Grinch in search of next level, he tells CF.C

WE WERE ORIGINALLY set to talk with Washington State defensive coordinator Alex Grinch in the morning but he asked to push it back until the afternoon. Signing Day 2017 may be almost a year away but Grinch had some tape on recruits he wanted to watch right then and there.

Film study never ends for a football coach, certainly not for the defensive coordinator who also coaches the DBs at Washington State. Not even in February.

“Most days we do cut ups in the morning and recruiting in the afternoon is how we split up our days,” said Grinch.

Washington State wrapped up its winter conditioing sessions this past Thursday, Grinch’s second Midnight Maneuvers at WSU.  But whether the Cougar D is ahead of where they were at last year at this point? That’s irrelevant to Grinch.

“It’s tough to compare… and whether it was better or worse, there’s still a level we need to get to from a football standpoint,” said Grinch. “There’s a certain standard we need to get to, ultimately, next fall.  As you evaluate the last two weeks, what you don’t want to do is over-evaluate what took place.

“It’s one piece of the puzzle... We got out of it what we needed to get out of it, and now it's on to the next phase.”

Before doing that, we asked Grinch about some of the standouts on D during the sessions. Grinch said corner Darrien Molton offered evidence he may be ready to take the next step. Safety Shalom Luani and corner Marcellus Pippins also merited mention.

“It’s a very competitive group and as I told them, the competition that took place in Midnight Maneuvers is only going to carry over into spring ball as we try to piece together a depth chart,” said Grinch.

At linebackerPeyton Pelluer stood out in terms of effort, with Grinch also saying the ‘backer corps were a highly competitive group. On the d-line, Robert Barber and Daniel Ekuale established themselves as leaders, Grinch said, with RUSH Logan Tago “a young guy who is making strides, as we need him to.” 

Grinch also said Hercules Mata'afa is “another one of those guys who gives you everything he’s got on every snap and every rep.”

Midnight Maneuvers workouts are both physically and mentally challenging, and they come at the end of a long day. Cougar players have a full day of class and studying. Their lifting schedule stays the same. And then and at around 10 p.m., the workouts from hell arrive.

“The biggest thing you’re trying to get out of them is mental toughness… you want to see them perform at a high level in a very adverse situation. They get fatigued, by design, and so how are they going to respond.  So when you walk away from it you certainly feel you’re a more mentally tough football team,” said Grinch.

Almost every drill involves a change of direction component, said Grinch.

“You’re trying to simulate as best you can a lot of the athletic movements of football and in some respects (Maneuvers) is better suited to defense,” said Grinch. “So much of what we do is reactionary, which implies change of direction is going to have to take place whether linebackers, your secondary or d-line.

“It’s all designed to be very competitive in every drill. There’s a winner and a loser… as we try to developing self-starters, guys that are going to compete their tails off. So it’s by design each drill will have a winner and a loser.”

As Grinch noted earlier, it’s one piece of the puzzle to building a consistent defense out on the Palouse.

“We want to be finishers in everything that we do, whether it’s the fourth quarter or a given play,” said Grinch.

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