Indoor practice warms up young Cougar D

PULLMAN — It’s not Thursday and it wasn’t held at night, but the Cougars still ran through another session of "Thursday Night Football" at the end of their Saturday practice. The Cougs moved indoors for an early morning session to get in some prep for Arizona State followed by a scrimmage featuring the younger players in the program.

Note: After the first 15 minutes, media were asked to leave before being allowed back in about 75 minutes later to observe Thursday Night Football.

The temperature inside the indoor practice facility was cranked up to help simulate some of what the Cougars will face when they travel to Tempe next weekend to face ASU. Oddly enough, Joe Salave’a did not wear his usual tank top, instead decking himself out in sweats.

“I think he’s kind of got his temperature gauges backwards," o-line coach Clay McGuire quipped. "He’s usually half-naked out in the freezing cold, and he comes in here and he’s in a sweatsuit."

McGuire said the decision to move indoors was related to simulating ASU conditions rather than avoiding the frozen tundra outside (in the 20s at practice time.) The second bye week has helped the Cougs, McGuire said, to recharge.

“It’s been good. Our kids feel like they’ve got their legs back under them. They’re excited. Obviously coming off a win, everyone’s good and we’re excited to get out there and get ready to play. They’ve got their legs back, we’ve got some good competition stuff in, and the kids are ready to go,” McGuire said.

Despite the extra time to watch tape and get in additional reps on the practice field, McGuire said the Cougars are not too interested in adding new wrinkles to their scheme during bye weeks.

“The philosophy has always been to just focus on what we do. It’s never been that we’re going to go out and out-scheme somebody. We’re going to go out there and be better at what we do than they are trying to stop it - so that’s been our coaches’ philosophy in the program,” McGuire said.

One scheme the Cougars used to subdue Oregon State’s offense was to pressure Sean Mannion, sacking him four times and applying pressure on several other occasions. But Mannion is not especially mobile. And ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly, meanwhile, can motor.

WSU linebacker coach Ken Wilson said he expects Kelly to be 100 percent by the time he faces the Cougars, (with each week Kelly has looked more and more like his old self returning from a foot injury.) It will be important to keep Kelly bottled up, Wilson said, but also to limit ASU running back D.J. Foster.

“Anytime we can put pressure on offenses in any fashion, that helps the secondary and it gives some deception. And when we get some good hits on quarterbacks, it helped us at Oregon. It’s helped us in some other games. Oregon State, obviously Mannion, getting him moving and getting people in front of him was an important key to that game," said Wilson.

The defense pressured QB Peyton Bender early in Thursday Night Football -- Hercules Mata’afa sacked Bender on one of the first few plays. After that, there were fewer sacks but the pressure was highly effective. Wilson said the pick-six made by Greg Hoyd on a pass from Connor Ennis on Saturday, and interceptions made in previous Thursday Night Footballs, are due to pressure and players being in the correct "drop" areas.

“(Hoyd) and Chandler Leniu are doing good. We’re trying to decide where to put them for spring ball. They’re both scouting at the same position (inside linebacker), with Peyton (Pelluer) and Darryl (Monroe) in there, so one of them is going to have to move over. Greg made a nice play, he was playing outside today, and he made a nice pick there so we’re just checking him out a little bit,” Wilson said.

Kingston Fernandez (pictured above) forced a turnover during one of Bender's drives that the freshman defensive end returned for a touchdown. A wall of players obscured the nature of the turnover but once Fernandez escaped, he was gone.

Walk on defensive back Dakota Sinchak also intercepted Bender on a deep ball, but Bender threw a long touchdown to John Thompson who dodged a tackle on his way to the end zone. Ennis connected on a long strike to Zaire Andre who appeared to score after corralling the ball.

  • Rickey Galvin, not unexpectedly after coming out of the game against OSU, was not seen at practice on Saturday. Robert Lewis practiced at the H receiver position for both the 1’s and the 2’s.

  • Calvin Green wore a yellow jersey but participated in drills.

  • Nick Begg, Brett Bartolone, Mack Hopkins, Kevin Griffin, Kalafitoni Pole, Sulaiman Hameed, Nate DeRider and Keith Harrington were limited in practice on Saturday.

    Primarily taking reps with the 1’s
    QB: Luke Falk
    RB: Jamal Morrow
    X: Vince Mayle
    Y: River Cracraft
    H: Robert Lewis
    Z: Isiah Myers
    LT: Joe Dahl
    LG: Gunnar Eklund
    C: Riley Sorenson
    RG: Eduardo Middleton
    RT: Jacob Seydel

    E: Darryl Paulo
    NT: Destiny Vaeao
    T: Xavier Cooper
    BUCK: Kache Palacio
    WILL: Jeremiah Allison
    SAM: Cyrus Coen
    MIKE: Peyton Pelluer, Darryl Monroe
    CB: Daquawn Brown
    CB: Charleston White
    FS: Darius Lemora
    SS: Taylor Taliulu

    Primarily taking reps with the 2’s
    QB: Peyton Bender
    RB: Marcus Mason, Theron West
    X: Dom Williams
    Y: Tyler Baker
    H: Robert Lewis
    Z: Drew Loftus
    LT: Devonte McClain
    LG: Cody O’Connell
    C: Sam Flor
    RG: Moritz Christ
    RT: B.J. Salmonson

    When the 2’s on defense took reps in the first 15 minutes, my view was obstructed from the corner of the indoor practice facility area where media was confined.


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