PRACTICE: Washington State defense earns shutout in Thursday Night Football scrimmage

PULLMAN – As Washington State wrapped up this week’s final practice session in preparation for Stanford this Saturday (7:30, ESPN), young players were able to show some impressive talent during Thursday Night Football. Names such as Arconado, Lee and Woods are beginning to separate themselves as guys who will be making noise this coming spring and next season.

The scrimmage was drastically one sided as the defense pitched a shutout while absolutely dominating the offense on multiple drives. Despite the offense going scoreless on the day, there were several players who shined.

By position group, here’s who had the best performances on Thursday:

WR (MVP): Brandon Arconado

-       Brandon Arconado seemed to have been the only Coug who really wanted to score tonight. If it weren’t for a false start by one offensive lineman he would have done just that. Arconado pulled in a 22-yard pass, made a man miss and was hit near the 1-yard line before stretching the ball across the goal line (the penalty brought the play back which ultimately saved the defense from giving up a score all day). A few drives later, Arconado put a huge hit on fourth-year junior corner Dakota Sinchak after a short completion to third-year sophomore running back Keith Harrington. The block put Sinchak on the ground and freed up space for Harrington to run. Soon after, he hauled in a 20-yard pass from JC transfer QB Anthony Gordon. Arconado had several catches on the day, finding open space seemingly on every play.

QB: Tyler Hilinski

-       The WSU backup quarterback was given just one drive in TNF this week – compared with two each for sophomore Trey Tinsley and Gordon. Hilinski moved the ball quickly down field and was the only QB to put together a “scoring” drive (Arconado’s TD pass was called back after the penalty). He was smart with the football, hitting short routes and check-downs that eventually went for big gains. He also found Harrington down field as he fit a tight ball between coverge for a 15-yard pickup. On Hilinski’s final play, (fourth and seven) he tried to hit freshman receiver Dezmon Patmon with a goal line fade but the ball sailed a little high.

OL: Frederick Mauigoa

-       The offensive line had a tough TNF scrimmage this week, but the freshman center looked to be the most consistent out of the group. Mauigoa's run blocking stood out most to me. He also held up in pass protection pretty well. As the offense struggled to move the ball on several occasions, Mauigoa continued to give his best effort by keeping his feet live on contact and delivering a blow at any opportunity he could. On one run play, he got off his initial down block and sealed freshman linebacker Jahad Woods at the second level keeping him from making the tackle. Mauigoa has a solid base for a young lineman and has good footwork to go along with it.

RB: Alijah Lee

-       All week long Alijah Lee has been rocking a No. 5 jersey while imitating Christian McCaffery for the starting defense. Although Lee didn’t rip off any Heisman-like runs, he constantly had defenders diving at his ankles and took off for multiple first down pickups. He also caught several passes out of the backfield that he then turned in for big gains. On a fourth-and-one attempt, Lee caught a screen pass and picked up the first down after gaining 7-yards on the play.

DL: Hunter Mattox

-       Hunter Mattox had a big performance, recording two sacks and putting pressure on the offensive line throughout the scrimmage. His first sack came after he split a double team from Mauigoa and second-year freshman guard Noah Osur-Myers. Mattox went untouched on his second sack as he broke free into the backfield to wrap up Tinsley behind the line. After practice, he and third-year sophomore defensive lineman Nick Begg were awarded defensive players-of-the-day.

LB: Jahad Woods

-       Woods continues to impress me in each of these Thursday Night Football sessions. The freshman linebacker brings a punch every single time and just has a solid nose for the football. This week Woods made a handful of tackles and forced a fumble after a run play that he stuffed at the line of scrimmage. He’s an impressive athlete and continues to make big plays on the field.

DB: Hunter Dale

-       Dale (pictured above) definitely made the play-of-the-day. When the offense finally had a chance to put the ball in for a score, Dale intercepted a Tinsley pass and took it 102-yards the other way for a touchdown. Need I say more?

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