PRACTICE: WSU takes step forward

PULLMAN—The Coug offense shook off the bad juju from yesterday's sub-par skelly session and had a solid outing throughout the Wednesday session. The defense remained solid with the front seven, though, and the secondary stepped up their performance. Plus, inside linebackers coach Ken Wilson and head man Mike Leach discussed facing Arizona QB B.J. Denker and more.

"The (Arizona) quarterback hadn't started or played much going into the season, so they are being careful with him," Wilson said. "Now, as he has matured, they are going to a more balanced attack with all those guys.

He's managing that offense really well. Last year, Matt Scott obviously was a fifth-year senior, so he had a lot more experience. As the quarterbacks have matured, they've thrown the ball more."

Last week against UCLA, B.J. Denker, a senior, threw the ball 33 times for a total of 186 yards. Even though the Wildcats rank 101st overall in the FBS in passing, they rank 12th overall in rushing yards a game with 271.

The Cougs have faced similar quarterbacks like Denker this season, but Wilson offered what sets him apart from the rest of the others.

"One thing is that he is left handed," Wilson said. "This is the first lefty we have seen. So, some of the plays will go in a different direction. He's not a big guy, but he is very deceptive. He can out run you, he has got some good shake to him, he knows how to avoid big hits, and he knows how to get first downs with his feet.

"He seems to have a nice knack of knowing where pressure is and then getting through gaps. So, our contain and our rush and our keys have to be really good."

WHEN GAME TIME comes, Wilson has no problem shuffling his linebacker corps around and trying out various looks with different players.

Against ASU, sophomore WIL Tana Pritchard had a fairly decent outing against the Sun Devils. He finished with three total tackles. Along with Pritchard, senior MIK Jared Byers put up four total tackles for the Coug defense.

"We play a lot of guys," Wilson said. "Tana plays quite a bit and Jared Byers plays quite a bit. I think as many depth guys as you can have, the better. I mean as a unit, they are going to have to play better. They're always going to have to play better than they are, but they have given us good reps and they hope to continue to."

Leach added his thoughts on Pritchard and Byers.

"Well, I think Tana has got a lot of potential and just needs to realize his potential and hasn't yet," Leach said. "Byers is just a tough, hard-nosed player and is a big impact guy on special teams."

So what can Pritchard do to improve his play?

"I think he needs to play harder," Leach said. "I think he needs to get on more special teams and I think he just needs to go out there and have a burning desire to play every snap consistently."

BACK AT MARTIN STADIUM the Cougs' offense made a complete 180-degree turn from yesterday's skelly period and put in solid work.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Apodaca started off under center and went against the first team defense for five plays. Apodaca went a perfect 5-for-5 and spread the ball around to five different receivers.

On the fifth play, they lined up in the red zone and Apodaca lobbed a ball up for grabs to sophomore wide receiver Dom Williams. With senior safety Deone Bucannon draped all over him, Williams leaped up and made the grab for the play of the day.

Halliday usually takes around 15 reps under center for the Cougs, but only had ten throws in skelly today. He remained perfect until the very last throw when he sailed a ball over sophomore wide receiver Gabe Marks head. He finished 9-for-10 while going against the scout team.

In team, the reps were shortened for the offense. However, the Coug quarterbacks were efficient with their minimal reps.

Halliday tossed seven straight completions to start it off. Halliday should have had eight straight, but sophomore running back Jeremiah Laufasa dropped a pass that was right in his hands. The Spokane native finished 9-for-10 with no interceptions.

Apodaca threw the ball six times and had one incompletion.

OVER ON DEFENSE the secondary had a better outing than yesterday afternoon. Senior cornerback Damante Horton and true freshman cornerback Daquawn Brown did an excellent job of batting down balls and did not get beat deep by any of the scout team receivers.

Horton played physical against offensive scout Z receiver Drew Loftus and didn't allow him to catch a single ball the entire session.

Both of the BUCK LBs played exceptionally well for the Cougs this afternoon. Sophomore BUCK Destiny Vaeao plowed his way through the wall of scout offensive lineman twice and tallied two "sacks" in the session.

Near the end of practice, sophomore BUCK Kache Palacio tipped a pass from freshman quarterback Tyler Bruggman and took it to the house for a pick six. He then capped off the pick-six by dunking the football through the goal post.

Notable Note:
Senior safety Bennett Bontemps has not been seen at practice since around August. Today, he was at practice in a jersey and shorts. He did not participate in any 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
DL Moritz Christ
LB Chester Su'a
S David Bucannon
S Bennett Bontemps

Not in attendance:
CB Alex Jackson
LS Ryan Saparto
S Isaac Dotson

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