PULLMAN — An energized group of Cougars practiced in the rain on Tuesday, preparing for their bitter rivals from Seattle who also know their way around a little precipitation. The practice began with pep and that continued throughout the day, but one player’s absence stuck out.
Wide receiver Vince Mayle
(pictured above) was nowhere to be seen on Tuesday as Dom Williams
and Drew Loftus
manned the X position while Isiah Myers
and Calvin Green
split time at the Z. Mike Leach
said after practice that he expected Mayle to play on Saturday, and then quipped, “We’re all healthy, why wouldn’t we?”
As for putting Green at the Z, Leach gave the simple answer that Green is a good receiver and that the team will work him in to see what he can do.
Mayle limped off the field against Arizona State near the end of the first half, but he returned to the game and finished with 252 receiving yards.
The energized practice was acknowledged by offensive line coach Clay McGuire
, whose group in the trenches have a tough rivalry battle this weekend against the Huskies.
“It was good,” McGuire said. “I thought we came out and we started practice fast and I feel like we finished it off pretty well.”
The Cougars harped on the fact that they don’t scheme much for particular players on the opposing side and simply focus on what they do. McGuire did use the “S” word on Tuesday regarding the Huskies’ pass rush, though.
“It’s one of those things that, if everything’s working together, it works a lot better,” McGuire said. “If you’ve just got one guy that can do something, you can always scheme around that. When you’ve got four guys out there, you can’t scheme just one person up.”
The Huskies’ defensive front presents a challenge for the Cougars in that they have three players within the top 30 in the country in terms of sacks per game. BUCK linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha leads the nation in total sacks with 17.5.
“They play really fast, really confident, and they’ve got a ton of sacks this year, and they’re not off blitzes,” McGuire said. “They’re off of mostly pass rush stuff. Their two edge guys do a great job of getting upfield and their defensive tackles do a good job of collapsing the pocket on them.”
The Huskies defensive line doesn’t remind McGuire of any others in the conference. UW is second in the Pac-12 with 45 sacks this season.
“They are deep up front, and they understand their strengths and they turn those guys loose and let them go to go after the quarterback,” McGuire said.
While the defensive line the Cougars will face may not be reminiscent of any this season, they have seen many mobile quarterbacks this season. Defensive coordinator Mike Breske
said the team will just need to refocus on Cyler Miles, who has 14 touchdown passes compared to two interceptions this season, along with four rushing scores.
The lack of turnovers by Miles has been largely due to several short passes out of the option and underneath routes, Breske said, but he also added that the Huskies will take their shots downfield.
The energy that was observed by McGuire came from his players, too, but that might have been because they had to go against a defense that also was riled up on Tuesday. The offensive and defensive lines participated in a drill where they lined up normal, and then one player from each side was isolated to block against the other. The offensive linemen held off their defensive counterparts for a while, and the quarterbacks were able to step away from pressure most of the time.
There was a time when Xavier Cooper
beat Gunnar Eklund
on a block, and then there was another time where Sam Flor
subdued Ngalu Tapa
and Frankie Luvu
each recorded sacks on the day. Monroe got to Ennis in the backfield, while Luvu was able to sack Gabe Marks
, who reprised his role as mobile quarterback simulator on Tuesday.
, who started against Arizona State, intercepted Ennis on Tuesday, and Breske stressed that when a guy like Pippins gets an opportunity, he needs to produce, which is what the true freshman has been doing lately.
“It’s why he started,” Breske said. “We wanted him out there, he had a good week of practice, and I think if you practice well, you should play well.”
The defensive backs practiced shedding blocks from receivers Tuesday and it looked as though they struggled. Most of the time, they could not shed the first block before the second offensive player ran past them.
Gerard Wicks and Cole Madison participated in practice. Wicks took snaps with the 2s on offense and took participated in the contact portions of practice. Madison was less involved and did not participate in anything that required significant contact.
McGuire said there is a “great chance” of seeing some time on Saturday, depending on how he feels this week.
Nick Begg, Nate DeRider and Brett Bartolone were limited.
Primarily taking reps with the 1s
QB: Luke Falk
RB: Jamal Morrow, Theron West
X: Dom Williams
Y: River Cracraft
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
T: Xavier Cooper
BUCK: Kache Palacio
WILL: Jeremiah Allison
SAM: Cyrus Coen
MIKE: Peyton Pelluer
CB: Daquawn Brown
CB: Marcellus Pippins
FS: Darius Lemora
SS: Taylor Taliulu
Primarily taking reps with the 2s
QB: Peyton Bender
RB: Gerard Wicks
X: Drew Loftus
Y: Tyler Baker
H: Robert Lewis
Z: Calvin Green
LT: Devonte McClain
LG: Cody O’Connell
C: Sam Flor
RG: Moritz Christ
RT: B.J. Salmonson, Cole Madison
E: Ivan McLennan
NT: Robert Barber
T: Daniel Ekuale
BUCK: Frankie Luvu
WILL: Tana Pritchard
SAM: Paris Taylor
MIKE: Darryl Monroe
CB: Patrick Porter
CB: Charleston White
FS: Beau Glover
SS: David Bucannon, Sulaiman Hameed
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