PRACTICE: Cougs return to the Great Outdoors

PULLMAN—The Cougs were back at Martin Stadium after having spent all previous bowl practices inside the IPF. Offense and defense went through sets of individual drills plus 7-on-7. The first and second defensive units switched in and out, going against the first team offense while the scouts did skelly work in the opposite end zone. After that came the last Thursday Night Football of the year.

The skelly session for junior quarterback Connor Halliday and the offense was solid despite some dropped passes from the wide receivers.

Sophomore WR Dom Williams had an opportunity to haul in pass, but it slipped right through his hands. Later, Halliday threw a bullet to junior wide receiver Rickey Galvin, who had trouble making the grab. Halliday finished 10 of 17 and didn't turn the ball over.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Apodaca threw eight passes. He was 6 of 8 and was picked off by senior cornerback Nolan Washington.

The Cougars did not have a team session at practice today.

The receiving corps has had some practices where they have struggled holding onto the ball. Still, their performances in big games overshadow some of the minor mishaps they have had in practice.

Senior wide receiver Vince Mayle had a breakout game against Cal earlier in the season by snatching up four balls for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

Against Utah, Dom Williams blew up for 154 yards and two touchdowns on five receptions.

Many WSU receivers could easily have made a case to earn Pac-12 honors. But only true freshman River Cracraft, who had 489 yards on 37 catches, received honorable mention honors from the conference.

While Cracraft had a fine season, some wondered why sophomore wide receiver Gabe Marks (69 catches, 770 yards) did not receive recognition. CF.C asked Leach why he thought Marks did not receive any Pac-12 awards.

"I think it's hard to find a freshman that played any better than Cracraft," Leach said. "Marks does some good things, but we have other guys that do good things too."

Leach was then asked if he was surprised that Cracraft was the only one awarded out of the entire receiving corps.

"Well, he was a freshman and he caught a lot of balls at that position," Leach said. "I think towards the end he was hot, Isiah (Myers) was hot, and so was Dom (Williams)."

ONE COUGAR WHO received plenty of recognition for his play was senior safety Deone Bucannon. He received Walter Camp Second-Team All American honors along with Athlalon Sports First-Team honors.

"It's a lot like Michael Crabtree said when he won each of his Biletnikoff awards," Leach said. "He is the only one to win two in a row. As soon as gets the award he says, ‘This is a team award and all my teammates made it possible' and I feel the same way about Deone.

He's a great representative of us and then in the end it's a team award and our team's proud to have Deone represent us because he is a great player and a great example for all the others."

Where does Bucannon rank among the defensive backs he's had the opportunity to coach?

"Better than average," Leach said. "He's a good one. He plays good. He's very physical … maybe the most physical one. (We) had a guy named Dwayne Slay who was real physical, but in particular I like (Bucannon's) leadership qualities. He's a relatively quiet guy, but when he says something he has something to say and he commands attention when he says it too."

Back at practice, the scout team and some the younger Cougars had their final opportunity to suit up for "Thursday" Night Football.

Leach mentioned Friday that with the extended time with the young players, they spent a decent amount of time looking at the up-and-comers on the defensive line.

Defensive line coach Joe Salave'a said he had a chance to look at those young d-linemen even though he was on the road recruiting. He believes they have translated well from the practice to the live action they received tonight in Thursday Night Football.

"We're getting there," Salave'a said. "You're starting to see a little bit of those things. Ivan McLennan is coming along, but Robert (Barber), Daniel (Ekuale) and Gerald Sterling … those kids are starting to put together some decent work and that's why it was so critical having these extra sessions."

For a good chunk of the first series, Barber, Ekuale and McLennan spent a lot of time on the defensive line and made excellent plays with their reps. Even freshman Emmitt Su'a-Kalio got in on the action with a sack on true freshman quarterback Tyler Bruggman.

Bruggman had a decent practice.

On the first drive, he marched the offense down field for a 12-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off with a 20-yard touchdown catch from sophomore wide receiver Brett Bartolone.

Bruggman went 7 for 14 with one touchdown and no interceptions.

Freshman quarterback Luke Falk went 6 of 11 with a 41-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Tyler Baker. He also threw an interception.

On defense, it was all freshman safety Darius Lemora. Tonight, it just seemed like Lemora had a nose for the ball and was in on every play. Lemora broke up four passes and finished with four solo tackles.

Junior SAM Mitchell Peterson also had a fine day. He finished with four tackles and broke up two passes.

If weather permits, the Cougars will be back Sunday at Martin Stadium again for another afternoon practice.

Running with the 1s...

QB—Connor Halliday
RB—Marcus Mason
X Receiver—Dom Williams
H Receiver—Rickey Galvin
Y Receiver—River Cracraft
Z Receiver—Isiah Myers
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—Tana Pritchard
MIKE—Darryl Monroe
WILL—Justin Sagote
CB—Nolan Washington
CB—Damante Horton
S—Deone Bucannon
S—Casey Locker

OL Jacob Seydel
DL Moritz Christ
LB Chester Su'a
S Bennett Bontemps
S Isaac Dotson

CB Alex Jackson
LS Ryan Saparto

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