WSU practice: Cougs a little chippy, Falk hot

PULLMAN – Washington State quarterback Luke Falk looked sharp at almost every turn on Wednesday. Backup QB Peyton Bender also had some nice connections, and things got chippy between one receiver and defensive back.

Alas, from where I was situated, the two players started jawing at each other but I couldn’t identify the players’ numbers before they were lost in a sea of Cougs. The scuffle broke out quickly and the two were separated before the drill could continue.

In the first portion of skelly, there was one throw I couldn’t see, but otherwise Falk was a perfect eight-for-eight. His line of scrimmage was the 32-yard line, and he was finding open areas all over in which to operate.

Falk threw for 69 yards by my count in the first skeleton drill. Bender had a handful of throws. When Falk came back in, the line of scrimmage was his own 11-yard line and Falk moved the Cougs at will.

He attempted seven passes and four of them gained 24 yards or more by my count.

Falk threw dimes to the usual suspects with the big gainer a pass to Gabe Marks for 69 hashes. But the most impressive Falk throw in my view was to Kyrin Priester.

Scout teamer Willie Roach was playing textbook defense but Falk and Priester were on the same sentence of the same page.  Before Priester made his move, Falk released the ball and there was nothing Roach could do on a perfect pitch and catch. In his second skeleton drill, Falk was six-of-eight for 144 yards.

Bender didn’t get a lot of reps in skelly, but he was mostly effective during his time against the mix of defensive 1s and 2s.

Bender completed at least four throws including a three-yard TD. Bender started from 16-yard line in his skelly and then was moved one yard closer for the next three reps. Tthe line of scrimmage then jumped down to the three-yard line. I couldn’t see two of Bender’s goal line throws.

When the groups battled in 11-on-11, Bender hit Kyle Sweet for two completions and connected with Tavares Martin.  A pass to Keith Harrington lost yardage.
Every Wednesday, the two deeps for the offense and defense only meet up for the skeleton drill and usually a brief team session – so not as much contact or full unit competition as there is on Tuesdays.

Regardless, this was the most edgy the two sides have been with one another in a few weeks in my view.

A couple observations on two of the young receivers.

Priester has come along nicely this year. both in practice and games. He and Falk have good chemistry in their first year together and it's easy for me to see that continuing in the years to come. The same holds true for Falk and Sweet. On one Bender pass to Sweet in 11-on-11, it probably wasn’t one Bender would have thrown in a game – Sweet was triple covered. Still, Sweet came away with the grab.

-Kicker Brett Schafer (whom special teams coach Eric Mele gives the FG attempt reps to each Wednesday rather than starter Erik Powell) went three-for-six on his boots.

-The special teams worked on punt drills with the starting unit going against the scouts in individual drills -- a combination of punter protection and ripping past blocks to get to the opposing punt returner. When the return team took on the scouts, the individual drills focused on gunner blocking.

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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