WSU nickel back Isaac Dotson returns to practice Tuesday in hopes of playing in Saturday's game against California

PULLMAN – Tuesday's Washington State practice featured the return of nickel back Isaac Dotson, who hasn't been seen since Sept. 15. Though Dotson was limited during the two-hour workout, defensive coordinator said it nice to see the sophomore defensive back get a few reps. Dotson is listed as the starting nickel for Saturday's game at Cal, so we'll see if he can go from non-contact penny to making an impact against the Bears.

Cougar practice Tuesday was a pretty run of the mill. You could see the team starting to install their Cal game plan. The defense appeared to get the better of the offense in almost each drill, even when 1s and 2s competed against each other. The offense had a few moments, but they weren’t making many big plays against the D.

During the early stages of practice, defense ran through its usual position-specific drills. Dotson mostly participated in these drills where he didn’t need to make contact.

In the offense's 7-on-7 and 11-on-11s, the scout defense used different colored jerseys to simulate some of Cal’s defensive players. After the routine work, the Cougars gathered for field goal kicking. Erik Powell missed one kick, but it was a near-make from a long ways out.

The defense broke out a new drill where the scout offense ran a play, and the QB would scramble around with the receivers adjusting to get open. The defense did well to stay with the receivers even after they ran back and forth two to three times. During the drill, Chandler Leniu and Treshon Broughton each had an interception, with a pass defensed by Jeremiah Allison.

The defense moved into full drills, taking on the scout team in goal line and open field situations. It collected three interceptions, including two by Marcellus Pippins and one by Darrien Molton. From what I saw, Pippins was playing with the 1s and Charleston White was primarily with the 2s. Also, Daniel Ekuale received the most second-team defense reps, with Ngalu Tapa also playing some second-team snaps.

Next, the offense and defense had some receiver vs. defensive back competition, as well as 9-on-9. The receivers and defensive backs seemed pretty even throughout their 1-on-1 time, but the defense pulled out the win as the offense followed the drill with up/downs. As for the 9-on-9 work, the offense and defense was close to even. There were a number of plays where the O-line opened big holes, but there were more plays that the D-line and linebackers made stops at or behind the line of scrimmage.

Practice wrapped up with a handful of snaps pitting the second team offense against the first team defense. With Peyton Bender at quarterback, the team did well. Bender made a completion on each of his throws, including touchdown passes to Dom Williams and Tavares Martin. Keith Harrington also ripped off a run of 10-plus yards to get a first down.

After those few plays, the offense and defense split to take on their counterpart’s scout team.

Harrington continued to shine as he ripped off a few big runs and scored on pass from Luke Falk. For the defense, they dropped three interceptions but caused a fumble, recovered by Patrick Porter, and Kirkland Parker hauled in an interception near the end of practice.

Quick quotes

  • Mike Leach on Cal QB Jared Goff: “He’s steadily improved throughout his career. He played early which helped. He took some bumps, but that all helps.”

  • Leach on Harrington: “When we recruited him, we needed inside receivers, so we started him there. We knew he could do a little of everything, and we thought he could play well at running back.”

  • Grinch on Goff: “He’s as talented as a quarterback that you’ll find in the country. He possesses a lot of skills. It doesn’t take a lot of film to see his ability to make every throw, his ability to avoid pressure. He has a tendency to make you wrong a lot defensively, regardless of how you felt initially about your defensive calls.”

  • Grinch on Cal offense: “A lot of their pass game is off of their run game. There are decisions being made—what appears to be by the quarterback—and then you’ve got what college football is now, which is run plays with pass routes. The old days of ‘Is it run or pass?” by looking at line keys is no more. Run, pass causes some real conflict. When they hand it off, they’ve got ball carriers that can really get yards, but when they don’t they also have a great quarterback who can get it done too.”

Notable note

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

Offensive 1s

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 1s

DE: Darryl Paulo 

NT: Robert Barber 

DT: Destiny Vaeao 

Rush LB: Ivan McLennan / Kache Palacio 

WIL LB: Jeremiah Allison 

MIKE LB:  Peyton Pelluer 

NICKEL CB: Parker Henry / Logan Tago 

CB: Darrien Molton 

CB: Marcellus Pippins / Charleston White (more 1s snaps for Pippins) 

SS: Taylor Taliulu 

FS: Shalom Luani 

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