Rare full session of 1s vs. 1s for Cougs

PULLMAN — After a week off the field, the Cougs were back at Martin Stadium preparing for Arizona – but this Thursday was unlike most WSU practices. In the team and skelly sessions, the No. 1 offense battled against the No. 1 defensive unit for the entirety of both sessions, upping the competition and intensity. There was also an excellent session of Thursday Night Football.

This was most assuredly a week off in every sense of the term. Defensive coordinator Mike Breske said in addition to no practices, the Cougs didn't even hold position meetings.

It seemed to have had a positive effect, as the Cougs held a mostly solid session on the day.

TNF was marked by strong early play from the young running backs before the Cougs started going to the air. And running backs coach Jim Mastro had a lot of interesting things to say in a conversation with Cougfan.com that we'll publish tomorrow. But to begin with, a closer look at the first day back on the field for the Cougs since the ASU game.

"I thought we had a good practice today," Mike Leach said.

And about the 1s battling it for an extended time at practice? Leach gave a fair answer as to why he chose to do that.

"Well, we got an extra day so it gave us an opportunity to do that," Leach added.

Not since Lewiston have the Cougs had a full session of 1s vs. 1s.

At most, the defense will run against the first team offense for about five plays then head to the opposite end zone for scout work.

Thursday afternoon did not see any scout work at all for the No. 1 units.

JUNIOR QUARTERBACK Connor Halliday and his offensive unit looked sharp against the No. 1 D. At the beginning of practice, there was a bit of rainfall which made it difficult for Halliday to connect with his receivers in 7-on-7. Still, he made efficient work out of the skelly session.

Halliday received his normal 20 reps and from my perch high above it looked like there were only five incomplete passes. The highlight of the skeleton session was when Halliday scampered out of the pocket and threw a dime on the run to freshman WR River Cracraft, who made a diving catch for a 15-yard gain.

Once the action moved to 11-on-11, I was able to more easily keep track of Halliday and redshirt freshman QB Austin Apodaca's throws. The offense looked particularly good in going against the defense for the most part.

The rain had subsided by the start of the team session and although Halliday and Apodaca didn't put up great numbers, they put together some big explosion plays.

THE PLAY OF the day on offense came when Halliday connected with sophomore WR Dom Williams.

With an excellent pocket and a solid layer of protection from the offensive line, Halliday stepped into a throw and laid a perfectly thrown ball into the hands of Williams for a 40-yard gain and what would have easily been six points.

Halliday completed his first three passes, but missed his next three. But he did not throw an interception and finished 9-of-15.

Apodaca only had eight drop backs and completed four of his passes.

Of the thirty snaps that were taken in the team session, the offensive line only allowed one "sack" from sophomore BUCK Destiny Vaeao on Apodaca.

ON DEFENSE, the secondary stood out most from my chair. The strong play of the offensive line made it difficult for the defensive linemen in the trenches to get their hands on the Coug signal-callers. And the Cougar linebackers were somewhat quiet. But the secondary made some hay, and they were led by, well, who else.

The hit of the day came from senior safety Deone Bucannon. Halliday dropped back and rifled one to WR Vince Mayle. Mayle turned to go up field but as soon as he turned around, Bucannon met him with a full head of steam and set him down with a loud thud. Bucannon's fellow defensive players and coaches garnered him with cheers and high fives for the hit.

Senior CB Damante Horton and freshman CB Daquawn Brown didn't record any interceptions on defense, but were ball hawks and batted down numerous passes.

AFTER THE 1s were finished, the young guns strapped up for another round of Thursday Night Football.

The first three plays from scrimmage were running plays. Two of the carries went to freshman RB Gerard Wicks, who went for four yards, and then five the next.

Freshman Jamal Morrow broke off for four on the third carry.

Later, freshman QB Luke Falk, who went 6-for-12, had a 75-yard TD pass to Morrow. The offense ran the very same play on the next snap -- and Falk connected again with Morrow, this time for 45 yards.

Freshman QB Tyler Bruggman finished Thursday Night Football going 8-for-10. He had a 35-yard TD strike to junior WR Daniel Lilienthal and did not throw an interception.

Junior BUCK Ivan McLennan and sophomore LB Paris Taylor had two "sacks" in the Thursday Night Football session.

We'll have our conversation with Mastro tomorrow on CF.C.

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

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

Not in attendance:
S Bennett Bontemps
CB Alex Jackson
LS Ryan Saparto

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