Spring Day 13: Falk bounces back

PULLMAN — Though the Cougars practiced in shorts and no pads on Day 13 of spring practices, that didn’t prevent the team from competing hard in team drills. The Crimson and Gray teams squared off for a bit at the end of practice, and the Crimson team got its hand raised thanks to walk-on Brendan Hay.

After a controversial call at the end of practice on whether third-year sophomore wide receiver Robert Lewis crossed the goal line or not, the outcome of the team scrimmage was decided on three final plays. First, second-year sophomore quarterback Peyton Bender threw a five-yard touchdown to fifth-year senior wide receiver Tyler Baker in the right corner of the end zone.

Then, third-year sophomore quarterback Luke Falk followed up with a five-yard touchdown run. With the score even at one in overtime, Bender took a snap out of the shotgun and tried to hit Baker again in the corner of the end zone, but this time junior walk-on cornerback Brendan Hay intercepted the pass to seal the win for the Crimson team.

“(Hay) came to the walk-on tryout, did a good job and played really well today,” coach Mike Leach said after practice.

Hay recorded another interception off of Bender earlier in the scrimmage.

“He showed up a couple days before spring football to walk-on because of some depth issues and he’s gotten a lot more reps, he or I would’ve anticipated,” defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said. “It’s fun to see a guy actually take advantage of it and you can recognize him for it.”

Another player in the secondary who looked solid today was third-year sophomore cornerback Charleston White. The Texas native broke up multiple passes during the one-on-one drills and rarely got beat in most of the team drills today.

“I think what you’re seeing with Chuck (Charleston White) is obviously a young player that needs to mature very quickly and obviously he’s had some game experience, which is good, but what he needs to make sure of is commitment to technique,” Grinch said. “What you can’t do is rely on athleticism, and you certainly don’t want a lot of reps where you’re eyes aren’t where they belong, your feet aren’t great, but because you’re a high level athlete you got to make up for all that. Then, in reality, that’s only going to take you so far, so the big thing for him is commitment and technique.”

“I believe the commitment is there,” he added. “Again it’s still not an every down thing like so many young football players, so I think he’s making progress.”

White said what allowed him to beat out most of the receivers today was him sticking with his technique and just being focused.

When asked who has impressed him most this spring on offense and defense, White couldn’t give out a specific name and instead gave credit to both units.

“I can’t probably seek out one person, but just as a defense, I feel like we’re flying to the ball better and playing with more confidence,” White said. “As an offense, they’re looking good out there. We’re just competing, everyday, just out here working hard.”

SWITCHING TO THE OFFENSIVE SIDE OF THE BALL, Falk had the edge over Bender today during practice. During seven-on-seven drills, Falk completed 15 of 21 passes for two touchdowns. Falk’s first throw during the drill was a touchdown pass to a wide-open, fourth-year junior wide receiver Gabe Marks running a vertical route. Falk seemed to take more shots down the field than in recent practices. There was one throw by Falk that should’ve been intercepted, but third-year sophomore linebacker Peyton Pelluer couldn’t hold on to the football as it went right through his hands.

“I was trying to do too much towards the end of spring, but I think the last two days I’ve just kind of gotten back to my old self and I think the team’s doing a real nice job with just being consistent,” Falk said.” The defense is doing a great job now of just being where they need to be and being tough and all that.”

Bender finished the drill completing 13 of 15 passes for no touchdowns. Lewis was the most impressive receiver in the drill today by catching five passes and a touchdown. Lewis ran a slant route across the middle and burned pass senior safety Taylor Taliulu for a score.

In the team scrimmage, Falk completed 9 of 11 passes for three touchdowns and did a nice job of moving around in the pocket. Falk and the Crimson team focused more on running the ball, which paid off. Third-year running back Jamal Morrow had a 35-yard touchdown run on the Crimson team’s first series.

“(Morrow's) gotten better, and better,” Leach said. “He’s bigger, and faster and also plays smarter, so he’s gotten better too.”

On Gray team’s first series lead by Bender, the team failed to score on its first drive. Overall Bender finished the day completing 8 of 15 passes for two touchdowns.

The Cougars will hold their annual spring game Saturday at 2 p.m., and it will be carried on Pac-12 Networks.

NOTABLE NOTES: • Players who were limited in practice today included Brett Bartolone, Nick Begg, River Cracraft, Erik Anderson, Marcellus Pippins.

• Fourth-year junior linebacker Paris Taylor, and second-year freshman defensive end Hercules Mata’afa each recorded a sack during the team scrimmage.

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