PULLMAN — The obvious assumption is that assistant coach Clay McGuire’s favorite player is an offensive lineman. Think again. Instead, McGuire said on Thursday night that true freshman defensive end Hercules Mata’afa (pictured above) could challenge anyone on the roster for that distinction.
“Hercules is arguably my favorite player on the team,” McGuire said. “If we had 105 guys that played football like him, approached the game like him, carried themselves like him on the field and everything, we’d be pretty dang good.”
McGuire said Mata’afa will get a sack and then he will bounce right back ready for the next play. He said Mata’afa displays great strength and plays at full speed every play.
Mata’afa joined a robust defensive group in Thursday Night Football that rushed the passer and only allowed two scores in the scrimmage. The quarterbacks were rushed at times and were forced to complete short passes to the side and over the middle. Kyle Newsom
and Drew Griffin
each recorded solo sacks, and on two other instances, a group was able to reach the quarterback and record a collective sack.
“They did a good job,” linebackers coach Ken Wilson said in regard to the pass rush. “Last week, the offense had a pretty good day so I think our guys were a little motivated tonight. They had a good day, the pass rush was good, and the coverage was really good. I’m really proud of those young secondary guys. They did a nice job tonight.”
McGuire said the young offensive line played average in Thursday Night football. He mentioned Cody O’Connell, Andre Dillard
, Sean Krepsz
and Carlos Freeman
as players who could be in the mix for a starting job next season.
“For the most part, we picked up the right guys,” McGuire said. “We could definitely be firmer and keep the pockets wider in there for those guys.”
Wilson said Griffin is training to become a SAM linebacker after coming in as a defensive back, and Newsom will play at one of the inside linebacker positions in the future. Griffin has a chance to compete for a starting job at the SAM position once he learns the ins and outs of the linebacker role.
The battle for the MIKE linebacker position is a lot closer than it is at the SAM, though. Wilson said Peyton Pelluer
and Darryl Monroe
are pretty much even, which makes sense because both have taken reps with the 1s this week.
“We’ll see how it goes tomorrow and on Saturday, we’ll see how they play,” Wilson said. “Peyton’s going to start the game and we’ll see how it goes, but it’s a close battle.”
began the Thursday night scrimmage with completions on his first four pass attempts, but then the defense settled in, shutting down most of the offense’s plays and not allowing them to advance deep downfield.
Defensive back Jeff Farrar
jumped high in the air and in front of one passing route, only to get both hands on the ball and bat it down without collecting the interception. Linebacker Reggie Coates
also was able to bat a ball up in the air, but he could not get under it before it fell to the ground.
That enabled the offense to gradually move downfield to set up a 23-yard touchdown pass from Bender to Gabe Marks
in the end zone over the defender.
completed a deep touchdown pass to Daniel Lilienthal
later in the game for the other score of the night.
Earlier in practice, Ennis had a rough time against the 1s and 2s on defense. Ennis intercepted by Paris Taylor
, Daquawn Brown
and Taylor Taliulu
, concluding a week filled with turnovers for the redshirt freshman quarterback.
Cole Madison has been present at practice this week; however, he has been wearing a hooded sweatshirt without a jersey so it was difficult to identify him. He was present on Thursday as well, but just like the rest of the week, he was inactive.
Nick Begg, Isaac Dotson, Mack Hopkins and Nate DeRider were the other limited players on Thursday.
Calvin Green wore a yellow jersey but participated in most of Thursday’s practice.
Gerard Wicks was present today and in a hooded sweatshirt on the sidelines. He did not participate.
Tracy Clark was not seen at practice on Thursday.
Primarily taking reps with the 1s
QB: Luke Falk
RB: Jamal Morrow
X: Vince Mayle
Y: Tyler Baker
H: Rickey Galvin
Z: Isiah Myers
LT: Joe Dahl
LG: Gunnar Eklund
C: Riley Sorenson
RG: Eduardo Middleton
RT: Jacob Seydel
E: Destiny Vaeao, Darryl Paulo
NT: Kalafitoni Pole, Destiny Vaeao
T: Xavier Cooper
BUCK: Kache Palacio, Frankie Luvu
WILL: Jeremiah Allison
SAM: Cyrus Coen
MIKE: Peyton Pelluer, Darryl Monroe
CB: Daquawn Brown
CB: Kevin Griffin
FS: Darius Lemora
SS: Taylor Taliulu
Primarily taking reps with the 2s
QB: Peyton Bender
RB: Theron West, Marcus Mason
X: Dom Williams
Y: River Cracraft
H: Robert Lewis
Z: Drew Loftus
LT: Joe Dahl
LG: Gunnar Eklund
C: Sam Flor
RG: Riley Sorenson
RT: Eduardo Middleton
E: Ivan McLennan
NT: Robert Barber
T: Daniel Ekuale
BUCK: Frankie Luvu
WILL: Dylan Hanser
SAM: Paris Taylor
MIKE: Darryl Monroe
CB: Charleston White
CB: Marcellus Pippins
FS: Beau Glover
SS: Sulaiman Hameed
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