Day 5: Cougs suit up for down & dirty battles

LEWISTON, Idaho – In the first day in full pads, the Cougars got straight to competition with tough drills pitting offense against defense. The one-on-one drills featuring wide receiver against defensive back finished with a decided 27-12 win for the defense. Most of the issues came from pass break-ups from numerous players including Charleston White, Paris Taylor and Darrien Molton.

One offensive highlight came from Kyrin Priester, who snagged a beautiful one-handed catch at his knees against sophomore cornerback Pat Porter. Priester, a redshirt freshman, isn’t expected to play this year because he transferred from Clemson, however, coach Mike Leach isn’t so sure.

“We have an appeal in to possibly bring Priester into the fold this year,” Leach said. “There have been seven other appeals granted, so I expect to see his granted.”

Watching Priester is a little like watching a combination of Vince Mayle and Isiah Myers – he is a very athletic guy, and it shows during practice, where he has been a constant source of trouble for defensive backs.

Leach seemed pleased with the overall effort shown in practice.
“We’ve had good intensity, and after five days some guys are looking a little tired,” he said. “However, I thought we had good effort and everyone tried really hard.”

After a poor showing in the one-on-one time between wide receivers and defensive backs, the offense was on the hunt to prove itself in the way it had the prior two days. During the skeleton, the defense had great movement and flew to the ball, with Peyton Pelluer, Parker Henry and White making an excellent showing against Falk. Shalom Luani (pictured above) also stepped in front of a Luke Falk pass headed for Priester, and sent the defense into a frenzy with its first interception of the day. Falk also had some success as he hit Gabe Marks and Dom Williams for good grabs to start the drill. He also connected with Kyle Sweet on a great through three defenders.

Peyton Bender took over and helped the offense take a big lead. Among the highlights, John Thompson was popped by Luani midway through the drill, but Thompson was able to hang on. Darius Lemora and White swarmed Keith Harrington on a swing pass out of the backfield. Tyler Baker continued his great camp with a catch sliding between Hunter Dale and Drew Griffin. Colton Teglovic broke up a pass over the middle for Sweet.

As the offense headed for the goal line portion of skeleton, it led 30-23.

“I just tried to do my job,” Bender said. “I didn’t get too high or too low, I just came out and made good reads.”

Each quarterback threw several passes down at the end zone, giving the defense a lead. However, Falk and Bender combined for three straight touchdowns to give the offense a one-point victory, 40-39. Falk threw a bullet to John Thompson, and Bender hit Jamal Morrow and Marks.

Marks was visually thrilled and loud saying, “I did it again, I helped us win again.”

In the 11-on-11 session that closed practice, Bender began and had the offense up 7-1 at one point. Baker had a great full-extension catch as the ball floated over the defender for a 15-yard gain. On straight plays, Ivan McLennan and Jeremiah Allison sacked Bender.

Two plays later, the defense got a strip-sack against the young QB. Harrington then made a nice one-handed catch and ran for 15 yards to make the score 9-8 offense.

However, on the next play it was Harrington’s turn to cough up the ball. As he fought for extra yards, five defenders clawed at the ball before it popped out and into Taylor Taliulu’s hands. The defense closed the gap again to make it 12-11, as they held the offense out of the end zone for Bender’s entire team time.

Although Bender couldn’t break through with a touchdown, he also didn’t throw an interception.

“Coaches tell me not to try to not do too much, and I think the first few days I tried to do a little bit too much,” Bender said. “So today, I tried to cut down on that and make the easy throw, but if the big play is there, take the shot.”

Falk saw the tight score, and he wasn’t going to lose. He got several quick points for the offense pushing the score up to 17-13. Gerard Wicks helped the most with a 30-yard run through the right side.

Falk also threw in some read option and gained about seven yards, fooling the defense when he pulled the ball from Morrow’s gut. Baker had a huge grab in front of Taliulu, and shook off the senior safety to gain an extra five yards. Morrow had a big run through the defense for the offense’s final points to open up a 29-14 lead.

The defense closed on three straight good plays: A short Wicks run swallowed up, a White tip away from Marks at the front right pylon and a sack from Kache Palacio.

“It was competitive and fun today,” McLennan said. “Coming out for the first day with full pads was great. We’ve done so much two hand touch, and not a lot of hits, it feels good to finally play some football.”

Notable Notes:
  • Erik Powell and Brett Schafer both went 3-for-5 for kicking. Powell missed an extra point and a 35-yard field goal; Schafer missed from 35 and 47 yards. However, both made 45-yard field goals to close the kicking display.

  • In punting practice, Zach Charme appeared to have the best distance-wise, but he three of his seven attempts were blocked. Powell started off with a 60-yard boomer, but tapered off to around Charme’s average of nearly 40 yards per punt, and shanked his last attempt just 15 yards.
  • Kyle Sweet and Tyler Baker had another good day in the absence of River Cracraft. Both had a handful of grabs in traffic both with the 1s and the 2s.

    Running with the 1s Offense
    QB: Luke Falk
    RB: Gerard Wicks/Jamal Morrow (Keith Harrington)
    LT: Joe Dahl
    LG: Gunnar Ecklund
    C: Riley Sorenson
    RG: Eduardo Middleton
    RT: Cole Madison
    X: Dom Williams
    Y: Tyler Baker
    Z: Gabe Marks
    H: Robert Lewis

    Defense
    DE: Darryl Paulo
    NT: Daniel Ekuale
    DT: Hercules Mata’afa
    Rush LB – Kache Palacio/Ivan McLennan
    WIL LB – Jeremiah Allison
    MIKE LB – Peyton Pelluer
    NICKEL CB: Darrien Molton
    CB: Charleston White
    CB: Marcellus Pippins
    FS: Taylor Taliulu
    SS: Isaac Dotson


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