White, Molton, Luani, Dotson in WSU spotlight

PULLMAN -- The Cougars considered holding Wednesday evening’s practice in the bubble because of the smoke from the wildfires affecting much of the state. However, Washington State headed outside to Rogers Field after 10 minutes in the indoor practice facility and Cougar corner Charleston White (pictured above) made the most of his night, with a pair of picks against the scout team.

White’s picks came in the late stages of a late practice. The Cougs went until 11 p.m. after starting at around 8:30 p.m. in the IPF. White has missed time this camp with injury but where he’s been on the field and healthy, as he was last night, he’s been the Cougs’ best corner. Although true freshman Darrien Molton is becoming a big story too.

Molton rans with the 1s again last night, with Marcellus Pippins with the second string. Meanwhile, Isaac Dotson was at the nickel, with Shalom Luani sliding into Dotson’s strong safety spot. Darius Lemora has run with the 1s at nickel most of camp but Dotson has been getting more and more play here of late.

Mike Leach said yesterday on KJR the secondary has a lot of talented bodies but there will be new bodies here this season. Wednesday’s practice, as well as recent ones, would seem to bear out two of those new faces are Molton and Luani.

Meanwhile, in the final team session, as well as at the early stages of practice, the d-line and linebackers had their way with the scout team o-line, getting to the man with the ball on multiple occasions. But the No. 1 offense had plenty of their own to boast about.

At the end of the practice, the team session saw just a handful of snaps pitting the first-team offense against the first- and second- team defense. Then the first team offense faced the scout defense, and the first- and second-team defense took on the scout offense. Luke Falk received all but 10 of the first team snaps during the team session.

Falk hit Tyler Baker for a score, Robert Lewis for a big gain and Gabe Marks for a 15-yard play after he lost the defense. The running backs also had a good showing including a 13-yard touchdown from Gerard Wicks, with some additional big runs from both Wicks and Morrow. Keith Harrington also ripped off a few runs of 10 or more yards. During Peyton Bender’s 10 snaps with the first unit, he hit Lewis for a touchdown and also took a sack.

The Cougs ran through several small drills to start the practice including 7-on-7 drills for the offense against the scout defense. While the offense took on the scout team, the defense worked on reading motion and following the offense’s movements.

The defense worked on four separate drills where the players were broken up by position group. The drills focused on, you guessed it, taking the ball away (as has been the Cougs’ defensive focus all camp long under new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.

Later the defense worked on specific positional drills with their position coach. The linebackers worked on their coverage skills. The defensive backs worked on adjusting their hips to put themselves into position to pick off the quarterback. The d-line worked on getting through the offensive line with various moves. Finally, the linebackers worked on reading run plays and where to go in the gaps while the defensive backs worked more on their interception fundamentals.

While the defense was doing that, the Cougar receiving corps were doing a great job in their adjustments. Kyrin Priester had a few nice plays on the ball by either speeding up or slowing down for a reception. He’s one of those wideouts where the perfect pass isn’t always needed for a good play.

The offense also worked on just having receivers run various and adjustments to those routes depending on what the defender was doing, a core principle of the Air Raid.

“Preister works hard every time and tries to do exactly what you ask him to do,” outside receivers coach Graham Harrell said. “Because of that, he picks up things quickly. He’s done great.”

The first- and second-string D then went against the scout team offense. The d-line, as is so often the case in practice, soundly won the battle up front. Darryl Paulo, Robert Barber and Destiny Vaeao all worked through their repertoire of moves and caused lots of havoc.

With the 2’s, Lemora and Daniel Ekuale were quick to the ball carrier on multiple occasions. With the 1’s, Peyton Pelluer and Ivan McLennan had some nice plays on receivers and running backs. Vaeao and McLennan also combined for a very quick sack of scout team QB Connor Ennis.

The Cougs also worked on some special teams drills, most focused on the punt coverage and return. Marks, River Cracraft and Priester were the three returning punts.

Brett Schafer handled the kicks during full field goal drills. He was consistent and showed good height on most of his boots.

When the team moved to skeleton things were pretty much even with mostly routine plays. The first- and second-string offense faced off against their counterparts on defense in skelly. The defense had some nice stops including Frankie Luvu making quick decisions to get to the man with the ball multiple times.

Falk also had a little miscommunication with Marks and Dom Williams, leading to an incompletion. Meanwhile, third-string QB Tyler Hilinski worked against the third team defense in 7v7 and completed some impressive throws. He hit Kyle Sweet in stride for a long touchdown, Kaleb Fossum had a nice one handed catch and Erik Anderson had a diving catch as well. The most impressive defensive highlight for the third-team D: walk on Julius Yates-Brown who timed his jump and intercepted Hilinski for a pick-6.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Suli Hameed, C.J. Dimry and Cole Madison were among those not in pads. Jacob Seydel stepped in for Madison on the first team o-line. Baker wore a non-contact penny.

  • The team attended the celebration of life in honor of the late Dr. Elson S. Floyd on Wednesday.

    OFFENSIVE 1s
    QB: Luke Falk
    RB: Gerard Wicks
    LT: Joe Dahl
    LG: Gunnar Eklund
    C: Riley Sorenson
    RG: Eduardo Middleton
    RT: Jacob Seydel
    X: Dom Williams
    Y: River Cracraft
    Z: Gabe Marks
    H: Robert Lewis

    DEFENSIVE 1s
    DE: Darryl Paulo
    NT: Robert Barber
    DT: Destiny Vaeao
    Rush LB –Ivan McLennan
    WIL LB – Jeremiah Allison
    MIKE LB – Peyton Pelluer
    NICKEL CB: Isaac Dotson
    CB: Darrien Molton
    CB: Charleston White
    FS: Taylor Taliulu
    SS: Shalom Luani



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