WSU Practice: Hard hits, solid mitts in TNF

PULLMAN—The Cougar D will need to limit Cal's big plays -- Cal scores 47.5 points per game, averages 4.2 yards per carry and 17 yards per catch. Meanwhile, Cal is young at the corner spots but that doesn't mean it will be easy for the Cougs to capitalize out on the islands. Defensive coordinator Mike Breske and outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons weigh in, plus Thursday Night Football action.

“I’d like to contain it and minimize it,” Breske said of the big plays. “We’ve got two explosive offenses here. They’re going to get their plays. We’ve got to do our job and minimize those plays, get third-down opportunities, and get off the field.”

WSU’s own passing game is bolstered by Dom Williams, who leads the team with six touchdown receptions, Vince Mayle and Isiah Myers, who each have five.

Simmons said said the pendulum of opposing coverage has swung from Mayle at the beginning of the season to Myers, which isn’t a bad problem to have. He said the team’s motto remains to make the opponent account for all five skill players on the field and if one is left open, the Cougars need to capitalize on that.

The Golden Bears have a sophomore and redshirt sophomore at the cornerback positions, but Simmons said that won’t necessarily matter.

“Those kids play hard, so when we get out there, we don’t do a survey of age,” Simmons said. “We’ve got to get out there and play hard, establish the tempo, be aggressive with our hands, and make plays. They’re not going to give us anything. They’re going to come in here and test us. They feel like they’re just as good as, if not better than, we are. If we don’t show up and be ready to play, we’ll be in for a long night and a rude awakening.”

Keith Harrington, a true freshman who is redshirting and listed on the roster as a wide receiver, has been making noise at the scout running back position of late. Thursday Night Football was no exception. The young defense put up their own fight, though, making several aggressive hits throughout the evening in Martin Stadium.

A few of the older non-starters made impressive plays on Thursday. Junior walk on Kyle Newsom intercepted a pass for the second straight week, this one coming off of a tipped ball from Luke Falk. Redshirt sophomore David Bucannon didn’t spare any love for the receivers as he broke up two passes with hits that could be heard easily even from high up and far away.

Redshirt sophomore Paris Taylor, who regularly works with the second-team defense, picked off Peyton Bender, and redshirt senior walk on Jeff Waldner sacked Luke Falk to add to the older defensive players’ highlights.

There were however many dropped passes, sometimes because of the defense and sometimes because of the receivers’ hands, but the quarterbacks managed to burn the defense with some touchdown passes too. On the first play of the "game," Falk threw a short pass to Gabe Marks and what looked like a short gain turned into a long touchdown after Marks broke a couple of tackles and then sprinted away.

Falk later found Barry Ware on a deep ball over Sebastian LaRue. When Falk was finished, Bender came into the game and eventually found Marks in the end zone for a red-zone score. Marks had to jump high to snatch the ball out of the air.

“He’s still improving,” Simmons said. “He knows a little bit more of the offense this week than he did last week, and we’re going at that pace. We’re just trying to get him caught up.”

Connor Ennis finished up the Thursday Night festivities. Out of the backfield, Harrington had four nice gains on a combination of runs and catches. One play looked like it would get blown up by the defense but Harrington sidestepped the incoming players and spun away from trouble, gaining a couple of extra yards.

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

  • Kristoff Williams was present though limited.

  • Sulaiman Hameed wore a yellow jersey but was a full participant in practice.

  • Tana Pritchard spent some time with the 1’s on defense before Thursday Night Football, but the WILL linebacker also participated with the younger group in TNF.

    Primarily taking reps with the 1’s
    QB: Connor Halliday
    RB: Jamal Morrow, Gerard Wicks
    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, Lyman Faoliu, Darryl Paulo
    NT: Kalafitoni Pole
    T: Xavier Cooper
    BUCK: Kache Palacio, Frankie Luvu
    WILL: Jeremiah Allison, Tana Pritchard
    SAM: Cyrus Coen
    MIKE: Darryl Monroe
    CB: Daquawn Brown
    CB: Charleston White
    FS: Darius Lemora
    SS: Sulaiman Hameed

    Primarily taking reps with the 2’s
    QB: Luke Falk
    RB: Theron West
    X: Dom Williams
    Y: Robert Lewis
    H: Calvin Green
    Z: Drew Loftus
    LT: B.J. Salmonson
    LG: Cody O’Connell
    C: Sam Flor
    RG: Jacob Tweten
    RT: Jacob Seydel

    E: Ivan McLennan
    NT: Robert Barber
    T: Daniel Ekuale
    BUCK: Frankie Luvu
    WILL: Dylan Hanser
    SAM: Paris Taylor, Mitchell Peterson
    MIKE: Peyton Pelluer
    CB: Patrick Porter
    CB: Marcellus Pippins
    FS: Beau Glover
    SS: Taylor Taliulu

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