DAY 6 AM: D won war, but lost a few battles

PULLMAN--On the first two-a-day of fall camp, the offense started the morning session rusty, while the defense provided the heat. But the offense got things going in the "Oklahoma State" drill. Meanwhile, DE Kevin Kooyman delivered mammoth hits while RB Chantz Staden provided some offensive glitz. And when the offense and defense got together for team drills, the fireworks began.

Still, it certainly wasn't the Cougs' best practice this fall camp, and it left Paul Wulff lukewarm.

"This practice was not a great practice, by no means, but it wasn't a bad practice. Our intensity wasn't good enough, but it does happen unfortunately with two-a-days. A mature team and a veteran team learns how to handle these situations better," Wulff told Cougfan.com at the conclusion of the 1 hour and 45 minute session.

From the beginning, the offense looked to have some rust built up, as an uncharacteristic amount of balls were finding their way through the receivers hands and onto the ground.

David Gonzales and Micah Hannam were holding down the Tackle spots with the first team and did a nice job providing protection off the ends. Wade Jacobsen and B.J. Guerra continued to hold down the interior, while Zack Williams provided the snaps.

THE RUST WAS finally knocked off during the "Oklahoma State" drill. Basically a blocker and defender get after it while a running back attempts to get past the defender. Everyone perked up for the drill and knocked off the early morning jitters.

Kevin Kooyman provided the play of the drill by shaking Gonzales and delivering a blow on running back Leon Brooks.

ON THE DEFENSIVE side of the ball the players came ready to practice.

Brandon Rankin and Bernard Wolfgramm were working on the sideline as they rest up minor dings, allowing Anthony Laurenzi, Steven Hoffart, and Kalafitoni Pole to get additional reps.

While Jeff Tuel was able to elude defenders throughout the day, Pole found a way to get a mitt onto him during team drills.

THE SECONDARY AND LINEBACKER units continued to show off good speed throughout the day.

Daniel Simmons, Nolan Washington, and Aire Justin worked in with the 1's. Simmons is a lock to start at one corner while Washington and Justin look to be the leading candidates competing for the other starting spot.

Safeties Chima Nwachukwu and Tyree Toomer were running with the 1's again on Friday morning but LeAndre Daniels and Casey Locker are not letting up.

The defensive backs and linebackers held the offense to 3 coverage sacks on the morning.

THE LINEBACKER COMPETITION continued to heat up on Day 6, and it's a knockdown, drag-out affair thus far in camp according to co-defensive coordinator Chris Ball.

"Alex Hoffman-Ellis and Myron Beck are really battling for the MIK linebacker position. (Mike) Ledgerwood is doing a great job and Hallston Higgins is doing a good job in there," said Ball.

WHILE THE HOT TREND in college football defensively has been for teams to move toward a 4-2-5 formation with a hybrid player roaming the secondary, and one might think the Cougs, with their LB and DB speed, could move in that direction, Ball threw cold water on the idea.

"We are 4-3 team," said Ball. "We are committed to that and is what we are…. The trend is more toward a 3-4 with all the spread offenses, but we are a 4-3 team," Ball said.

IN THE TEAM session, the offense and defense came together and the biggest fireworks of the morning began. Tuel and the starting offense squared off against the 1 defense and in the first series, Tuel wasn't allowed to get too comfortable.

Still, he eluded Laurenzi and found Daniel Blackledge up the sideline for a first down. Then the defense went into lockdown, forcing a three-and-out.

Lobbestael stepped in for the next series, against the 2's on defense, and helped to breathe some life into the offensive unit. The Lobster connected with Isiah Barton up the sideline for a first down and on the next play found Kristoff Williams for another nice gain.

Then the number 2 defense regrouped, with the help of freshmen Toni Pole 's sack, and held their ground, forcing another three-and-out.

Tuel led the 1's out for round two against the 1's on defense by escaping a defender and finding Blackledge -- who had sidestepped a defender and earned a first down. On the next play Tuel swung a pass to Chantz Staden who cut up behind great downfield blocking for a 14 yard gain.

However, the defense stood firm once again, not allowing another first down.

In the next series Daniels closed the gap on a Lobbestael pass to Barton, who held onto the ball despite getting crushed. Following the Daniels hit, the defensive 2's put the vice on, sniffing out a screen and then on a third-and-short, tackling Brooks for a loss.

SENSING THE LACK of intensity on the offensive side of the ball, the coaches called everyone together for a brief, to-the-point meeting to get everyone on the same page. Upon exiting the gathering, they entered the goal line portion of practice.

And whatever was said obviously got through to the offensive unit who had been losing the battles all day long.

Leon Brooks followed Hannam and Guerra into the end zone on the first play.

Then Lobbestael led the 2's to another score courtesy of Brooks grinding to the goal line. Practice ended with Tuel handing the ball to Logwone Mitz, who tucked behind Jacobsen and Gonzales for an easy score.

It was a nice finish for the offense. And Ball wasn't pleased.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Andrew Roxas, Rankin, Wolfgramm, and Aaron Gehring were all working on the sidelines during practice -- nothing serious just some minor tweaks.

  • Former Cougar All-American safety Paul Sorensen, as well as Palouse Posse linebacker Anthony McClanahan, were spotted checking out fall camp. McClanahan was sporting a bleached blonde ‘do that would make the Selby brothers jealous. Jason Gesser will be in town on Saturday, to take in practice and also to meet with the team.


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