PRACTICE REPORT: DL brings pressure

PULLMAN -- The Cougar defense has surrendered scores on every opening drive by an opponent this season. So it must have been satisfying for Paul Wulff and staff that defense -- defense! -- was the high point in practice Wednesday. Meanwhile, true freshman quarterback Jeff Tuel continued to show improvement, but also showed he's human as well.

Elsewhere on offense, true freshman Alex Reitnouer continues to study up as he helps bolster a line depleted by injury.

"Obviously he's cramming and trying to play guard and understand it, and play back up tackle -- but for a guy who's never played a college snap he's doing a good job," said Paul Wulff.

Early in practice Wednesday, the O-line looked sharp opening holes for RBs Dwight Tardy, Logwone Mitz, and Carl Winston. Winston broke out for a large gain on one occasion before coach Wulff called the play dead.

Winston's redshirt is still intact, and the Cougs do have Tardy, Mitz, and Marcus Richmond if Wulff wants to keep Winston's redshirt on. Winston has, however, looked good the past couple weeks in practice following the injury to James Montgomery.

ALTHOUGH THE O-LINE prospered early, the the defensive line dominated the 11-on-11 drills at the end of practice with continued pressure on Tuel and Marshall Lobbestael.

DE Casey Hamlett started the surge when he bullied his way through and two-hand touched Lobbestael for the sack. The pressure continued with Travis Long consistently putting pressure on both Tuel and Lobbestael.

DE Jesse Feagin also had his moments, as did Dan Spitz and Bernard Wolfgramm. Wulff was cautiously encouraged by the play of his d-line.

"I think we're getting ready. For us to play well we have to bring a high level of energy and we need to play with great emotion and tackle well," said Wulff.

AS FOR TUEL, he took all but a few snaps with the first team and started off hot by threading the needle into tight spots. Tuel also showed off his arm strength for the second consecutive day on a touchdown bomb.

"He's done a good job with the type of practices we've been having," said Wulff.

Tuel did show he's human toward the end of practice on two occasions. On one, he tried to go deep but overthrew his target and was nearly intercepted by safety Chima Nwachukwu. Tuel later threw the ball over the middle into traffic. MLB Alex Hoffman-Ellis had a sure-fire interception hit him in the hands and fall to the ground.

"We are looking to build off of some good things against USC," said Nwachukwu.

  • Kicker Nico Grasu, who has had his ups and down so far this season, went 4-of-7 from medium-long range to close practice. After nailing his first kick from 37 yards, Grasu missed his next three from 42 yards out. The junior then nailed his final three attempts from 42 yards out to wrap up Wednesday's session.

  • True freshman Gino Simone joined S Eric Block and TE Tony Thompson missing practice on Wednesday with illness. It doesn't appear to be serious or long term, Block was at practice on Wednesday wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants.

  • True freshman CB Anthony Carpenter has been impressive while working with the scout team defense. On Wednesday during one-on-one drills, Carpenter was lined up against Jared Karstetter on several occasions and looked solid. Carpenter also had some pass deflections going against the 1s. With fellow true freshman Nolan Washington also making strides on the scout team this season, the Cougs might be well manned in the secondary for years to come.

  • CB Daniel Simmons had some nice special teams plays on Wednesday.

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