Day 12: Early chewing gets Coug O in gear

PULLMAN -- Despite the dropped balls and a strong showing from the defense, the offense prevailed once again on the final play of Tuesday's team session when wide receiver Gabe Marks caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Luke Falk one-handed on a fade route in the end zone.

That final play left the defense doing up-downs while the offense celebrated. Despite the offense’s final push during the team portion of practice, the unit struggled earlier on in practice.

During the 7-on-7 drills, Falk overthrew a pass and had the next pass dropped by wide receiver Calvin Green. Another miscue came when Isaac Dotson intercepted Falk along the right sideline. The bright spot was a deep ball to fifth-year senior wide receiver Dom Williams, resulting in a touchdown. After up-downs were ordered for the offense, Falk threw touchdowns to Marks and wide receiver Tyler Baker. Falk completed 17 of 19 passes during the drill.

“We have to be more consistent. I thought we were inconsistent early on as you saw us doing a lot of up-downs,” Falk said.

Second-year freshman quarterback Peyton Bender also hit a few bumps early on during the 7-on-7 drills, and was nearly intercepted twice by linebacker Kyle Newsom. Bender completed 15 of 18 passes during the drill.

Leach addressed the offensive struggles early on with a loud pep-talk during practice peppered with a bit of colorful language.

By the time they reached the scrimmage portion of practice, the offense was more fluid. Falk completed 18 of 22 passes, with an interception off a deflected pass by Darius Lemora that senior linebacker Jeremiah Allison collected. Falk threw two touchdowns, including the one to Marks at the end, the other to Williams.

“We have to maximize our practices,” Falk said. “We don’t want to squander any plays and like Coach [Leach] said after practice, maximize the effort and the quality of the play to get the most out of it.”

During Falk’s team period, both second-year sophomore running backs (Gerard Wicks and Jamal Morrow) each recorded a touchdown. Morrow’s came on a hand-off from Falk, while under center, after he put the moves on a few defenders and escaped down the sideline. All three running backs have been capitalizing on the opportunities when the quarterback goes under center.

“It changes your mindset. Now that you are under center now you just want the ball. You kind of feel like a Marshawn Lynch back there, wanting to go Beast Mode when you get the ball under center because you are able to build speed faster than you are going sideways so you are just going downhill. That just gives you a physical mindset,“ Morrow said.

When it was Bender’s scrimmage turn, he completed 17 of 20 passes, including touchdown throws to Marks and D.J. Thompson. If it weren’t for a dropped pass by Thompson in the end zone on a later play, Bender’s touchdown tally would have been three. Facing the first team defense, Bender was nearly picked off by Pelluer.

The defense also forced and recovered a fumble, sacked Falk twice and forced him to throw it away once. The defensive line had moments of brilliance as they stuffed a few runs at the line. Both Leach and Falk recognized the strides that the defense is making.

“Early on you could tell they had a different energy but now they’re at the places they need to be and it’s a lot tougher to go up against them lately. Last week I struggled personally just because of how well they ‘re playing so it’s really good from a team standpoint and it’s frustrating but I’m really excited about what we got going over there,” Falk said.

  • The defensive line went offsides a few times more than usual during practice. When asked if they were playing with an adjusted snap count Leach replied: “No, we are playing with making them do up-downs if they jump offsides.” Time will tell if this helps their offsides issues in the future.

  • The special teams unit took to the field for about 20 minutes to practice kickoffs. Marks and Pippins were on the returns and Erik Powell was kicking. He put one kick into the end zone for a touchback.

  • A fight broke out during the 7-on-7 drill between Pelluer and wide receiver Robert Lewis after a physical play that resulted in a catch by Lewis. After the play, Lewis threw the ball at Pelluer in response to a chippy comment. Pelluer proceeded to grab Lewis by the facemask as the two tussled around on the turf for a minute before their teammates broke it up.

  • Among those limited in practice today were Nick Begg, Nate DeRider, River Cracraft and Brett Bartolone.

    Running with the ones:

    QB: Luke Falk/Peyton Bender
    RB: Gerard Wicks
    X: Dom Williams
    H: Robert Lewis
    Y: Tyler Baker
    Z: Gabe Marks
    LT: Joe Dahl
    LG: Gunnar Eklund C: Riley Sorenson
    RG: Eduardo Middleton
    RT: Cole Madison

    E: Darryl Paulo
    NT: Daniel Ekuale
    T: Destiny Vaeao
    RUSH: Kache Palacio
    WILL: Jeremiah Allison
    MIKE: Peyton Pelluer
    CB: Marcellus Pippins
    CB: Charleston White
    DB: Darius Lemora
    S: Taylor Taliulu
    S: Isaac Dotson

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