WSU Fall Camp Day 9: O-Line getting stronger

LEWISTON — Two huge assets, in terms of size and importance, returned to the practice field Sunday, giving the Cougars a much-needed lift on the offensive line. Joe Dahl and Devonte McClain, who have watched from the sidelines for the majority of camp, were on full display as they participated in drills and the 11-on-11 segment toward the end of the day.

The pair started off a bit rusty, but offensive line coach Clay McGuire said they will be in regular form within the next day or two.

“They looked okay; you could tell they’ve been out of practice for a week or whatever they’ve been out,” McGuire said. “They’re fine; they went in there and practiced and did some good things, and we’ll see how much better we can get tomorrow.”

During their absence, the Cougars have utilized younger players to piece together an offensive line. Gunnar Eklund, who was replacing Dahl at left tackle, will now line up at left guard. Dahl has been out since the third day of camp, and McLain, limited since Day 4.

“We’re coming together bit by bit,” McGuire said. “It’s been slow, but I feel like we’re starting to make some improvement and some strides in the last three practices. Today was a little sluggish, but the three previous were pretty good, pretty energetic.

“We had some good tempo, and did some decent things.”

Head coach Mike Leach also felt practice was a little sluggish, which he said was to be expected, but then added that the team needs to push through.

During the 11-on-11 matchup, though, the offensive unit as a whole looked downright efficient.

Connor Halliday LED the first-team offense on multiple trips to the end zone. Near the beginning of the scrimmage, Halliday threw a bomb down the left sideline that Vince Mayle tracked down in the end zone for about a 40-yard touchdown reception against the second-team defense, and upon moving the offense closer, scrambled about 10 yards for the score.

Halliday continued to dominate as he worked the red zone, completing a trio of touchdown passes against the first-team defense. The redshirt senior hooked up with Drew Loftus twice, and completed a third scoring pass to Calvin Green.

For the most part, the offensive line held up during Halliday’s scoring bonanza.

“There was a few of those that they did well, and had some good protection up there,” McGuire said. “There were a few that Halliday did a really good job of getting rid of the ball and making things happen early. That’s part of it, too, but like I said, we’re close and have some time to come together, but we need to start making some bigger strides.”

ON THE OTHER SIDE of the ball, a predicament is brewing in the secondary similar to that of the offensive line. With the exception of Taylor Taliulu, a group of fresh faces is looking headlining the group as Isaac Dotson remains limited.

Leach mentioned true freshman Sulaiman Hameed, who is listed as a cornerback, and redshirt freshman Darius Lemora, as making an impact.

“He’s a real physical guy,” Leach said of Lemora. “He’s real physical, maybe the most physical of all of them, and when he plays disciplined, he does real good.”

Lemora said he is trying to be more vocal and confident on the field, and is also trying to improve his consistency.

“I just have to be more consistent with it, just not think too much, and play my game, play my sport, and do what I love to do, not worrying about starting or worrying about being second team or anything else,” he said. “I just want to play football.”

Leach said the coaching staff has zeroed in on a few candidates for the safety job, and that competition will have to continue to play out through camp.

Lemora, who has taken the first-team reps since Thursday, would clearly appreciate the opportunity, calling the opportunity to help his team “anything I want to do in this world.”

“I love football just like my boys love football,” he said. “That’s my brothers, that’s my teammates. The coaches are just like father figures to me so that’s what I do.

“If they want me to do this, I’m going to do it.”

NOTABLE NOTES
  • River Cracraft took almost all the reps at the Y receiver position on Sunday. Robert Lewis generally is in the mix, as well, but Cracraft lined up with both the first and second team.

  • A few shifts on the defensive line were made as well, with Daquawn Brown seen running with the second team defense.

  • Backup quarterback Luke Falk also had two touchdown passes in the red zone against the second-team defense, to Green and Loftus.

  • The offensive line also botched a snap with the second-team offense, leading to a fumble and a recovery by the defense.

  • Sebastian LaRue was still absent, and Leach said after practice that it isn’t too much of an issue because LaRue will have to sit out this season due to his transfer to WSU. Leach added that there has yet to be official confirmation that he will have to sit out, though.

  • Dotson, Cody O’Connell and Drew Springfield were all limited in practice.

  • Cougars baseball coach Donnie Marbut watched the entire practice from the sidelines.

    Primarily taking reps with the 1’s
    OFFENSE
    QB: Connor Halliday
    RB: Theron West
    X: Vince Mayle, Drew Loftus
    Y: River Cracraft
    H: Rickey Galvin
    Z: Kristoff Williams
    LT: Joe Dahl, Gunnar Eklund
    LG: Gunnar Eklund, Eduardo Middleton
    C: Riley Sorenson
    RG: Jacob Seydel
    RT: Cole Madison

    DEFENSE
    E: Destiny Vaeao
    NT: Robert Barber
    T: Kalafitoni Pole
    BUCK: Kache Palacio
    WILL: Tana Pritchard
    SAM: Cyrus Coen
    MIKE: Darryl Monroe
    CB: Charleston White, Tracy Clark
    FS: Taylor Taliulu
    SS: Darius Lemora

    Primarily taking reps with the 2’s
    OFFENSE
    QB: Luke Falk
    RB: Gerard Wicks, Marcus Mason
    X: Drew Loftus
    Y: River Cracraft
    H: Calvin Green
    Z: Isiah Myers
    LT: Devonte McClain
    LG: Sean Krepsz
    C: Sam Flor
    RG: Jacob Tweten
    RT: Jacob Seydel

    DEFENSE
    E: Darryl Paulo
    NT: Daniel Ekuale
    T: Xavier Cooper, Lyman Faoliu
    BUCK: Ivan McLennan
    WILL: Chester Sua
    SAM: Mitchell Peterson, Paris Taylor
    MIKE: Jeremiah Allison
    CB: Daquawn Brown, Kevin Griffin
    FS: David Bucannon
    SS: Beau Glover

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