For this week’s edition of Thursday Night Football, my No. 1 focus was centered on the boys battling in the trenches – the offensive and defensive lines. These guys normally don’t get a lot of attention due to the abundance of skill players flying around, especially players deep on the depth chart or guys that simply don’t get reps in team practice. I decided to lock in and find which of these young players could really perform well up front.
In addition, I chose an MVP for the day as well as a player of the day from each position group.
Here’s how it went over the course of a spirited practice session:
MVP: Noah Osur-Myers
- Osur-Myers (pictured above) was by far the most dominant O-lineman tonight. The offensive line as a whole gave up a ton of sacks, but none coming off blocks from Osur-Myers. The second-year freshman backup lineman started at left guard for the first half, then moved to center later on. In pass protection, Osur-Myers was extremely solid up front – rarely taking steps back while the rest of his squad seemed to be on skates all session. Twice I watched him lay on top of D-lineman after pancaking them into the turf. While playing left guard, Osur-Myers was responsible for opening a huge hole up the middle that allowed Alijah Lee to break open for a 15-yard touchdown.
Position players of the day:
QB: Trey Tinsley
- All three quarterbacks (second-year freshman backup QB Tyler Hilinski, sophomore Trey Tinsley, and freshman Anthony Gordon) played exceptionally well, but Tinsley looked the most efficient from my chair. He put together two scoring drives while Gordon managed one score and Hilinski failed to lead a drive into the end zone. After a slow start from Hilinski and the first unit, Tinsley picked up the offense right away by hitting sophomore Brandon Arconado for a 20-yard completion on his first play from scrimmage. Shortly after, he dished a shuffle pass to Lee up the middle that went for a 15-yard score (same play as Myers block). On his next drive, Tinsley utilized short passes to steadily move the ball down field, before finding Arconado again for a 37-yard touchdown pass.
RB: Alijah Lee
- Coug fans got a little taste of second-year sophomore Lee during the Idaho game when he found the end zone late in the game after breaking two tackles in the backfield. I think those game reps gave him a big confidence boost. He’s always been a good athlete and a guy that runs hard, but now he is carrying a little more swagger and looks like he wants to score every time he gets the rock. He put up two touchdowns during this TNF and had several other positive runs. His vision has really opened up and shows that he can find ways to score no matter what the circumstance.
WR: Grant Porter
- Without knowing the stats, freshman Porter easily led everyone in the receiving category. What stood out to me was his ability to take a short pass and turn it into a big gain. He looks to be a bit undersized at this point in his college career but he shows great athleticism after the catch and brings each ball in with soft hands. On one play in particular, Porter caught a short slant pass and turned it up field for a 25-yard gain before being brought down by the safety. When Gordon got his chance to run the offense, his first play from scrimmage was a toss to Porter who reeled in the 15-yard pass to instantly move the chains. He looks to be a reliable target for the Cougs in the future. I think with more experience and some more size, Porter can definitely break into the rotation next year.
OL – Noah Osur-Myers (MVP)
DL: Nick Begg
- Begg recorded back-to-back sacks on the opening drive of TNF. On both sacks, he beat different tackles outside on the edge with ease. His first sack came against freshman Liam Ryan. That play got Ryan yanked out of rotation to start doing some up-downs. The very next play, Begg beat freshman Josh Watson for his second straight sack. Like Ryan, Watson was pulled and also ordered to have some up-down fun. Begg stayed in the game while the two tackles were enjoying some Mike Leach punishment side-by-side.
LB: Jahad Woods
- Woods was all over the field on Thursday, but he made two plays specifically that instantly shifted momentum. He made an impressive hit on second-year freshman WR Kainoa Wilson over the middle that really got the defense fired up. Two drives later, Woods picked off a pass over the middle on a throw from Gordon and started heading for the sideline before the whistle was blown. This freshman has shown consistency from the moment he arrived in Pullman. Woods definitely has that playmaker ability similar to what I'm used to seeing from senior safety Shalom Luani.
DB: Deion Singleton
- There wasn’t a lot of action for the defense backs this week, (likely due to a lot of short throws, runs, and screens) but as a DB – if you don’t have any throws caught on the guy you're covering throughout an entire practice, you’re probably doing something right. Singleton held his ground at corner while not giving up any big plays and recording a pass break-up in the process.