WSU Practice: A barrage of plays by the 1s

PULLMAN — Sunday was hardly the day of rest for Washington State’s football team. In fact, it was the opposite as skills were flashed on both sides of the ball, even though it was mostly against scout-team competition. Nevertheless, there were plenty of highlights during the practice, including a plethora of interceptions by the secondary and a barrage of passes from the quarterbacks.

Even a couple of fights broke out during the session. Each drew several players to the scene, and the first fight escalated so quickly that a huddle surrounded the players in the middle before it was possible to tell who started it.

The second altercation occurred between running back Squally Canada and linebacker Darryl Monroe, which occurred after Canada had been stopped for a loss multiple times, but also after a few strong runs by the freshman rusher.

Monroe had to be coaxed by his teammates to walk away, and soon after, the players resumed their work.

Indeed, there was plenty of work accomplished during the session.

Daquawn Brown put on a show with his ball-hawking skills, picking off two passes, from Peyton Bender and Connor Ennis. He also almost intercepted Bender again by jumping the route, but instead leaped in front of the receiver and emphatically swatted the ball to the ground.

“I thought it was good; I thought we bounced around pretty good,” Leach said. “Sloppy in places, but good energy, and just have got to keep improving.”

Taylor Taliulu also seemed to want in on the action, snatching two balls out of the air for interceptions against the scout offense. One was in triple coverage, where he just happened to be in front of the intended receiver, but the second one was in man coverage, and he leaped up to contest the pass and pull it away from the target.

Rookie cornerback Marcellus Pippins, who practiced with the 2’s, also made an interception against Ennis.

In addition to the fights, the day did not without some aggressive tackles as well. Brown made a strong tackle against Canada in the backfield, and linebacker Chester Sua wrapped up a couple of offensive players and personally escorted them to the turf in brutal fashion.

This came after defensive coordinator Mike Breske had told CF.C on Friday that one of his primary concerns heading into the Rutgers game was the defense’s ability to tackle.

It didn’t seem to be a problem on Sunday.

“The most important thing on defense is tackling,” Leach said. “The most important thing on offense is blocks, so you’re always concerned about those two things. Those are the fundamentals that both sides of the ball start with.”

Connor Halliday completed one of his longest passes of the day to Vince Mayle for a 45-yard touchdown, and then made long completions to Calvin Green and River Cracraft against the scout defense, too. The completion to Green was about a 30-yard touchdown, while Cracraft was touched near the end zone.

Bender didn’t throw interceptions all day, though, making a long pass that freshman Connor Simpson caught deep downfield for a substantial gain against the first-team defense. Canada also caught a deep pass from Bender against the first-team defense.

Overall, the adrenaline seemed high throughout the session, which will surely be the case on game day. If the team does come out flat on Thursday, it will be against a team that Leach called tough and gritty. Beyond playing without strong effort like the team did Sunday, Leach offered another possibility for flopping in the season opener.

“We just need to keep working on basic fundamental stuff,” he said. “Keep building and keep improving.”

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • The special teams used four primary gunners in Sunday’s practice. Cyrus Coen, Darius Lemora, Taylor Taliulu and Calvin Green ran down the sidelines repeatedly; a far narrower scope of players for that position than was seen in previous practices.

  • Gabe Marks was fully active in practice, but participated with the scout offense for the majority of the day.

  • Barry Ware still has not shown up to practice, absent from all sessions up to this point. He and Deion Singleton, another oft-absentee, are no longer listed on the roster.

  • Offensive line coach Clay McGuire stayed longer after practice to work with B.J. Salmonson on snapping. McGuire said that the team can never have too many guys ready to play there, and that he is always trying to develop players who can play center.

  • Cody O’Connell, Drew Springfield, Jeff Farrar and Nick Begg were all limited in practice Sunday.

    Primarily taking reps with the 1’s
    OFFENSE
    QB: Connor Halliday
    RB: 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, Drew Loftus
    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
    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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