WSU Practice: All about protection

PULLMAN — A lively offense took the field in Thursday Night Football, which occurred on Wednesday because of the travel day to Stanford tomorrow. Although the weekly calendar is off with it being a Friday game, the protection for the quarterbacks and running backs was on, o-line coach Clay McGuire said after practice. And the special teams drills also featured some interesting developments.

“It was much better,” McGuire said. “For us, it’s been much better. The blitz pickup has been a lot better, and when we have run the ball, we’ve run it pretty decent. Squally [Canada] busted a big touchdown run today. It was good to see out of that. I thought Peyton Bender looked real good out there. He looked more comfortable and it’s a lot better when you pick it up protection-wise.”

That run by Canada went about 25 yards and the freshman running back burned around the right edge and had plenty of space between him and the defenders by the time he reached the end zone. Peyton Bender and Luke Falk moved the ball well during the scrimmage, and Falk began the game with two first-down throws to Gabe Marks and Daniel Lilienthal. He completed another first-down throw to Marks soon afterward.

Bender made some passes for first downs, too, and he had a big touchdown to Brett Bartolone that was for about 40 yards. Bartolone caught the ball, ran to about the 10-yard line, and then fought during the rest of the distance for the score.

Freshman defensive back Jeff Farrar picked off Falk after the quarterback drove the team down the field efficiently, and Farrar took the ball all the way to the other end of the field, although nobody bothered to chase him down.

Defensive coordinator Mike Breske said Wednesday’s practice was polished, and that there were a lot of good plays on the field, including the interception by Farrar. The 1s and 2s for the defensive line were able to pressure the scouts early in practice.

When asked where he would like to see growth this week, especially with the young guys on the team, Breske suggested a mindset that would allow the players to make plays similar to Farrar’s.

“I think you look at yourself and say, ‘I want to be that guy that makes a play.’ Be in that situation and make a play,” Breske said.

McGuire said that among his starting offensive line, the most improved player on the once inexperienced right side is Riley Sorenson (pictured above). The coach said the whole unit has played consistently well together, though, and that they continue to improve each week.

“We’re going to need to,” McGuire said. “That’s been our main goal all year, is to get a week better every week. I thought they played well last week. There’s obviously a lot of room for improvement. We get one more yard in that game, we win it, and that’s where we’ve got to go out and find a way to get that yard. That’s what we focus on this week with ourselves and get a week better.”

In order to get any yards on Friday against Stanford, McGuire said that everyone on the o-line will need to do their job in staying on their blocks against the Cardinal’s physical defensive front.

“The thing about these guys is they’re tough kids and they’re coached really well and coached really hard. They don’t get tired,” McGuire said of Stanford’s players. “You play teams and there are definitely times where you wear guys out, and this is a group that plays every snap. That’s something they do as good as anybody in the country.”

During the special teams period of practice, Vince Mayle reprised his role from Tuesday as a kick returner, and he returned two balls for touchdowns. The coverage teams weren’t operating at full speed, but they weren’t exactly playing slowly either. River Cracraft returned a punt for a touchdown and was taking the reps as a punt returner with Rickey Galvin limited.

Redshirt freshman Ryan Bordner, who transferred from Idaho and has been little in practice for the last couple of weeks, split time at kicker with Jordan Dascalo on Wednesday. Bordner did not kick it far as Dascalo, but that’s to be expected because of Dascalo’s impressive leg strength.

That power was on full display when Dascalo once again participated as a field goal kicker. From 28 yards away on the right hash, the coverage team managed to block Dascalo’s field goal attempt, but the ball still had enough juice to travel through the uprights on an almost-centered trajectory. Quentin Breshears, who famously missed against California from 10 yards closer, made an extra point attempt and a 32-yard field goal on Wednesday, but then proceeded to miss to the right from about 40 yards away. He also apparently missed from about 30 yards away because the kick was waved off by assistants, although it looked close enough to have also made it from my view.

  • Joe Dahl won the Bone award this week for keeping the pocket wide and for playing well in one-on-one match-ups and run blocking against California, McGuire said. This is Dahl’s second consecutive time earning the award and his third time this season.

  • Rickey Galvin, Chester Sua, Isaac Dotson, Nick Begg, Mack Hopkins, Drew Springfield, Parker Henry, and Nate DeRider were limited on Wednesday.

  • Kristoff Williams was not seen at practice for the second straight day after showing up and participating on Monday.

  • Dom Williams was present and practiced fully on Wednesday after being limited on Monday.

    Primarily taking reps with the 1s
    QB: Connor Halliday
    RB: Jamal Morrow, Gerard Wicks
    X: Vince Mayle
    Y: River Cracraft
    H: Calvin Green
    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: Jeremiah Allison
    SAM: Cyrus Coen
    MIKE: Darryl Monroe
    CB: Daquawn Brown
    CB: Charleston White
    FS: Darius Lemora
    SS: Sulaiman Hameed

    Primarily taking reps with the 2s
    QB: Luke Falk
    RB: Theron West
    X: Dom Williams
    Y: Robert Lewis
    H: Tyler Baker
    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, Darryl Paulo
    BUCK: Frankie Luvu
    WILL: Dylan Hanser
    SAM: Mitchell Peterson
    MIKE: Peyton Pelluer
    CB: Patrick Porter
    CB: Marcellus Pippins
    FS: Beau Glover
    SS: Taylor Taliulu

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