PRACTICE: Cougars crank up the volume

THERE WERE FEW people Wednesday at Martin Stadium. There was no band, no concessions and no boisterous fans. Really, there were only players, coaches, trainers and the occasional reporter, so it should have been a relatively quiet place to be.

It should have been, but it wasn't.

As per course on Thursday, noise, music, bands and cheering — and some occasional booing — were piped in at near decibel levels. It gave practice a very game-day feel.

And game day is rapidly approaching. The Cougars had their final practice in Pullman before leaving for Seattle, and while practice was relatively short, the team made the most of their time on the field.

For a brief moment it looked as though the Cougar offense was going to struggle.

As the teams lined up for one-on-ones, cornerback Damante Horton immediately picked off quarterback Connor Halliday. But after that Halliday was on target, going long multiple times to Vince Mayle, while he also hit multiple receivers with screens, slants and the occasional 20-yarder.

He finished the day 19 of 22, used the entire field and looked sharp.

The other blemish of the afternoon came when Zach Brevick came in at center and missed a shotgun snap. The ball went shooting by Halliday, and the play was, to say the least, botched, but the offense quickly regrouped.

Rico Forbes, WSU's 6-foot-6 redshirt senior from Houston, logged some minutes at right tackle while Riley Sorenson, a 6-4 freshman from California, saw time at right guard.

Defensively, Jared Byers, a 6-foot redshirt senior from Pullman, picked off two passes that were thrown by scout-team QB Tyler Bruggman.

THE TEMPERATURES HAVE been chilly, but other than that this week has had a definite fall camp feel to it.

Thanks to a week-long Thanksgiving break, the Cougars have been out of school, and with the exception of homework or projects, they have been able to spend most of their time focused on football rather than school.

It's no surprise that coaches have loved that, and while the Huskies also are enjoying the same break, the chance to spend so many hours focused on football and not school has many WSU coaches salivating.

"You're coming back to a fall camp mentality where guys were around all day," linebackers coach Ken Wilson said. "I'm with my guys all day long so I can run out and grab them."

So far all the Cougars, not just Wilson's linebackers, have been able to focus on football without having to worry and stress about class.

"We've watched extra film and they've had their little meetings and watched film for themselves, so for both teams really focus on one opponent," Wilson said. "It should be a great game."

The Cougars need a great game. The line on Wednesday was 13.5-14 depending on where folks look.

But as far as motivation goes, Wilson said none of the coaches are worried about their players not being ready for Friday's kickoff.

"It's just another game on our schedule," he said. "I think if guys can't get motivated for these types of games they probably shouldn't be playing football. Some of the other games on your schedule you are to work harder, but these guys were here first thing in the morning last week right after the game to get ready for this one."

UW running back Bishop Sankey is one reason for the spread favoring the Huskies. Wilson said Sankey isn't just one of the best backs in the conference, but one of the top ones nationally.

Wilson said Sankey is the type of player who won't just run over a player, but he can move players with his eyes.

The Huskies have been known to utilize the short passing game, and while Wilson said he knows UW can go deep, they also spread the field.

"The last four of five games we've played have all been that similar spread the field," he said. "Different plays, but similar in spreading the field and having fast guys with the ball in their hands; good running backs, so we've prepared well for it. And we have to prepare these next couple of days. We've got to have our best game this Friday."

WILSON SAID HE likes the way Tana Pritchard is playing and he expects him to see more of the field.

"I think he's doing good," Wilson said. "He got his first full game last Saturday. We didn't know how long he'd go, (but) he got every rep. He did a nice job, he was productive when he was attacked.

"Obviously he's got to get better, but he gave us good reps in there."

  • Wilson said he hopes Mitch Peterson also will be ready to go on Friday -- and he also expects Sorenson to see action.

  • The Cougars had an early Thanksgiving as the team headed to Zeppoz following Wednesday's practice. The team had a turkey dinner and a bowling tournament. They leave for Seattle on Thursday.

    The Cougars had their normal Wednesday underclassman scrimmage, and after a dismal opening, the two teams were able to showcase their skills.

    The offense could not do anything but drop the ball at the start of the scrimmage. Five straight misses, most of them dropped passes, led to the offense being pulled aside for 30 up-downs. Following that, the offense clicked, and the scrimmage had its normal flow.

    After watching those first five passes dropped, Tyler Bruggman completed the next five but Nathan DeRider ended the streak when he broke up a pass. Bruggman finished the day 8 of 14, one a 32-yard TD pass to Daniel Lilienthal.

    Luke Falk only managed 7 of 16 passing and was nearly picked off, but DB Kahshan Greene dropped the would be interception.

    Willie Roach had the play of the day when he broke for the end zone and was nearly overthrown by Falk. But Roach reached out with one hand and snagged the ball for the score.

  • Cougfan Top Stories