WSU Spring Day 2: D Can't Contain Gabe Marks

PULLMAN — Though the Washington State defense seemed to have the edge on the second day of spring practices, there was one player it could not stop: Gabe Marks. Plainly, the fiery wide receiver, long known for trash-talking and hauling in circus grabs against tight coverage in one-on-one drills and scrimmages, was back to tormenting the Cougars secondary Saturday in Pullman.

That is good news for WSU fans after Marks redshirted last season.

On Saturday, the redshirt junior was simply happy to be back on the field working with his teammates after spending much of last season on the scout team, where he played quarterback and wide receiver.

“Being back with the offense and guys is big,” Marks said. “I still got my work in (at wide receiver). My routes are still good and everything like that, but it just feels good to get next to Leach again and getting called plays and working with Luke (Falk) and all the guys again.”

Even though Marks hasn’t played in a game since the 2013 season, when he hauled in 74 catches for 807 yards and seven touchdowns, he said he feels like a better player than he was then.

“My sophomore year I kind of tailed off at the end a little bit and I wasn’t strong enough and I still need to gain some weight,” Marks said. “I feel a lot stronger and faster now this year instead of tailing off towards the end of the season.”

Marks caught three balls during the team scrimmage and scored one touchdown. The redshirt junior caught a screen pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Peyton Bender and then escaped the defense to take it to the house.

During the 7-on-7 drills, Marks caught four balls. Redshirt freshman quarterback Luke Falk completed 14-of-19 passes during the drill and found redshirt sophomore Gerard Wicks for a touchdown. Bender finished completing 13 of 16 passes. Again, freshman quarterback Tyler Hilinski spent his time working with the scout team.

Even though the Cougars were practicing in helmets and shorts, there were still a couple fights that broke out during the drill between the receivers and the secondary. One included senior linebacker Jeremiah Allison and junior receiver John Thompson. Allison gave Thompson a little “love tap” with his shoulder as Thompson was trying to haul in the ball, but instead fell straight to the ground.

Outside wide receivers coach Graham Harrell took notice of the competitive drive on both sides of the ball.

“The one thing that I’m proud of so far the first few practices… it’s starting to look more like the Tech days… with how hard they are competing,” Harrell said. “That’s just coach sending that message that everything we’re going to do, we’re competing, and I think this team is really buying in to that.”

DURING THE TEAM SCRIMMAGE, it looked like the defense was ready to walk away with a second straight victory over the offense. However, the Cougars decided to run the ball more, which eventually opened up the passing game. Morrow and Wicks each tallied a touchdown run. Again, the outcome of the scrimmage was decided by the last play of the game.

Both the offense and defense were energized on the sidelines as the play was about to develop. Sophomore cornerback Pat Porter tried to help out his fellow corner Charleston White on a read by saying, ‘He’s going to Gabe.’ However, Falk dished out a one-yard screen pass to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Robert Lewis, which gave the offense the victory on the day.

“It was big (to get the win over the defense), I was really excited about that,” Marks said. “The other day we lost it at the end with a couple run plays, but I’m really happy we got that win.”

A bright spot in the secondary was sophomore safety Sulaiman Hameed, who nearly picked off a pass in the team scrimmage from Bender. Hameed also broke up multiple passes during the drills against the wide receivers. Afterward, the Oakland, Calif. native said the secondary has a long way to go before the season begins, but is progressing nicely. Facing the Air Raid offense in practice should only serve to help their development.

“We see a lot of passing offenses in the Pac-12, so you know it’s a lot of things we’re going to see on a weekly basis, so it helps,” Hammeed said.

The Cougars will hold their third spring practice on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. PST.

NOTABLE NOTES:

  • Redshirt sophomore Erik Powell was taking punting reps again.

  • Players who were limited included redshirt junior WR Brett Bartolone and sophomore LB Frankie Luvu.

  • After the team scrimmage and during the head-to-head drill between offense and defense, another fight broke out between both units and lasted for a couple minutes.

  • CLICK HERE for WSU's spring roster

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