Grinch using DB youth to WSU's advantage

PULLMAN -- New Washington State defensive coordinator and secondary coach Alex Grinch is using the defensive back youth to his advantage in fall camp. The returning starters and impact players in the secondary have learned quickly from Grinch from what I've seen, and they continue to absorb everything their coach says.

“He has really helped me learn how to read the offense and see what they’re doing,” sophomore corner Marcellus Pippins said of Grinch (pictured above). “He’s making sure my technique is right in all areas. He’s had a big impact for me.”

Pippins isn’t the only Cougar to feel Grinch’s impact early in camp. Third-year sophomore safety Isaac Dotson has been playing both safety and nickel back in camp.

“I like that [the coaches] are moving me up there (at nickel back),” Dotson said. “I like to be able to be a versatile player on the field.”

Fourth-year senior safety Taylor Taliulu is learning lots from Grinch, too.

“He has impacted my game tremendously. Just sitting with him in the meeting room, you can see he knows what he’s talking about,” Taliulu said. “He puts us in the right spot to make plays.“

Taliulu is the elder statesman of the secondary, and he’s doing everything he can to be a coach on the field.

“I’m trying to get everyone to play at a high level, and have them push me to play at a high level,” he said. “To be the leader, I try to be vocal, get everyone line up and get physical.”

Taliulu and Dotson have great chemistry, Dotson said, and that helps the game flow.

“He’s my boy, he’s like a brother to me,” he said. “Having Taylor back there helps with communication to the secondary and the rest of the team easier too.”

Taliulu is also helping lead the cornerbacks as well.

“He's impacted me (greatly). As the senior, letting me know what to do is key for our defense,” Pippins said. “Communication is great, and I’m learning a lot along the way.”

Fall camp is now two weeks old, and plenty of work remains before WSU's defense can climb into the upper half of the Pac-12. But the defense has shown improvement in almost every area these first two weeks. The Cougars young secondary has shown one of the biggest improvements. It should only continue as the freshmen and sophomores gain experience.

The Cougars, as you may have heard a time or 20 this offseason, are hugely focused on increasing a woeful 2014 takeaway stat. The Cougar secondary was responsible for but one of the team’s only three interceptions, and the DBs forced three of only nine fumbles.

There are a number of things that go into causing turnovers, Grinch said.

“One thing is having confidence. The call comes in from the sideline, where they’re aligning and what they’re assignment is for that play,” Grinch said. “The confidence allows for aggressiveness and that aggression gives chances to make a play on the ball.”

As fall camp has progressed, the crimson stop corps has assimilated the new schemes quickly -- they've looked sharper and more driven under Grinch. The secondary is improving and forcing both tough and poor throws at a higher clip. The proof, though, won't come until Saturdays in the fall.

But things are looking up on D as the Cougars get ready to polish off their second week of fall ball.

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