WSU Fall Camp: Day 7

LEWISTON — In Cougar country on Friday, there was indeed rest for the weary. The WSU football team practiced for a shortened amount of time Friday afternoon, but they still got in most of their usual work.

“It’s just that time of camp,” Mike Leach said. “The consideration is, ‘Do you want to practice fast and crisp, getting full speed, or do you want one where they’re trying to push through and going to drag at some points?’ So we went with the fast one. It went good, and then back out tomorrow.”

The Cougars weren’t necessarily as consistent as they have been during other days of practice, Leach said, but it was still a hard-fought session. In fact, the team did something it hasn’t done throughout its time in Lewiston this year.

The offense and defense tied for the first time in the 11-on-11 scrimmage, requiring a sudden death play that put the ball on the 3-yard line.

Backup quarterback Luke Falk stayed in against the second-team defense, and after looking around for a long time to find a receiver, he fired a strike to Rickey Galvin, who caught the ball just beyond the end zone line. The offense was awarded three points for the score, and won the match 23-20.

Although his side of the ball lost today’s bout, defensive lineman Xavier Cooper remained pleased with how the men up front have been playing. He did say today’s practice was a much-needed rest after working hard for six consecutive days.

“I think it was. It’s always good to have these short practices,” Cooper said. “We just want to be fast and focus on our technique.”

But with all the focus on the matchup between the first and second teams during the 11-on-11, there’s always more going on than meets the eye. Players not necessarily in the two-deeps are still working hard, but they simply have to wait their turn to make it onto center stage. Take true freshman running back Squally Canada.

First off, the coaching staff clearly likes what they’re seeing in Canada in his first camp with the Cougs.

“He looks good, just have to get him taught what we’re doing and all the rest,” Leach said. “Each time I see him, he gets bigger. He’s fast, runs real hard, and a pretty strong guy.”

The 5-10, 192-pound running back out of Milpitas, Calif., who dons No. 36 everyday, does his work with the scout offense, learning his way up with quarterbacks Peyton Bender, Connor Ennis and Erik Anderson at the helm. Canada also faces off against the best defensive players on the team.

“I feel like I’ve been doing good. I’ve been learning the plays and the blocking scheme, and just trying to take my reps and watching the starters and everything.”

He also spends time on the special teams unit, which runs perhaps the most because kickoffs and punts sometimes require players to travel over 50 yards at a time. Leach said putting Canada on the special teams unit allows the coaches to see what he can do, seeing as how he is only a true freshman at the moment.

“I never really did special teams in high school, but they said if you’re going to make it to the league, special teams is a big part of it,” Canada said. “I enjoy it, it’s fun, but I’m just trying to get to the next level, so I’ll do whatever it takes.”

Canada says he doesn’t have a “favorite”, saying he has learned from watching the entire running backs group, and then listing off every player on the roster at the position, never forgetting one. He also doesn’t have a favorite coach, nor is he worried about impressing any of them. Canada is just focused on what the game of football is to most young players: fun.

Indeed, worrying about impressing the coaches seems like a wasted effort. When asked about Canada, running backs coach Jim Mastro had nothing but positive things to say.

“He’s very impressive. He’s what you want at this level,” Mastro said. “Hopefully we can afford to redshirt him, but he’s what you want at this level.”

Canada said he feels he still needs to improve, especially at blocking and finding the holes created by the offensive line. For these kinds of things, he learns from the coaches and the running backs. For more personal issues, he goes to his biggest mentor on the team, and also to his parents.

“My mom and my dad, they keep me going,” Canada said. “Whenever I’m down or whatever, I give them a call and they always remind me what I’m doing it for, and just really those two.”

Who is Canada’s mentor on the team, though? It’s none other than wide receiver Vince Mayle, who is also from California, although not the same town.

Canada said he talked to Mayle before he even arrived at WSU, and that Mayle helped him on his unofficial visit. They also eat dinner together frequently.

While this season looks likely to be a developmental, redshirt year for Canada, seeing as how Theron West, Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks all have looked like strong competitors for a starting job, the future looks bright for this young freshman. Right now, it’s about learning, just like everyone else is still doing in camp. The experience will come, and though Canada lacks that right now, he doesn’t lack the confidence that sometimes eludes younger players.

“I don’t feel any different. I feel more confident than what I was in high school,” Canada said. “I’m just trying to come out here and learn the system, but I don’t really feel any big change or anything.”

Sebastian LaRue was again absent from practice (Leach said Wednesday he was attending to a personal matter.)

Joe Dahl, Devonte McClain, Brett Bartolone, Cody O’Connell, Jacob Tweten, Parker Henry and Drew Springfield were all limited in practice today.

The kickers worked on field goals again with full protection and blocking units. The first kick by Erik Powell was blocked. From then on, Powell and Breshears switched off in their field goal attempts, each making one and missing one.

During the 7-on-7 scrimmage, Connor Halliday attempted to throw a long pass to the end zone, but the pass fell incomplete as the ball bounced off of cornerback Tracy Clark’s hands.

During the 11-on-11 series, Halliday found a leaping Vince Mayle for a first-down gain against the second-team defense.

Halliday then connected with both Dom Williams and Rickey Galvin in the end zone, for touchdowns against the first-team defense.

Jamal Morrow broke away for a long run against the second-team defense.

Cornerback Charleston White picked off the lone pass of the session intended for Mayle in the end zone against Luke Falk.

Darius Lemora got in some more time with the 1's, putting in a solid day but nothing spectacular.

Primarily taking reps with the 1’s
QB: Connor Halliday
RB: Theron West, Jamal Morrow
X: Vince Mayle, Dom Williams
Y: Robert Lewis
H: Calvin Green, Rickey Galvin
Z: Isiah Myers
LT: Gunnar Eklund
LG: Eduardo Middleton
C: Riley Sorenson
RG: Jacob Seydel
RT: Cole Madison

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

Primarily taking reps with the 2’s Offense:
QB: Luke Falk
RB: Gerard Wicks
X: Drew Loftus
Y: River Cracraft
H: Calvin Green, Rickey Galvin
Z: Kristoff Williams
LT: Eduardo Middleton
LG: Sean Krepsz
C: Sam Flor
RG: B.J. Salmonson
RT: Jacob Seydel

E: Darryl Paulo
NT: Robert Barber
T: Daniel Ekuale
BUCK: Ivan McLennan
SAM: Paris Taylor
WILL: Chester Sua
MIKE: Jeremiah Allison
CB: Patrick Porter, Charleston White
FS: Sulaiman Hameed
SS: Beau Glover

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