LATE PRACTICE: D rules; Rogers, Gibson sharp

PULLMAN -- From an execution standpoint, the WSU offense did not have a great outing in the second of two Sunday sessions. But Brandon Gibson, as he has from the start of camp, continued to shine. And Gary Rogers fared well even with the offensive miscues. Defensively, Cory Evans, Matt Eichelberger and Tyrone Justin were among those with standout plays.

The afternoon session on Sunday was held in shoulder pads and shorts, unlike the full pads of the morning practice. And make no mistake, the afternoon session belonged to the defense. The D came out from the jump with more of the proverbial fire in their belly than did their offensive counterparts.

ON DEFENSE, linebacker Cory Evans made a number of plays on the afternoon, both against the pass and run. One resulted in a pick where he simply outfought the receiver for the ball.

The defense played with a lot of energy as a unit on Sunday afternoon -- Mike Graise fought off a tough block to make a play and the defensive line showed well overall.

Matt Eichelberger had a solid day at the defensive tackle spot, a position the Cougs sorely need playmakers to emerge at after last year.

OFFENSIVELY FOR THE Cougs, missed routes, sloppy ball handling, a few errant throws -- all were a part of the late session on Sunday. And every position group on offense had at least one turn at the bat, so to speak, in the uneven play department.

It's not unusual to see some mental breakdowns early in fall camp, and certainly during the second of two practices on first day of two-a-days.

But Paul Wulff and the offensive coaches weren't having any of it.

The overall tempo of the practice, the level of enthusiasm and the focus -- the coaches continued to pound on all of it and the offense responded. There was still some inconsistencies later but the Cougar offense look likes one might expect them to look at this stage -- trying to incorporate their system, timing and find their rhythm.


GARY ROGERS

BUT ABOVE ALL, the one thing that stood out most was Gary Rogers. The Cougs' starting quarterback fared well on the day, even with the number of miscues by the offense.

It's evident his understanding of the new Cougar offense has continued to evolve from the earlier spring session. And he looks to certainly have the confidence of his teammates. He's also a physical specimen, one who looks stronger, faster and quicker -- and he wasn't exactly lacking in those areas last year to begin with..

Backup Kevin Lopina had an uneven day. On the plus side, he threw some tight passes during the stretch in the middle of the practice. But he also made the wrong split second decision on another pass, late in the play, and corner Tyrone Justin made a meal out of it, taking it back for a pick-six.

Brandon Gibson, meanwhile, turned in another session to write home about it -- routes, catches, blocks, Gibson did it all.

Devin Frischknecht did have a drop Sunday afternoon, a rare sight for him, but otherwise had a sharp outing and is solidifying himself in the WSU offense.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • All things considered, on a day when the defense won the battle and the running game didn't, Dwight Tardy ran the ball nicely. So too did Logwone Mitz, who is establishing himself as a tough running back who can gut out yards after contact.

  • Chantz Staden is a versatile playmaker in the making, with solid hands and an array of jitterbug-like moves. He could be fun to watch this year.

  • The offensive line had a few too many missed blocks for the liking of the coaching staff on Sunday. It's pretty clear, however, that the o-line likes new coach Harold Etheridge quite a bit. Besides his sense of humor, the linemen seem to have really taken to Etheridge's early coaching -- he's been stressing the basics, basics, basics.

  • At tight end, Tony Thompson looks to have also turned some heads this camp. The youngest son of WSU quarterbacking legend Jack Thompson, the junior tight end has clearly worked on physically reinventing himself since his arrival at WSU and it's paying dividends in the fall practice sessions. Overall, the tight ends group on Sunday looked promising with work remaining -- they look quite accomplished in the receiving game, but they also looked to have more to do in their blocking before they can become great.

  • Jared Karstetter looks all of 6-4, and he's put together pretty well. He's only a true frosh and there's quite a bit of development ahead of him but he looks to have a great work ethic -- staying late after practice to work on his craft has been the norm -- to go along with plenty of talent and athleticism.


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