Effort against Ducks pleases Breske, McGuire

PULLMAN — An interesting group of defensive players came together again for Sunday night's practice, which as largely focused on special-teams work and drills. Once the team period began at the end of practice, it became clear that the guys who rose to the occasion against the Ducks on Saturday night might do the same in Utah this coming weekend.

Sulaiman Hameed, Jeremiah Allison, and Darryl Paulo all participated with the first-team defense on Sunday, and a couple of new faces joined the second-team defense as well.

Tracy Clark made his way back into the mix after starting the first game of the season and then losing his role to Charleston White. He had been passed up by Patrick Porter and Marcellus Pippins on the second team, too, but on Sunday, took some reps with the 2’s. Also, true freshman linebacker Dylan Hanser was working in the linebacking corps for the 2’s.

Defensive coordinator Mike Breske was not shy about substituting players on Saturday against Oregon as he used several linebackers and mixed Hameed with Taylor Taliulu and Darius Lemora at the safety position.

Breske said he was pleased with what he saw from Hameed, a true freshman who received his first action on Saturday on a larger-than-life stage.

“We knew he was going to play; we didn’t know how much,” Breske said. “I liked what he was doing, he had great effort out there, big stage for his first game. We were kind of giving him a little grief, a young man from Alameda High School, and what a way to start. He graded out the best at the safety position, and had a good game.”

During Sunday’s practice, Hameed leaped in the air and intercepted scout team QB Gabe Marks during the team period. Marks once again began this practice week participating as the scout team quarterback as Breske said the Cougars are preparing to face an up-tempo offense against Utah.

Breske said Hameed will likely be used on Saturday because the team wants to stay fresh. The higher altitude in Utah shouldn't affect the players too much, though, he said.

JEREMIAH ALLISON STARTED at the WILL position and turned in an impressive outing as well, finishing the night tied for the team lead with 10 total tackles.

“Jeremiah did a great job at the WILL position, played a lot of plays, played physical, and played fast,” Breske said. “His first start in his career, and we’re very happy with what he did, and just keep improving.”

A second consecutive start for Allison is uncertain, as Breske said the players use the entire week to compete for a starting spot in games.

The defense was able to sack Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota seven times in the game, five of those times in the first half. Breske said the Cougars needed to find ways to pressure Mariota for the entire game because there was indeed a drop-off in sacks in the third and fourth quarters.

However, Connor Halliday stayed relatively clean on Saturday, thanks to a WSU offensive line that continues to make strides, and was sacked just once and emjoyed a great pocket much of the time.

OFFENSIVE LINE COACH Clay McGuire said he was "really proud" of the effort, and that the team did "some good things." “I thought our guys came out intense and focused,” McGuire said. “We did some good stuff in pass pro. We’re still not running the ball as well as we can be.”

Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks combined for 69 rushing yards on 16 carries on Saturday. The Cougars use screen passes to replace traditional running plays at times, and McGuire said the line has been successful on those plays in part because they are playing better in space than they have in the past.

“Obviously those guys are good players, the running backs, but if we can’t block anybody out there, then why do it?” he said. “They’re good players when you get the ball in their hands, and we were able to run block at times. We’ve still got a lot of room to improve in that aspect, and need to get better at it.”

McGuire has high hopes for this offensive line, especially the right side that came in with little experience. He said that their athleticism has allowed them to escape trouble this season, and over time, they could develop into a great group.

“As a unit, we’ve just got to continue to build continuity and get better every week,” he said. “These guys still have a lot of potential that hasn’t been reached yet, and we’re nowhere near playing our best game yet. My biggest goal for these guys is to make sure they come out and they’re better next week than they were this past week.”

McGuire said that the dedication of center Riley Sorenson has led to the offensive line playing faster and with less hesitation as the season progresses.

Sorenson puts in time off the field watching film and he is now playing with more confidence because he can call out a front at the line of scrimmage that the whole line can execute, McGuire said.

  • Destiny Vaeao, Mitchell Peterson, Chester Sua, Isaac Dotson, Theron West, Nate DeRider, Nick Begg, Sherman Hutcherson, Mack Hopkins, and Drew Springfield were all limited on Sunday night.

  • Kristoff Williams was not seen at practice, and was limited last week. He did not play against Oregon.

    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: 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

    QB: Luke Falk
    RB: Gerard Wicks, Marcus Mason
    X: Dom Williams
    Y: Robert Lewis
    H: Calvin Green
    Z: Drew Loftus
    LT: B.J. Salmonson
    LG: Jacob Tweten
    C: Sam Flor
    RG: Cody O’Connell
    RT: Jacob Seydel

    E: Lyman Faoliu
    NT: Robert Barber
    T: Daniel Ekuale
    BUCK: Ivan McLennan, Dylan Hanser
    WILL: Tana Pritchard
    SAM: Paris Taylor
    MIKE: Peyton Pelluer
    CB: Patrick Porter
    CB: Tracy Clark
    FS: Sulaiman Hameed
    SS: Beau Glover

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