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Cougs are their own toughest critics

PULLMAN — Three practices into spring ball, the WSU offense and defense have high praise for each other, but aren’t yet touting their own accomplishments.

“They did a better job than we did on competing,” senior quarterback Luke Falk (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) said of the defensive effort at Tuesday afternoon’s practice. “We just gotta get better.”

“Those guys fly around, we’ve got a bunch of good athletes over there,” Falk continued. “They’re in pretty good sync. They came into spring ball playing at a pretty high level … One thing I like is seeing them always go for the ball and try to strip the ball and things like that. Turnovers equal more opportunities for us. It’s probably annoying right now for our guys but it’s gonna help with our ball security.”

Senior safety Robert Taylor (5-10, 183) said he’s been impressed with the entire receiving corps, but especially a pair of inside wideouts -- junior Kyle Sweet (6-0, 192) and senior Robert Lewis (5-9, 170).

“All of our receivers are really great,” said Taylor. “I get a lot of reps against Kyle Sweet. So I’d say he's one of the toughest guys that I like to go against. Rob Lewis is good as well, but I don’t get as much reps against him.”

As for the secondary where he is one of the leaders, Taylor singled out junior transfer DB Sean Harper (6-2, 184) and freshman DB Zaire Webb (5-10, 169) as two who have impressed him.

Sophomore running back James Williams (5-11, 192, pictured above) has been critical of his own performance so far, but remains confident in his fellow running backs -- and especially the defense.

“I’ll have like two or three good plays, and then mess up on the play after that, so I’ve gotta make everything more consistent throughout practice,” said Williams.

When the topic turned to the defense, Williams was blunt.

“The defense got faster,” he said, before adding that their improvement will only help the offensive players.

“If we can execute our plays against our defense, then no other defense in the conference is gonna stop us,” Williams said confidently.

He had high praise for his fellow running backs with whom he’s in competition for snaps with the first team — seniors Gerard Wicks (6-0, 228), Jamal Morrow (5-9, 200), and junior Keith Harrington (5-8, 194).

Despite the fierce competition, however, Williams says they remain a close-knit group.

“We’re all just going out there, doing our thing. We don’t ever butt heads. We’ve got a cool group, we love each other, we’re brothers. We just feed off each other,” said Williams.

Also on the offensive side of the ball, Falk did say that he’s been impressed with junior receiver Kyrin Priester (6-1, 195), who was absent from last year’s squad.

“He’s really had a good first three days of practice, especially the first two. He’s really playing hard, getting open, doing exactly what the coaches are asking him, and really just making plays,” said Falk.

When asked if Preister’s return has been difficult to get used to, Falk said he didn’t think so.

“He was around campus so everybody saw him, so really it’s kind of the same,” said the quarterback. “It’s just whatever. Good old Kyrin’s back right now and he’s doing his best to get back in the routine.”

Head man Mike Leach, however, is less impressed with some of the players’ performances.

“It’s a ‘what have you done for me lately?’ deal,” Leach said of how starting jobs will be awarded in the fall, “and we’re definitely gonna gravitate towards guys that have done something lately.”

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