PULLMAN -- The storyline of the day on Wednesday, without question, was the defense. There were countless pass break-ups, and a pair of nice picks. The crimson larceny began with the 2s going at one another, as safety Kyle McCartney hauled in an interception for the second straight day. Meanwhile a freshman running back continued his recent habit of turning heads..
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On Kyle McCartney’s pick, QB Connor Halliday tried to find WR Bennett Bontemps but overshot. McCartney looked like a soccer goalie on the play, flying to his right and diving full extension.
A few plays later in 1s vs. 1s action, safety Deone Bucannon broke out his own horizontal aerials. Tuel wanted WR Isiah Barton in the end zone, but Bucannon also dove full extension and got his right paw on the ball, deflecting it away.
The second interception came from freshman LB Chester Sua against Halliday who again was trying to find Bontemps in traffic. Sua grabbed it cleanly and stormed up field. Sua has made plenty of plays throughout camp, but Wulff issued a reminder he’s only a true frosh.
"He's shown flashes, and like any guy that's new at this level he has his ups and downs and that's 100 percent natural," Paul Wulff said. "We're just working on consistency with him.
"Any time you can make plays, whether it's tackling at the line of scrimmage or breaking passes up, that's great. We're getting more hands on balls with our defense than we have in a long time, so that's a positive sign at this point."
Another defenseman with a solid day -- DT Kalafitoni Pole.
Pole was consistently winning the battle up front and gaining good penetration into the backfield. The redshirt freshman has been a standout throughout fall camp. Getting dinged up and sitting out last season didn’t sit well with him.
"It just adds to my fire and hunger," Pole said. "I'm just here doing the best I can working hard and it's just showing up on the field. I can't look at the past and think what if, I have to look ahead and keep playing hard."
The offense had some bounce-back in them on Wednesday. As much as the D won the overall battle, they had to be on their toes each and every play. In one-on-one play, right after CB Daniel Simmons busted up a TD pass from Tuel to WR Marquess Wilson, the very next snap it was Wilson who put a wicked move on Simmons to easily haul in a 15-yard TD strike from Tuel.
Tuel added a couple more TD passes on the afternoon, including one to WR Jared Karstetter, besting CB Brandon Golden in coverage.
As to the ground game, much has been written, and deservedly so, about Rickey Galvin and Logwone Mitz. But true frosh RB Marcus Mason has been impressive in recent days. He turned in the play of the day on Wednesday, too.
With the 2s lined up against the 1s on defense, made a strong plant and cut and proceeded to gallop 50 yards or so to the house. Mason had other big runs of at least 10 yards -- he’s been consistently ripping those off over the last week.
But still, does Mason redshirt this season?
"I'm getting really excited but I still have to stay focused and make sure that I'm doing all my assignments correctly," Mason said. "I'd always like to play my first year, I'd never want to take a year off but depending on what the coaches want me to do I'll play it by ear and do whatever the team needs me to do."
Over on special teams, the field goal kicking was inconsistent. K Andrew Furney was 3-of-6 on his attempts during live drills, connecting twice for 42 and once from 47. Furney missed twice from 47, and once from 42.
Long snapper Zach Koepp struggled early -- on the first FG try, his toss bounced a foot short of holder Dan Wagner. Alex Den Bleyker also got in some reps as the long snapper, but both aren’t hitting a consistent enough level yet.
Overall, Wulff said he was pleased with how the team was able to regain focus and bounce back Wednesday after a lackluster session on Tuesday.
"You know we were better," Wulff said. "They grinded through practice pretty good and these are two typical work days and it was a pretty good day."
RUNNING WITH THE 1s on Day 16
QB: Jeff Tuel
X receiver: Marquess Wilson
Flanker: Isiah Barton
Z receiver: Jared Karstetter
TE Andrei Lintz
LT: David Gonzales
LG: John Fullington
C: Andrew Roxas
RG: B.J. Guerra
RT: Wade Jacobson
RB: Logwone Mitz (Rickey Galvin also saw substantial action)
LE: Travis Long
LT: Kalafitoni Pole
RT: Anthony Laurenzi
RE: Skylar Stormo
SAM: Sekope Kaufusi
MIKE: C.J. Mizell
WILL: Alex Hoffman-Ellis
CB: Nolan Washington (Note: Daniel Simmons and he split time running with the 1s)
SS: Deone Bucannon
FS: Tyree Toomer (Note: Casey Locker also seeing action running with the 1s)
CB: Damante Horton
During a blocking drill, the receivers were matched up against the defensive backs, and the offensive players shined. The highlight was when freshman WR Isiah Myers drove safety Tyrone Duckett back about five yards and plowed him to the turf.
TE Aaron Dunn returned to practice after being held out for the last week or so with a quad injury.
OL Jake Rodgers (shoulder ), center Taylor Meighen (concussion), and DT David Davis (shoulder) did not practice due to injury.
Alex Mitchell and Rahmel Dockery were again in street clothes as they, the Cougs, fans, cats, dogs, fish, birds and pretty much all of Western Civilization waits for the NCAA to give them the green light.
The Cougs’ roster has expanded with the start of classes. Going through their second session today were a group that included DL Justin Mann, OL Joe Kaleta and DB Trase Pickering. As their teammates had to do at the start of camp, the walk-ons have to go through three practices before they can don full pads and engage in contact.
DE Adam Coerper was not at practice because of class, Skylar Stormo stepped in with the 1s for the day.