Thursday Night Football déjà vu

PULLMAN — Freshness was on the minds of the Cougar coaches on a crisp fall day. They have stressed that this bye week is a time to regroup, heal and hone skills, and that was readily apparent by the way the team practiced on Thursday. Several young players were featured for a second consecutive practice during Thursday Night Football, particularly along the offensive line.

“Those kids get one week to go play live-type plays, and if you can do it two days in a row like the old guys get, you can definitely see some consistency growing there and it’s good for those guys,” offensive line coach Clay McGuire said.

Luke Falk was victimized for two interceptions by redshirt sophomore Willie Roach, one of which followed a simulated sack by redshirt junior Reggie Coates, before the play continued. The other interception came on a lob pass that Falk perhaps threw indecisively. Roach actually almost had a third interception on a pass from Falk that turned into a touchdown.

Falk threw into the end zone in the direction of Gabe Marks, and the ball looked like it had disappeared into Roach’s hands, but in fact, it passed through them and reappeared in Marks’ grasp for the score. Peyton Bender relieved Falk and was sacked as well by Coates from the blindside and was forced into a fumble on that play. David Bucannon almost intercepted one of Bender’s passes, but the ball bounced off of the redshirt sophomore’s hands as he dove in the air.

The highlight of Bender’s series was probably the completion he made to Tyler Baker for a first down, which turned into much more when Baker evaded a couple of defenders and moved farther downfield for about a 20-yard gain.

“Obviously Luke is ahead of Peyton as far as knowing how to run the offense and being able to check and change and things like that,” McGuire said. “But as you go through the last couple weeks, Peyton has really done a nice job of understanding and knowing where the ball is going pre-snap, and understanding the run game a little bit better.”

Mike Leach said both quarterbacks do a lot of good things, but Falk had the better day of the two on Thursday.

McGuire said this week is about freshening up the offensive linemen, and Leach added that he wants the receivers to steadily improve before the next game and resting them, as well. Keeping players fresh might have been the reason that Jacob Seydel spent significant time at the left guard position on Thursday. It also could have been due to Seydel’s performance.

“He’s practicing well right now, and on an off-week, we’re working on freshening these guys up,” McGuire said. “We’re moving guys around, just experimenting with some things to see how it works. The offensive line coach said that it is far too early to say whether Seydel is taking over that spot and uprooting current starter Gunnar Eklund, who was present at practice and did receive time at the position, too.

Leach said Seydel has been steady and has progressively improved. He added, somewhat vaguely, that if he beats somebody out, then he will be the starter.

Backup center Sam Flor has seen a lot more time in the middle of the o-line during the last two practices because of Riley Sorenson’s absence. McGuire said he is in the same sort of position as Seydel as the coaches experiment and move guys around during the bye week.

“That’s what you always work for, and we’re not quite there yet,” McGuire said. “You want to have that kind of depth where every week we come out and compete for a job. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re heading in the right direction. We have a little bit more quality depth than we had in the past, and we’re able to move some guys around and make them compete for their jobs.”

This week has given the younger players more time to watch film, go to position meetings and receive one-on-one instruction. Instead of learning the opposing team’s offense to help run against the starting defense, the reserve offensive linemen have been able to improve their own game, McGuire said.

  • Keith Harrington and Thomas Hearn received the reps at running back during Thursday Night Football.

  • Toni Pole, Charleston White, Riley Sorenson, Daquawn Brown, Darius Lemora, and Calvin Green were absent on Thursday.

  • Darryl Monroe, Rickey Galvin, Isaac Dotson, Kristoff Williams, Dewan Lee Thompson, John Thompson, Parker Henry, Nate DeRider, Nick Begg, Mack Hopkins and Drew Springfield were limited on Thursday.

  • Connor Halliday threw a touchdown pass to Vince Mayle for 20 yards into tight coverage by the first-team defense.

  • Jamal Morrow ran for a huge gain against the first-team defense, thanks to a strong block by Isiah Myers on the outside.

  • Luke Falk threw a touchdown pass to Drew Loftus against a mixture of first- and second-team linebackers and defensive backs.

    The 1s and 2s listed below are not truly representative of the depth chart. Due to the bye week, some players have been given the time to freshen up, so their absence from the chart is not particularly significant at this point.

    Primarily taking reps with the 1s
    QB: Connor Halliday
    RB: Jamal Morrow
    X: Vince Mayle
    Y: River Cracraft
    H: Robert Lewis
    Z: Isiah Myers
    LT: Joe Dahl
    LG: Gunnar Eklund, Jacob Seydel
    C: Sam Flor
    RG: Eduardo Middleton
    RT: Cole Madison

    E: Darryl Paulo
    NT: Destiny Vaeao
    T: Xavier Cooper
    BUCK: Kache Palacio
    WILL: Jeremiah Allison
    SAM: Cyrus Coen
    MIKE: Peyton Pelluer
    CB: Marcellus Pippins
    CB: Patrick Porter
    FS: Taylor Taliulu
    SS: Sulaiman Hameed

    Primarily taking reps with the 2s
    QB: Luke Falk
    RB: Gerard Wicks
    X: Dom Williams
    Y: Brett Bartolone
    H: Tyler Baker Z: Drew Loftus
    LT: Gunnar Eklund
    LG: Jacob Seydel
    C: Sam Flor
    RG: Cody O’Connell
    RT: Cole Madison

    E: Ivan McLennan
    NT: Robert Barber
    T: Daniel Ekuale
    BUCK: Frankie Luvu
    WILL: Dylan Hanser
    SAM: Paris Taylor, Mitchell Peterson
    MIKE: Tana Pritchard
    CB: Tracy Clark
    CB: Kevin Griffin
    FS: Beau Glover
    SS: Colton Teglovic

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