WSU Fall Camp Day 3: Pads crackin'

Consistency. That is the key to the door the Cougars are seeking. It is also the word that coach Mike Leach could be heard using in his post-practice speech to the team huddled around him. The offensive and defensive sides have gone back and forth during these last few days of fall camp, and Leach admitted that both sides have looked exceptional, but just not at the same time.

Today, the door toward complete success was indeed locked with the absence of consistency. But that left another door open and it allowed the defensive line to come pouring in on the quarterbacks and running backs.

LT Joe Dahl, however, was on the sidelines today, not participating in any drills. Gunnar Eklund moved one over from his guard spot, while Devonate McClain (pictured above, No. 69) stepped in at left guard.

Of course, the defensive players cannot hit quarterbacks Connor Halliday or Luke Falk, both of whom took snaps in the scrimmage drills. However, that hasn’t stopped nose tackle Toni Pole from attacking the offensive backfield. The only thing bating Pole’s hunger for a sack is, in his words, the man in the baseball cap on the sideline: Leach.

That doesn’t make him take it easy on the offensive line, though.

“They’re giving good effort every day,” Pole said. “They struggle sometimes, but you have to start somewhere. Our job is to give them our best. That’s the only way they’re going to get better. They’re going to face fronts like us. We’re going to face offensive linemen that have hands like them, so the only way to go is to go full speed on both sides of the ball.”

Offensive line coach Clay McGuire admires the veteran defensive line that the Cougars have at their disposal. He said they are setting a high standard for his younger blockers on the offensive side of the ball -- and that’s a good thing.

“I want to sit there and think they’re pretty good,” McGuire said. “They’ve got a lot of bodies in there -- a lot of depth -- and those three starters are old and they’ve played a lot of snaps. They’re playing at a really high level right now and so if we can play up to their level, we’ll be pretty good.”

The lines smashed together frequently today, as it was the first time the teams donned shoulder pads during fall camp.

“Conditioning-wise, it hurts a little bit,” Pole said. “We’re running around in shoulder pads for the first time in awhile but it gets your heart racing, and it gets the adrenaline pumping.”

POLE SAID THAT energy turns into a passion that ignites the players, and that things naturally get chippy when the effort is high. Things certainly did get chippy during practice, and this time, the trash talk was between wide receiver Vince Mayle and cornerback Sebastian LaRue. During a passing drill, Mayle was matched up against LaRue, who blocked Mayle at the line of scrimmage and did not allow him to even begin to run his route.

After that, Mayle came back strong, catching three consecutive passes and each time making it look easy. Following the third catch, Mayle threw the ball toward LaRue and bounced it off of the cornerback’s helmet. The drill continued without any other altercations.

The intensity has risen with each day that passes, and that has been helped by the defensive line. Pole said they are doing their job as a defensive unit and as leaders of the team to keep the desire for improvement high. He said it helps the players behind the defensive line, and it helps everyone who needs that extra push.

“All we can do is the best,” Pole said. “We don’t try to worry about anything outside of what we can control, just how we play, how we approach everything, how we approach every snap. If we can just go balls to the wall, go all out, it’ll help on the back end. Like Coach has said, it’s contagious. When people are making plays, everyone wants to get in.”

  • The team participated in a one-on-one tackle drill briefly during the beginning of practice. Leading off in that drill was a matchup between Gabe Marks and Tracy Clark, and it ended with both players pushing themselves toward the outside of the circle surrounding them.

  • Parker Henry and Brett Bartolone were both in yellow jerseys but both seemed fairly active. Bartolone participated with the receivers in some drills, and Henry worked on conditioning.

  • Cody O’Connell was wearing a yellow jersey and watching practice.

  • Peyton Bender spent more time with the first and second teams today, but still only watched Halliday and Falk take snaps.

  • Isaac Dotson shed the yellow jersey he wore yesterday and was fully active with the first-team secondary.

  • McGuire said the competition at the center position is still even between Sam Flor and Riley Sorenson.

  • The defense won the 11-on-11 scrimmage drill 24-22.

  • Marcus Mason and Gerard Wicks each had a touchdown run in the red zone while backup QB Luke Falk was controlling the offense.

  • Bill Moos addressed the team after practice, offering encouraging words and noting how many tickets have been sold for the upcoming season.

    Primarily taking reps with the 1s
    QB: Connor Halliday
    RB: Theron West, Jamal Morrow, Marcus Mason
    X: Vince Mayle
    Y: River Cracraft
    H: Rickey Galvin
    Z: Gabe Marks
    LT: Gunnar Eklund
    LG: Devonte McClain
    C: Sam Flor
    RG: Jacob Seydel
    RT: Cole Madison

    E: Destiny Vaeao
    NT: Toni Pole
    T: Xavier Cooper
    BUCK: Kache Palacio
    SAM: Cyrus Coen
    WILL: Tana Pritchard
    MIKE: Darryl Monroe
    CB: Daquawn Brown
    CB: Tracy Clark
    FS: Taylor Taliulu
    SS: Isaac Dotson

    Primarily taking reps with the 2s
    QB: Luke Falk
    RB: Gerard Wicks, Marcus Mason
    X: Dom Williams
    Y: Robert Lewis
    H: Calvin Green
    Z: Kristoff Williams
    LT: Devonte McClain
    LG: Sean Krepsz
    C: Riley Sorenson
    RG: Eduardo Middleton
    RT: Cole Madison

    E: Darryl Paulo (pictured above, No. 52)
    NT: Robert Barber
    T: Daniel Ekuale
    BUCK: Ivan McClennan
    SAM: Mitchell Peterson
    WILL: Chester Su’a
    MIKE: Jeremiah Allison
    CB: Sebastian LaRue
    CB: Patrick Porter
    FS: Kamel Greene
    SS: Beau Glover

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