WSU Practice: Lewis gearing up; TNF report

PULLMAN— The Y receiver position raised a “why” question after Wednesday's practice. Over on the youthful side of things, the Cougs ran through their Thursday Night Football routine on Wednesday, with the Friday night game at Reno on tap this week.

River Cracraft sat out for (mostly) the third consecutive day on Wednesday. On Monday, Cracraft wore a yellow jersey and did not participate in practice, but on Tuesday, the receiver lost the yellow covering and stood on the sidelines, passing the ball back and forth occasionally. On Wednesday, Cracraft spent time standing with the quarterbacks, watching them throw passes to the other receivers on the field.

Offensive line coach Clay McGuire, however, said he expects Cracraft will be on the field on Friday. He wouldn’t be the first starter to miss extensive practice time during the week and then wind up playing. But if not, the Cougs will have an opportunity to test their extensive depth at wideout.

Robert Lewis (pictured above) received most of the reps at the Y position and looked good, especially on one play. Lewis caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Connor Halliday during the team period before the Thursday Night Football festivities. Tyler Baker also saw time at the Y during Wednesday’s practice.

Why not move one of the H receivers over to the Y in practice? Outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons said that the receiver spots are somewhat interchangeable but he also said that they like where they have originally placed their players on the field.

“We all look at the same film and we have to have a working concept of what the guy is doing next to us, so at the end of the day, we want to put our best four out there at time,” Simmons said.

So it’s not inconceivable that if Cracraft and/or Lewis were unavailable because, either Rickey Galvin or Calvin Green, the mainstays at the H, might slide over to the Y. In the meantime, Baker got some valuable practice reps.

Cracraft was a big part of the scheme in the opener, recording eight receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown. And when one player thrives, they all do, said Simmons.

“I think that’s all a part of the system. We want to make them respect all five skill guys, whether it’s River, or whether it’s Rickey Galvin on the other side, or whether it’s one of the running backs, Theron West, Gerard Wicks or Jamal Morrow in the backfield,” Simmons said. “We want to make them account for all five skill guys, so anytime anyone at the other skill positions is being successful, it helps.”

The Nevada secondary is filled with upperclassmen, which means the Cougs will face an experienced group. But that is perhaps furthest thing from Simmons’ mind.

“If we’re worried about what they’re going to do, then we’re not focused on what we’re doing,” Simmons said. “They’re practicing against us, and we’re practicing against their scheme, so the only thing we can worry about is making routine plays, catching, turn and tuck, and getting straight upfield.”

In Thursday Night Football, the Cougars were hit-and-miss, but particularly lacking in the running game, according to McGuire.

“It was okay. Up front, we started off well pass-pro-wise. We didn’t run the ball worth a crap, and got real sloppy on the way back,” McGuire said. “A lot of things that we didn’t pick up that was easy stuff that they’ve seen a lot of, so I thought it got real sloppy toward the end.”

Running back Squally Canada did find the end zone for a touchdown in the red zone at the end of the practice, shining a little light on an otherwise darkened running game.

Gabe Marks, who has been simulating Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo against the defensive 1’s and 2’s this week, donned his normal No. 9 jersey and made several catches during Thursday Night Football.

Unlike real games, one should not read too much into the early season results of these Thursday Night practice matchups, McGuire said. Although they are conducted at full speed and with full contact, they aren’t a completely fair assessment of the players who participate in it.

“These guys don’t get a lot of reps at running our plays through the week,” McGuire said. “Most of them are on the scout team, and then on top of that, we’ve got a lot of blitz and stunts in there, a lot of things that you really probably wouldn’t run the ball into, but we’re trying to get some work on it. I wasn’t real pleased with, them coming off the ball, how physical they were.

“We’ve got to get it corrected up, and if that’s what you get, that’s what you get, and you have to make yards on it either way.”

Luke Falk and Connor Ennis both fumbled the ball during Thursday Night Football, and Peyton Bender was “sacked.”

Also, a big brawl broke out at the halfway point, and that led to a couple of smaller, more isolated fights that still drew in a pile of players. No real damage seemed to be done, though.

  • Rickey Galvin and Jamal Morrow practiced returning punts during the special teams period.

  • Erik Powell and Quentin Breshears each took reps at field goal kicking, and Powell missed two mid-range attempts by hooking them to the right.

  • Daquawn Brown tipped a pass from Gabe Marks during the team period and could not corral the interception himself. Luckily for the first-team defense, Taylor Taliulu was close by to reel in the turnover.

  • Halliday completed 20-yard touchdown passes to Kristoff Williams and Calvin Green during the team period.

  • Cody O’Connell, Drew Springfield, Nate DeRider, and Mack Hopkins were limited in practice.

  • Tight end Nick Begg was not present at practice on Wednesday. Neither was quarterback Andrew Reding, who was a new walk on addition to the roster as of Tuesday.

  • The other six new walk ons on the roster were present on Wednesday. They had varying levels of participation on the scout teams.

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

    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: Charleston White
    FS: Taylor Taliulu
    SS: Darius Lemora

    Primarily taking reps with the 2’s
    QB: Luke Falk
    RB: Gerard Wicks
    X: Dom Williams
    Y: Tyler Baker
    H: Calvin Green
    Z: Isiah Myers
    LT: Joe Dahl
    LG: Jacob Tweten
    C: Sam Flor
    RG: Cody O’Connell
    RT: Jacob Seydel

    E: Darryl Paulo, Lyman Faoliu
    NT: Robert Barber
    T: Daniel Ekuale
    BUCK: Ivan McLennan
    WILL: Chester Sua
    SAM: Mitchell Peterson
    MIKE: Jeremiah Allison
    CB: Tracy Clark
    CB: Marcellus Pippins
    FS: Teondray Caldwell
    SS: Isaac Dotson

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