PULLMAN— Recent arrival and true freshman wide receiver Barry Ware participated in Thursday Night Lights for the first time with Washington State. But he sure didn’t look like a green, just-out-of-high-school newcomer. Another true freshman, running back Squally Canada, made the most of his opportunities also behind a focused, physical Cougar offensive line.
Ware made multiple receptions on the night, one of which was a touchdown toss from Connor Ennis
that seemed to travel right through the defender and into Ware’s hands.
The Thursday Night Football game fell on the "correct" day of the week for the first time after a pair of Thursday and Friday night games to begin the season.
Freshman running back Squally Canada
meanwhile ripped off some good runs and was able to impress offensive line coach Clay McGuire
, even when the gains weren’t enough to move the chains.
“We gave him some holes today, but you can see he runs really hard. He’s a big, physical kid. He can move,” McGuire said. “Some of his most impressive runs today are ones that he only got two yards on. He’s just bouncing off people and running over people just to get minimal yards.”
Canada showed some more of that physicality late in Thursday Night Football, breaking free from tacklers and moving well through the young offensive line blocking for him.
“He’s got really good feet and he’s a big physical kid. Like I said, a lot of these, he’s bouncing off tacklers and stiff-arming and arm tackles, which is good because you can’t have huge, giant holes every time,” McGuire said. “You’ve got to have a guy who can go through those kind of things.”
One of those offensive linemen, redshirt freshman Carlos Freeman
, appeared to get into a fight during the Thursday Night festivities, although it was hard to tell with all the bodies that quickly swarmed to the situation. Scrum or no, McGuire said that Freeman does indeed have an edgy attitude.
“That’s one thing we really liked about him in high school recruiting him, was his toughness and how gritty he was on the football field,” McGuire said. “He’s an Oklahoma wrestler and all that kind of stuff. We just wanted to get that toughness and that kind of stuff out of him, and obviously first year freshmen go through their freshmen deals, and he’s starting to get back that mentality we liked when we recruited him.”
McGuire said that wrestlers often transition well into offensive linemen because they understand leverage and balance. Good wrestlers also have good core strength, McGuire said, and in his experience, the track record of wrestlers becoming football players has been exceptional.
Another redshirt freshman, Cody O’Connell, has returned to full action after being in a yellow jersey and participating in a limited role during much of fall camp.
“He’s doing well. He’s full go, he’s practicing well, and we’re excited about the things he’s doing right now, and he’ll just continue to work more and more into it,” McGuire said of O’Connell.
It wasn’t all about the young guys on Thursday, though.
scout team QB Gabe Marks
before Marks switched to wide receiver for the Thursday Night game. Unlike Wednesday's session, Marks was pressured often by the 1’s and 2’s on the defensive line and in the pick by Brown, the heat by the defense led to the takeaway.
Connor Halliday and Isiah Myers kept their chemistry alive by connecting for another touchdown before Thursday Night Football began.
Rickey Galvin and Jamal Morrow took the majority of the reps returning punts on Thursday.
The defense made it difficult on the receivers in Thursday Night Football, as David Bucannon and Marcellus Pippins made athletic pass-breakups during the game. Pippins defended a ball thrown to Ware in the end zone, and the 5-10 cornerback was able to knock the ball down before 6-2 Ware could grab it for the score.
The defensive line also was able to force quarterback Luke Falk to fumble by pressuring him and stripping the ball at the beginning of TNF.
Teondray Caldwell, who began the season as a starting safety, participated in Thursday Night Football and did not work with the defensive 1’s and 2’s.
Overall, the Thursday Night Football group has come a long way since the first session of 2014.
“We started out real bland and vanilla, and then the defense has definitely thrown in more packages at us,” McGuire said. “The young offensive line and the backs are really getting to see a bunch of different blitz packages that is really going to help them when they go into spring ball.”
Running back Theron West wasn’t visible at the start of practice today, although I saw him come in late on Tuesday afternoon so it's possible I didn't see him arrive.
Kristoff Williams, Chester Sua, Mitchell Peterson, Isaac Dotson, Nick Begg, Nate DeRider, Drew Springfield, and Mack Hopkins were limited in practice today.
Marks had a pair of TD receptions during Thursday Night Football, both on throws from Peyton Bender. Marks may have stepped out of bounds in the process of catching the second ball but it was allowed to stand.
Freshman quarterback Andrew Reding spent most of the time watching from the sidelines.
Primarily taking reps with the 1’s
QB: Connor Halliday
RB: Jamal Morrow
X: Vince Mayle
Y: River Cracraft
H: Rickey Galvin
Z: Isiah Myers
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, Marcus Mason
X: Dom Williams
Y: Robert Lewis
H: Calvin Green
Z: Drew Loftus
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: Jeremiah Allison
SAM: Paris Taylor
MIKE: Peyton Pelluer
CB: Patrick Porter
CB: Marcellus Pippins
FS: Sulaiman Hameed
SS: Beau Glover