistent in this deal," McGuire said. "Actually, I didn't think Cody O'Connell had a good day last week, but I thought he went out today and had a pretty good day other than the two false start penalties."

On defense, it was all Hundeby. He seemed to be in on every play for the defense during Thursday Night Football. Hundeby finished the afternoon with seven tackles, a sack and an interception.

Redshirt sophomore LB Max Hersey made an excellent play coming off the edge. He read the play perfectly, tipped the ball and caught it for an interception off Bruggman.

The hit of the day came from redshirt junior CB Tracy Clark. Freshman QB Connor Ennis tossed a short pass to freshman WR Robert Lewis. As soon as Lewis went to turn the corner, Clark lowered his shoulder and set him down with a loud thud.

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

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

OL—Jacob Seydel
LB—Peyton Pelluer
DL—Mortiz Christ
S—Darius Lemora

S—Bennett Bontemps
LS—Ryan Saparto
CB—Alex Jackson
LB—Chester Su'a

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