WSU Practice: Breske feeling 'real good'

PULLMAN — Football coaches qualify most everything in fall camp – it’s rare when one just comes right out and says he feels damned good about his particular position, or the defense/offense as a whole. And that’s understandable because they haven’t gone up against the competition yet. But WSU defensive coordinator Mike Breske after Friday’s practice, he just told it like it is ...

“I feel real good,” said Mike Breske. “We had our Sunday night practice on Friday, and we had a good run-around. Our defensive line is healthy and playing fast, and our tempo is going to start with our defensive line, come Thursday. With our depth there and our experience there, I’m excited to watch them play.”

Breske said that the defensive line has a solid two-deep unlike his first two seasons in Pullman, with Robert Barber, Daniel Ekuale and Darryl Paulo backing up Toni Pole, Xavier Cooper and Destiny Vaeao. That has been the case throughout fall camp, but it’s significance will likely become most apparent when the Cougars play the Scarlet Knights because of the scheme Rutgers uses.

Their offense is oriented around an efficient running game that included two running backs last year, Paul James and Justin Goodwin. Rutgers also utilizes a fullback and a tight end, which is a system that the Cougars have had to replicate during their practices.

“It’s always a challenge. It’s one of those things we have to be sound with fundamentals, and the football 101 doesn’t change,” defensive line coach Joe Salave’a said. “Those are the challenges we have to manufacture this week and the weeks to come as far as preparation for those types of offenses.”

Breske said he believes the defense’s speed is adequate to keep up with Rutgers’ style, but he did say that the Cougs will have to make a vast adjustment from defending against the Air Raid, as they have done much of camp.

Heading into the matchup versus Rutgers, Breske’s chief concern is the Cougs’ ability to properly wrap up and tackle, to limit the number of yards after contact. Because Mike Leach limits the number of times the Cougars fully scrimmage against each other, that restriction can take a toll on the defense’s tackling in the first game or two. Indeed, that is always a big question mark going into the first game of the season, Breske said.

The players’ technique has been strong, though, so if practice makes perfect, the defense should be alright in its debut.

As the practices have grown in number, the itch to hit somebody other than fellow WSU personnel is growing stronger with each day.

“We’ve been practicing against the offense since spring ball, and all of fall camp,” Breske said. “That’s a lot of practices against the same guys. It’s exciting to be looking forward to a new challenge in different-colored jerseys.”

One thing that is still developing even more than technique is the character of the defense. Breske said that is different every single year.

“I think each defense has its own character. I don’t know what that character of this defensive unit for 2014 will be yet,” Breske said. “I think, through the course of the season, we’ll develop whatever that character is, and that chemistry, and we’ll see what it’s like.”

Some of that identity showed up on Friday night as all the players gathered in huddles toward the end of practice and rallied around leaders like Darryl Monroe and Daquawn Brown, who jumped and yelled in the center of the scrum.

There was nothing fancy about the beginning to the week of the Rutgers game. The Cougars practiced under a sprinkling sky on Friday night, but did not run in an 11-on-11 full team period like they do on most nights. Instead, they participated in separate team periods during which the first and second teams ran against the scout teams, but even those segments were brief.

Indeed, the Cougars went about their business quickly as they have moved away from fall camp and are now fully focusing on the game against Rutgers on Thursday.

NOTABLE NOTES:
Gabe Marks was fully active and practicing with the first and second team receivers, taking reps in drills.

Rickey Galvin was present and fully active a day after I didn’t see him on Thursday.

Freshmen Patrick Porter and Sulaiman Hameed practiced with the scouts, which is somewhat new because they both received reps with the second team defense during fall camp – the logical inference would be it could signal Leach’s plan to redshirt both of them.

David Bucannon, Jeffery Farrar, Cody O’Connell and Nick Begg were limited in practice.

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

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

Primarily taking reps with the 2’s
OFFENSE
QB: Luke Falk
RB: Gerard Wicks
X: Dom Williams
Y: Robert Lewis
H: Calvin Green
Z: Isiah Myers
LT: Gunnar Eklund
LG: Devonte McClain
C: Sam Flor
RG: Cody O’Connell
RT: Jacob Seydel

DEFENSE
E: Darryl Paulo, Lyman Faoliu
NT: Robert Barber
T: Daniel Ekuale
BUCK: Ivan McLennan
WILL: Chester Sua
SAM: Mitchell Peterson
MIKE: Jeremiah Allison
CB: Charleston White
CB: Marcellus Pippins
FS: Darius Lemora
SS: Isaac Dotson

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