WSU Fall Camp Day 5: Receivers flying high

LEWISTON — A major storyline early in camp is Washington State’s veteran-laden receiving corps vs. its youthful secondary. That scenario played out with predictable results during Wednesday’s practice. Also, the kicking game produced an uneven performance, some players moved between the first- and second-team units and Mike Leach explained why the Cougars did not compete in full pads.

The fifth day was when full pads are first allowed by the NCAA but Leach decided to wait.

“We’ve been having good work and good contact,” Leach said. “Right now, we’re a little fatigued so I wanted to put that off a little bit. Obviously, we’ll be in full pads at some point, but we’re essentially able to practice nearly everything in similar-to-full-pads, as we are right now.”

As promised by special-teams coordinator Eric Russell, the day began with field-goal blocking and field-goal protection. That drill featured both redshirt freshman Erik Powell and redshirt junior Quentin Breshears, the two kickers vying for the starting job of lofting the ball through the uprights on game days.

The duo produced vastly different results. Powell started off the drill and made three of his four attempts, starting off with a short kick and working up to about the 30- to 35-yard line. On the other hand, Breshears shanked his first kick to the left, and as he moved backward, he sent the other three attempts to the left, too.

WHILE THE KICKING GAME was erratic, the offense was a staple of consistency. They struggled Tuesday at times, especially on third down conversions, but Wednesday was much different.

In the 7-on-7 scrimmage drill, the offense dominated the opposing defense, especially in the secondary. Wide receiver Vince Mayle trucked true freshman cornerback Kevin Griffin after making a catch, and also burned freshman corner Patrick Porter on a pass from Falk toward the end zone.

Furthermore, in a drill that worked on man coverage against the receivers, the secondary players looked equally inept as the receivers caught almost every ball and were able to work away from the defenders by the time they were ready to catch the ball. Redshirt junior walk on Tyler Baker looked especially strong in this drill as he caught a couple of passes in tighter coverage, even though he has not seen much time with the first- and second-team offenses in previous practices.

MULTIPLE PLAYERS SWAPPED positions during practice. Xavier Cooper and Destiny Vaeao played on the side opposite of where they normally line up, with Vaeao on the strong side of the quarterbacks and Cooper on the blindside.

Theron West ran the ball with the second-team offense Wednesday, but running-backs coach Jim Mastro said that was simply to give West the opportunity to participate with different members of the offensive line - he remains the No. 1. Meanwhile, Gerard Wicks, who Mastro called the fastest of all his running backs this year, ran with the first-team offense. Leach even also called Wicks the most explosive guy in camp so far, at least in terms of the running backs.

Mastro said the collection of running backs added new wrinkles to their schemes Wednesday and that they went well. Although the defensive line stuffed some of the runs throughout the 11-on-11 scrimmage, Mastro said he has been pleased with his unit throughout fall camp.

“It’s been good the last couple days,” Mastro said. “We’re definitely taking the next step and we have a lot of depth at that position. We’re making a concentrated effort to run the ball. With guys like that, it makes it a little easier.”

In fact, the running backs did break through the experienced defensive line of the Cougars, so those starters aren’t infallible.

“We’ve had success running against them,” Mastro said of the defensive line. “Our offense is about numbers so they can have it be as strong as they want. If we have them outnumbered, we’re going to run the ball. If we don’t, we’re going to throw the ball.”

As the days pass, the position battles are bound to get even more intense. Mastro said all the running backs are challenging for a starting job, while Leach added that Rickey Galvin and Calvin Green are still fighting hard for the starting spot at the H-receiver.

“It’s been a really competitive five days,” Leach said. “I thought everybody competed really hard today so I was really happy with both sides.”

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Sebastian LaRue was not present at practice Wednesday. Leach said he was attending to family matters.

  • Isiah Myers caught three touchdowns in the 11-on-11 scrimmage drill today. He caught a pass in the red zone from Connor Halliday against the first-team defense, and then he had another touchdown catch in the red zone from Luke Falk against the second-team defense. Myers also hauled in a pass over Patrick Porter that went about 40 yards for a touchdown.

  • Falk also hooked up with Robert Lewis for a touchdown against the second-team defense during his segment of controlling the offense in the 11-on-11 scrimmage drill.

  • West and Mitchell Peterson were part of a scuffle that drew in several other players, but ended in laughs along the sideline.

  • Nick Begg is still working with the receivers in drills instead of with the offensive line.

  • Joe Dahl and Devonte McClain watched from the sideline Wednesday for the entire practice. Cody O’Connell and Brett Bartolone remained in yellow jerseys throughout practice. Freshman offensive lineman Drew Springfield did not participate in practice (on crutches at the beginning of practice).

    Primarily taking reps with the 1s
    OFFENSE
    QB: Connor Halliday
    RB: Gerard Wicks, Jamal Morrow
    X: Vince Mayle, Jamal Morrow
    Y: Robert Lewis, River Cracraft
    H: Calvin Green, Rickey Galvin
    Z: Kristoff Williams
    LT: Gunnar Eklund
    LG: Eduardo Middleton
    C: Riley Sorenson
    RG: Jacob Seydel
    RT: Cole Madison

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

    Primarily taking reps with the 2s
    QB: Luke Falk
    RB: Theron West, Teondray Caldwell
    X: Drew Loftus, Vince Mayle
    Y: Robert Lewis
    H: Calvin Green
    Z: Kristoff Williams
    LT: Gunnar Eklund
    LG: Sean Krepsz
    C: Sam Flor
    RG: Jacob Tweten, B.J. Salmonson
    RT: Jacob Seydel

    E: Darryl Paulo
    NT: Robert Barber
    T: Daniel Ekuale
    BUCK: Ivan McClennan
    SAM: Mitchell Peterson
    WILL: Chester Su’a
    MIKE: Jeremiah Allison
    CB: Kevin Griffin, Patrick Porter
    FS: Beau Glover, Sulaiman Hameed
    SS: Darius Lemora


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