WSU PRACTICE: Opportunistic Coug D

PULLMAN -- Washington State's Tuesday practice saw a confident defensive unit throw their weight around. The No. 1 d-line got the better against their o-line counterparts in drills and the Cougar secondary was on the prowl. no matter what level of the depth chart.

Cold? What cold? Tuesday's afternoon session was in the 30s but the Cougars didn’t appear affected by the weather at all to my eye.

Whether it was 1v1, 2v2 or scouts vs. scouts, the d-line came out on top in line drills. In the first drill pitting the lines against one another, the d-line made repeated appearances in the backfield.

In the tally I kept, the d-line finished a combined plus-7. Virtually all seven d-line “wins” were at or behind the line of scrimmage. The o-line only got two points overall in my book, with just two ties, between the various line units (1v1, 2v2, scouts vs. scouts).

O-line coach Clay McGuire let his charges known about it, and the o-lines did several up downs.

However, other than the line drills, my take was the offense had a pretty good showing (though there continued to be a few other up-down sessions featuring offensive units).

During the one-on-one drill between receivers and defensive backs, the receivers by my count caught 45 passes out of the 54 passes thrown. There were only two real drops.

The defensive backs were able to break up four passes in the open field and three in goal line situation drills.

True freshman wideout Tavares Martin and David Bucannon in drills had a good battle, including a great route and fight for the ball that Martin won.  Buc later got a measure of revenge in the goal line drill forcing an incompletion.

Also in goal line drills, wideout Daniel Lilienthal peeled two great routes. One TD catch saw him adjust nicely to an underthrown ball and later, he turned around the DB for another grab in the end zone.

John Thompson, who has become a consistent receiver and bubble screen blocker on Saturdays, got beat this past Saturday when a Stanford defensive back fought through Thompson's block and picked off the pass that led to the Card's winning field goal. Thompson was back on the horse Tuesday and blocked well, including when he pancaked a defender that helped the primary WSU receiver post a touchdown.

Cougar defensive coordinator Alex Grinch was visibly animated after the defensive backs got beat Tuesday and could be heard saying, “Just get better, men.” The secondary had some picks over the course of the practice, including a nice grab by Shalom Luani, but they struggled a bit and had only intermittent success in the skeleton drill.

Luke Falk and Peyton Bender each posted a good completion rate in drills. There were two sections in the drill, the first with no down and distance followed by third-downs. Falk finished the first drill 10 for 15 with 104 yards and a touchdown. Bender completed five of eight throws for 51 yards, and two of the three incompletions were drops. The other was a dropped interception by Treshon Broughton.

During the third-down time, Falk converted nicely, and Bender converted as well. Despite the success, the coaches weren't satisfied and the offense did up downs.

In the final drill featuring a mix from the two-deeps, the defensive backs had a good showing against Bender and the offense, with an interception and a great pass breakup on the second. However, Bender bounced back and completed his last three passes to Keith Harrington, Kyle Sweet and Gabe Marks.

-Kicker Erik Powell may have been one of the few Cougs affected by the cold, he was a little inconsistent and  missed a few field goals over the course of the chilly practice.

-Other special teams work included kickoff versus the scout return team, and scout kick team against the returners. The Cougs continued with split initial drills for special teams, followed by a full group session in an effort to correct any individual miscues.

NOTE: Falling under the heading of change: If you’re wondering why our customary listing of the first string offense and defense has gone missing, WSU has made it clear all interview access to coaches and players will be denied if we continue to publish who is running with the 1s. Previously, WSU informed CF.C and other media two weeks ago that interview access to defensive coaches would be cut off unless we refrained in our practice reports from noting which players were limited in their participation. As much as we know readers enjoy the practice listings of the 1s, we don't believe the broader context of our practice reporting will be compromised if we refrain from it and that the alternative -- not being able to talk with Mike Leach, Alex Grinch and others -- would be a far greater sacrifice to you, our loyal readers.

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