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PRACTICE: WSU's James Williams displays versatility and elusiveness with the ball in his hands

PULLMAN – As Washington State wrapped up their final padded practice in preparation for Arizona State this Saturday (7pm, ESPN), the Coug secondary was given some tough love from their defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. The DB's were treated to spending time in the sand at Leach Beach for some good ol’ fashion punishment.

Here are my three takeaways from Wednesday’s practice:

1.     Williams shows versatility with mad receiving skills

-       When James Williams (pictured above) catches what is considered a “check down” throw, it's more like a guaranteed five to ten yard pickup. As Williams has shown since arriving in Pullman, he brings a lot of energy to the practice field as he did again on Wednesday. He ripped off a handful of explosive plays after catching some throws out of the backfield, and even hauled in a one-handed catch on a deep throw from Luke Falk. It’s also apparent that both quarterbacks are well aware of what Williams can do after the catch. Sometimes it seems like he’s almost a first read target when he swings out towards the sidelines.

2.     Defensive front seven wasn't fooled by ASU schemes

-       Since, Arizona State’s offense can be complex with various formations and motions, the scout team ran through just about every play and formation you can think of on Wednesday. Once again, defensive coordinator Alex Grinch's coaching proved how much focus and preparation goes into their game plan and schemes each week. The scout team ran through tons of plays that were designed to cause the defense confusion, but the front seven was ready for anything they faced. Nnadi Oguayo, Daniel Ekuale, Hercules Mata’afa, Nick Begg, and Derek Moore each recorded sacks during the team period. Whether it be run, pass, or play action – each guy was locked into his assignment and was ready and able to make a play if he needed to.

3.     DB’s get sent to sand pit mid-practice

-       After reloading the same play three times in a row with a scout team completing the same pass over and over, Grinch had seen enough. He immediately stopped the defense's team period and sent all the DB’s to do up-downs on Leach Beach. Without hesitating, Grinch continued the period with inside run drill for the front seven. When practice concluded, Grinch had more than an earful for the Coug secondary.

Here are more highlights and observations from Wednesday’s practice:

-       During the offense's team period, Gabe Marks was wide open down the field after a blown coverage forgot to account for him, but Falk didn’t see the senior receiver. Marks showed his frustration as he jogged back to the line. Two plays later, Falk caught Marks open once again and hit him in perfect stride on a 40+ yard completion.

-       Jamal Morrow made an incredible acrobatic catch as he out-jumped a defender and tipped the ball in the air. As he came down he stretched out for the ball and completed the catch.

-       Against the scout team, Derek Moore shot into the backfield to force a fumble that he then recovered.

-       The offensive line was burying scout defenders in the screen game. Specifically, Cody O'Connell and Eduardo Middleton were passing out pancakes like they worked at IHOP.

-       Skyler Thomas intercepted a late throw from backup quarterback Tyler Hilinski that was intended for River Cracraft. Thomas broke very quickly anticipating the pass and ripped the ball from Cracraft’s hands.

RELATED: CFC Podcast: Great stuff from Skyler Cracraft


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