COUGAR PRACTICE REPORT

JEFF TUEL

PULLMAN — If John Fullington needs a nickname, ‘the exception' might fit the bill. True freshmen don't usually play on the o-line at the Pac-10 level, let alone at left tackle. But that's exactly where he'll be Saturday when the Cougs face Stanford. Meanwhile, center Zack Williams, "embarrassed" by the trajectory of his shotgun snaps against Arizona, put in extra time on it Wednesday.

Paul Wulff confirmed John Fullington the starter at LT for Saturday after he performed ably at that spot for the third consecutive day this week in practice. The left tackle is customarily a team's best pass blocker who protects the quarterback's blind side (right-hander).

With the season ending injury to LT David Gonzales (broken arm) against Arizona, Wulff said it became apparent this week that Fullington is Washington State's best option to fill the void.

"He's done well for the practice's we've had," Wulff said. "I would envision there might be a mistake or two made (Saturday) that there probably wouldn't have been if he was at right tackle. So at this point he's done a good job."

WULFF AGAIN HELD the Cougs to a shoulder pads and helmets only practice session on Wednesday, the third consecutive day without full contact with WSU looking to get healthier and rested up. But the Cougars are expected to do some hitting on Thursday.

The O-line continued to rotate guys in and out with Wade Jacobsen being the backup at LT, and Andrew Roxas continued to see some work with the 1's at LG. O-line coach Steve Morton has been mixing and matching more than usual this week, but starting center Zack Williams said it won't affect the chemistry on game day.

"We always do a lot of rotating when we get in the season. We feel very comfortable with the players that are playing now and we just have to keep moving on," said Williams.

Williams himself continued to work on getting back to basics, looking to put his performance against Arizona behind him -- there were several low snaps to Jeff Tuel in the shotgun. Williams has been working hard this week on correcting the problem, and stayed after practice on Wednesday for around 15 minutes with Tuel.

"I'm feeling a little bit better about it," Williams said. "I'm kind of embarrassed on my low snaps from Saturday but it's something I'm definitely working on. I have to stop thinking about getting to the block before the snap, i just have to get the snap there then get to the block. It's something I have been having a problem with, but I'll definitely get it fixed."

THE FIRST TEAM offense and defense went head to head for 11-on-11's to open up practice. There was no hitting but the offense looked sharp early with Tuel hitting one of his receivers in stride for a nice gainer. But the defense stopped the Cougars on four consecutive plays around the 10-yard line. CB Daniel Simmons made a great play in the series to bat one pass away.

The rest of the practice session for the first team units was dominated by position drills and preparations against the scout team. With the Cougars not going full tilt the last three nights, did Wulff see what he was looking for?

"Yes," Wulff said. "We'll have a better idea on Saturday but I think that they did a good job handling how we practiced. I thought it was productive and …what we meant to get out of it was obviously to save their bodies a little bit. Hopefully we come out and we still operate at a fast pace, and we're sharp and we feel fresher. Hopefully that's what we get out of it in this game."

Starting safety Tyree Toomer couldn't agree more.

"I think going no pads the first few days helped a lot," Toomer said. "Since we don't have a bye week throughout the season, it's a grind. And we have little nicks and pains, little injuries and nagging things that hinder you during the season. This just gives us a chance to heal our bodies, loosen them up and just be fresh for Saturday."

Thursdays have typically been the no-contact day for the Cougars since Wulff has arrived, but that won't be the case this week.

"We'll have some pads out tomorrow and make sure we get some collisions," Wulff said. "We're going to need to have some."

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • WIL Alex Hoffman-Ellis was a spectator for the majority of practice again, but Wulff said he will be available to play this weekend at Stanford.

  • Safety Chima Nwachukwu (hamstring) and RB Chantz Staden (chest) were non-participants in the Wednesday session.

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