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Practice: Cougar D throws its weight around

PULLMAN – The Cougar defense shined plenty on Tuesday, but the offense had their moments as well. Despite one-on-one drill where things went downhill for the receivers against the secondary, Luke Falk bounced back in the skeleton drill to go 18-of-19 passing. The one problem with that lone misfire, however...

It was an Isaac Dotson interception.
 
First, the one-on-one drill between the wide receivers and the defensive backs. From where I was standing, there were a few parts of the field I couldn’t see, but I saw enough to know things didn’t go well for the offense.

At the end of the drill, the offensive side (quarterbacks and receivers) were invited to do 20 up downs. There were still some noteworthy plays from the offense, including a beautiful move from Dom Williams to shade the defender off his body in order to make a reception.

But moments like that from the offense were overshadowed by errant throws or defenders swatting would-be completions away.

Marcellus Pippins, Charleston White, Darrien Molton, Isaac Dotson, Shalom Luani and Willie Roach were among the defensive backs I saw making sweet plays or employing stick-to-you-like-glue coverage.
 
When the two deeps of the offense and defense met up later in practice, the offense was ready to exact some revenge in the skeleton drill.

As mentioned at the top, Falk was 18-of-19 during the drill. His only incompletion came on his second throw, an interception by  Dotson.

Falk finished with 197 yards thanks in part to crisp routes from his playmakers and quick decision-making on his own reads.

Falk had success in all areas of the field, surprise considering what he's been doing all season long on Saturdays.

Peyton Bender came in and finished five-of-nine for 53 yards. He also had an interception, this one courtesy of Pippins.

There was at least one other throw that may have been intercepted, but from my vantage point I was shielded and couldn’t tell if the defense was whooping over a pass break up or a pick.
 
When the two groups met up for five plays with Bender and the O against the two deeps of the defense, Alex Grinch’s boys got the last laugh.

The second-year freshman QB started with a 14-yard pass to Kyle Sweet, but the next two plays could not have gone worse for the offense. Bender hit Keith Harrington who was swallowed up immediately for a loss of seven yards. The defense tried to claim they stripped the ball, but it was tough to tell.

Then, Kache Palacio and Hercules Mata’afa combined to "sack" Bender.

The last two plays gained minus-seven and minus-nine yards, respectively.
 
It’s hard to single out one player from the defense that performed the best against the offense, but Dotson seemed to be everywhere the entire Tuesday practice.

Whether it was the one-on-one drill or the skeleton drill, Dotson was causing pass breakups and making life difficult for the offense.

Despite the offense’s consistent trouble, Dom Williams continuously stood out.

He was making great reads on where to take his routes, he used his body smartly to make several nice receptions -- in other words  just doing excellent Dom Williams types of things.
 
NOTABLE NOTES
-Kicker Erik Powell went five-for-five on his field goal tries Tuesday. And keep in mind the wind was howling all of practice -- Powell did a great job adjusting his kick trajectory and placement to nail all of his boots.
 
-The special teams also practiced kickoff drills. The Cougs picked right up where they left off on Saturday at UCLA, looking  solid on their kick coverage and especially in swarming the returner and getting past would-be blocks to get to the return man. When the Cougs shifted focus to the return team, the blocks looked textbook and some nice returns came about.
 
NOTE: As noted previously, 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 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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