Bender settles in for Thursday Night Football

PULLMAN – The Cougars’ backup quarterback stepped into the Thursday Night Football spotlight and looked a little more comfortable than in past days, but unfortunately Peyton Bender also turned the ball over a few times.

In his first action of Thursday Night Football, Bender looked calm in the pocket during a drive that included an 18-yard completion to Kainoa Wilson. Bender anticipated the route Wilson would run and had the ball out of his hands before the wide receiver finished his break. Bender capped the drive off with a beautifully thrown ball to Kyle Sweet in the end zone.

After the team switched sides, Bender ran into a little trouble. He led Xavius Boone into too much traffic causing Boone to get popped, and Andrew Hecker came down with an interception. A few plays later, Pat Porter picked off Bender on a pass intended for Tavares Martin Jr. Bender subbed out, and in came TNF regular Tyler Hilinski.

The freshman got some help from his running game when James Williams bounced off an unblocked linebacker and ran 28 yards to pay dirt. Ngalu Tapa blew up a screen pass, giving Coates just enough time to sack Hilinski a few plays later. A scary moment happened near the end zone when Sweet took a huge hit from Dylan Hanser, causing his helmet to fly off. A few plays later, Nnamdi Oguayo recorded a sack, but Hilinski responded with an 18-yard touchdown to James Williams.

Finally, Christian Jorgenson took the field and had some struggles. Receivers dropped some balls, he over threw a few and he was sacked big by Greg Hoyd III.

Before Thursday Night Football the team went through some of its routine plays and setups. The offense ran some 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 against the scout defense while the defense ran drills and gap work with the scout offense. The offense also worked on wide receiver drills individually and in route combination drills. The defense finished its pre-Thursday Night Football work with 11-on-11 against the scout offense. The defense had three interceptions against the scout offense with one coming from Charleston White, Marcellus Pippins and Kirkland Parker.

The special teams work continued with a high volume of reps for all sorts of sides to special teams, including punt vs. scouts, scout punt vs. return, kickoff vs. scouts, and scout kickoff vs. return. Coach Eric Mele also ran some high-pressure field goals against a live defense. The team even practiced a field goal at the buzzer to win a game, which Erik Powell hit from around 45-yards out as coach Joe Salave’a counted down the simulated game clock.

Notable Notes
  • Isaac Dotson was not seen at practice for the second straight day, and defensive coordinator Alex Grinch was not available for inquiries about Dotson.

  • Matt Abramo, Suli Hameed, Amosa Sakaria, T.J. Fehoko, Michael Cole, and C.J. Dimry were limited Thursday.

    Offensive Thursday Night Football
    QB: Peyton Bender, Tyler Hilinski, Christian Jorgenson
    RB: James Williams, Alijah Lee
    LT: Andre Dillard / Cedric Bigge-Duren
    LG: Cody O’Connell / Noah Osur-Myers
    C: Sam Flor / Carlos Freeman
    RG: Moritz Christ / B.J. Salmonson
    RT: B.J. Salmonson / O’Connell
    X: Erik Anderson, Kaleb Fossum
    Y: Kyle Sweet
    Z: Xavius Boone / Kainoa Wilson
    H: D.J. Thompson

    Defensive Thursday Night Football
    DE: Jeremiah Mitchell / Hunter Mattox
    NT: Ngalu Tapa / Devonte McClain / Austin Brown
    DT: Reggie Coates / Jacob Laird
    Rush LB: Dylan Hanser
    WIL LB: Nate DeRider
    MIKE LB: Chandler Leniu
    NICKEL CB: Treshon Broughton / Colton Teglovic / Darius Lemora
    CB: Pat Porter / David Bucannon
    CB: Andrew Hecker
    FS: Hunter Dale / Skylar Cracraft
    SS: Kirkland Parker / Kameron Powell / Calvin Green

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

    Defensive 1’s
    DE: Darryl Paulo
    NT: Robert Barber
    DT: Destiny Vaeao
    Rush LB –Ivan McLennan
    WIL LB – Jeremiah Allison
    MIKE LB – Peyton Pelluer
    NICKEL: Logan Tago
    CB: Darrien Molton
    CB: Charleston White / Marcellus Pippins
    FS: Taylor Taliulu
    SS: Shalom Luani

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