WSU Practice: Jeremiah Allison now a starter

PULLMAN— WSU defensive coordinator Mike Breske noted a change in the projected starting lineup for Saturday’s game against Oregon. He was also impressed by the young defensive players’ aggressiveness and speed on Thursday. Indeed, a stalwart youthful defense took a stranglehold over Thursday Night Football, limiting the youngsters on offense to one true touchdown and forcing multiple turnovers.

As far as the players in the regular rotation on gamedays, there were a few wrinkles on Thursday. Breske said that Jeremiah Allison will take Tana Pritchard’s spot at the WILL linebacker position against Oregon.

“I think he’s starting this weekend and we’ll go from there. By no means is Tana not going to play,” Breske said. “We always want to keep competing, competing, competing within ourselves on defense, and that’s how we feel we get better.”

The defensive line also looked very different on Thursday as defensive end Destiny Vaeao and nose tackle Kalafitoni Pole both were not seen practicing. Vaeao has been limited this week, but Pole has been present and participating up until this point. Breske said Pole is still in great standing with the team, though.

This game against Oregon will require the coaches to do a good job substituting from the sideline, and it is an opportunity for lots of players to play and receive substantial reps, Breske said.

However, it is simply another opportunity in Breske’s mind as he said the team must maintain an inward focus throughout the game.

“It’s our next opportunity. We’re concerned about ourselves, how we perform, how you perform individually, our rise-up board, not the scoreboard,” Breske said.

Offensive line coach Clay McGuire echoed the same sentiment, saying that the Cougars must execute their plays versus what the Ducks do, rather than focusing on all the things that Oregon might throw at them.

Meanwhile, the Cougars’ defense of the future got plenty of heat on the young offensive players during Thursday Night Football, winning the day by a healthy margin.

“They came out and just played a lot harder than we did,” McGuire said. “We didn’t execute very well, they were blitzing pretty much every single play and we weren’t picking it up or weren’t getting rid of the ball, so it looked terrible.”

The defense forced a fumble on the first play of the "game," and freshman defensive end Kingston Fernandez recovered the loose ball and ran it back for a touchdown. A few plays later, Gabe Marks fumbled the ball after being tackled, but the ball trickled out of bounds instead of turning into something negative.

The barrage from the defense continued with what appeared to be an interception by Beau Glover against Luke Falk, although the obstructed view from outside Martin Stadium made it difficult to see the play. Glover did return to plain view with the ball and was greeted with high-fives and cheers from the defense.

Peyton Bender replaced Falk and had mixed results. He moved the ball slightly better than Falk but he was "sacked" once by freshman defensive end Hercules Mata’afa and again by a group of defenders. Later during the drive, Bender completed a touchdown pass to Brett Bartolone in the red zone to add a positive to his day.

Bender completed another pass that went for a long touchdown, but it was technically a sack. The defensive line pressured Bender, as it did to all the quarterbacks and running backs all night, and Bender was tapped before he threw the ball. However, he spun away and then found a wide open Dewan Lee Thompson downfield, who caught the ball and ran it the rest of the way for the score.

The defense recorded a couple more sacks before the night ended, and Mata’afa ran around the side of the offensive line to get to Connor Ennis and knock the ball away from him for another fumble.

Perhaps Breske said it best when he said the defense created "havoc."

McGuire plans on the game Saturday against Oregon being a totally different story, one told by a starting offensive line that he said has improved steadily from week to week.

“I don’t expect to get exposed anywhere. We’ve got a plan going in, and our guys are excited to play these guys and we’re going out there to do our job and get after them,” McGuire said.

McGuire also said that the offensive linemen are conditioned to a point where the coaches don’t have to substitute for them as much as they do at other positions. The men up front need to develop continuity together, and so the team doesn’t like to substitute for them if they don’t have to do so.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Quentin Breshears missed a kick wide left from about 35 yards away during the special teams period. He is listed as the starting kicker on the depth chart for Oregon.

  • Nick Begg, Isaac Dotson, Nate DeRider, Drew Springfield, Mack Hopkins, Sherman Hutcherson were limited in practice on Thursday.

  • Kalafitoni Pole, Destiny Vaeao, and Kristoff Williams were not seen at practice on Thursday.

  • Theron West and Chester Sua were seen before practice, walking into the Football Operations Building, but they did not appear to make it down to the field to participate in any activities.

    The defense played a mixture of the normal 1’s and 2’s on Thursday, so the players listed are those who are the projected first and second team defenses heading into Saturday:
    Primarily taking reps with the 1’s
    OFFENSE
    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

      DEFENSE
    E: Darryl Paulo
    NT: Kalafitoni Pole
    T: Xavier Cooper
    BUCK: Kache Palacio
    WILL: Jeremiah Allison
    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
    OFFENSE
    QB: Luke Falk
    RB: Gerard Wicks
    X: Dom Williams
    Y: Robert Lewis
    H: Calvin Green
    Z: Drew Loftus
    LT: Gunnar Eklund
    LG: Jacob Tweten
    C: Sam Flor
    RG: B.J. Salmonson
    RT: Jacob Seydel

      DEFENSE
    E: Lyman Faoliu
    NT: Robert Barber
    T: Daniel Ekuale
    BUCK: Ivan McLennan
    WILL: Tana Pritchard
    SAM: Paris Taylor
    MIKE: Peyton Pelluer
    CB: Patrick Porter
    CB: Marcellus Pippins
    FS: Sulaiman Hameed
    SS: Beau Glover

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