McGuire displeased with OL, Cougars' sync

PULLMAN— What is usually a relatively uneventful and casual Sunday evening practice turned out to be something different. There were developments and differences in participation levels, and some absences. And the practice began with the team rolling around in the Leach Beach, perhaps a not-so-subtle reminder the outcome on Friday night in Nevada wasn't acceptable.

“It’s just more of a reminder. There are just some inside things we want them to think about, and when they’re thinking of those things, that happens,” offensive line coach Clay McGuire said of the sand pit work.

Once drills and the team period began, it was obvious that the big frame of defensive lineman Xavier Cooper was kneeling on the sidelines while the rest of the first-team defense took its reps. Defensive coordinator Mike Breske said Cooper is doing fine, but it was interesting to see Daniel Ekuale playing in Cooper’s place.

It took a little while to realize that safety Teondray Caldwell was not in the house, but it became apparent when Sulaiman Hameed slid into the strong safety spot opposite of Isaac Dotson during the team portion of practice. There was another player wearing No. 34, but that appeared to be the taller, slimmer Kahshan Greene, a walk on.

Also, River Cracraft and Kristoff Williams were both wearing yellow jerseys during Sunday’s practice, but both were fairly active.

Cracraft was back to catching punts and he also worked with the receivers, although virtually no contact was made between the offensive and defensive players in the Sunday night session. Williams worked in drills and looked like he was walking around just fine, unlike linebacker Chester Sua, who was very limited.

Finally, Gabe Marks worked as a quarterback with the scout team offense just like he did last week. He even threw an impressively accurate pass that dropped into the hands of John Thompson over the defender covering the receiver. Thompson ran under the ball in the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown.

Marks is likely helping as the scout quarterback again because Portland State uses the pistol scheme that Nevada did. WSU hasn't definitively said they will redshirt Marks but he hasn't played in the first two games.

Breske said that seeing the same type of offense from week to week might help the defense get on a roll.

“I think it helps versus when you jump from one philosophy to the next to the next to the next,” Breske said. “There’s some carryover. They run some different plays than what we saw last week from Nevada, but the philosophy’s the same, and I think there is good carryover there.”

The Cougars hope the defense will perform well at the same time as the offense when they play Portland State on Saturday.

“We haven’t played together as a team yet,” McGuire said. “We play well offensively, and then we don’t play well defensively. We play well defensively the other night, and then don’t play well offensively. First and foremost, you’ve got to be a team first, and then we just have to focus on doing our job and our part, and with everybody doing that together we’ll have success.”

McGuire was not pleased with the way the offensive line played against Nevada, although the Cougars were able to run the ball for more yards than a week ago. Quarterback Connor Halliday took some shots and four sacks showed up on the final stat line.

“Last week we were not in sync,” McGuire said. “We should have been doing this when we were doing that. We weren’t giving good protection when we needed it. For whatever reason, we just didn’t play together as an offense and it showed. We had a horrible showing and didn’t put any points on the board.”

Despite that showing on offense, McGuire said he doesn’t want to shake things up just yet.

“With my position, you want to create as much unity as possible, so it’s not really something that you want to just throw in and rotate guys,” McGuire said. “I’ve never been really big on that. There’s guys that do it and they have success with it, but we believe that we need to get a group unified and together to go out and play well.”

The Cougars are now into their normal weekly routine and will not practice Monday, returning to the field on Tuesday.

  • Nick Begg, Chester Sua, Mack Hopkins, Kristoff Williams, River Cracraft, Cody O’Connell, and Nate DeRider all wore yellow jerseys today in practice, with varying levels of participation.

  • Sebastian LaRue was participating with the scout team defense on Sunday, which marked an increase in his playing time in practice from the previous few days. There has still been no official word on the status of his appeal.

  • Wide receiver Drew Loftus was practicing catching punts during practice and afterward.

    Primarily taking reps with the 1’s
    QB: Connor Halliday
    RB: Jamal Morrow, Theron West
    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

    E: Destiny Vaeao
    NT: Kalafitoni Pole
    T: Daniel Ekuale
    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: Robert Lewis
    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
    NT: Robert Barber
    T: Lyman Faoliu
    BUCK: Ivan McLennan
    WILL: Peyton Pelluer
    SAM: Paris Taylor
    MIKE: Jeremiah Allison
    CB: Patrick Porter
    CB: Marcellus Pippins, Tracy Clark
    FS: Isaac Dotson
    SS: Sulaiman Hameed

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