WSU practice: Air Raid humming right along

PULLMAN – The Cougar offense took charge in Martin Stadium during Tuesday’s practice. Washington State’s defense got in a few shots of their own, most notably in the form of some solid pass breakups, but the Air Raid that was firing on all cylinders.

The offense and defense first faced off in one-on-one drills pitting the defensive backs against the wide receivers. The open field portion of the drill was handily won by the wide receivers.

In the open field a point is given to the wideouts for making a catch and a point for the DBs for pass breakups or receiver drops. The wide receivers had 24 points by my count, the secondary tallied six incompletions, which included two drops (both should have been clean catches in my view).

In the goal line portion of the one-on-one drill, the battle was closer, but the wide receivers still won.

The receivers caught 17 passes with one drop, with four other passes broken up by the DBs.

Charleston White and Kirkland Parker stood out on the defensive units from my chair. White had two pass breakups and Parker had a well thrown ball to contend with, but the third-year sophomore had perfect coverage.

Needless to say for anyone familiar with CF.C’s practice reports, the defensive backs did up downs after losing the one-on-one drill.

While the receivers battled the secondary, the o-line took their shot at the d-line and performed pretty well -- the two squads tied (last Tuesday the d-line won easily)..

For my scoring, the o-line got a point with a 5-yard gainer and the d-line got a point if the ballcarrier was stuffed – anything in the middle was a tie. Both sides tallied four points each, but the holes the o-line opened were impressive --  comparable in my view to the lanes opened in the games against Oregon State and Stanford.

The skeleton drill was the second-to-last time during Tuesday’s practice where the two deeps went head-to-head.

The offense won this drill definitively in my view because the defense didn't cause any turnovers.

Between Luke Falk and Peyton Bender, the defense tallied eight incompletions out of 27 combined throws. Falk finished 12-of-18 for 105 yards while Bender finished seven-of-nine for 60 yards.

Isaac Dotson stood out for the defense with the best pass breakup of the drill. Falk had Tyler Baker wide open, but Dotson read the QB’s eyes and broke for the ball, diving to cause the incompletion.

The best catch came from Daniel Lilienthal who was in triple coverage, but Bender let fly. The second-year freshman fired the ball, and Lilienthal came running back for the ball and made a terrific grab with three sets of arms trying in vain to knock the ball out.

Finally, the five plays of team time were the closest the defense got to winning against the offense on Tuesday. Bender went two-of-four for 22 yards.

He was nearly sacked by d-lineman Hercules Mata’afa who got a great jump off the ball (something he does so very often in games and practices).

The second incompletion came after a d-lineman jumped offside and Bender went for it all on the free play, but he missed his target and the ball fell to the turf.

Check out the video above for Tuesday’s Notable Notes.

NOTE:  As we noted last week, 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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