Is Tyrone Duckett now being tried as a linebacker?
Any updates of linemen drills and execution?
The offensive linemen look great, physically. John Fullington, Dan Spitz, and Gunnar Eklund all caught my eyes as big guys who were still moving well on the field.
Rico Forbes walked off the field in a boot on day 2, and had a brace on day 3, so I wasn't able to see much from him. Still haven't heard why Wade Jacobsen hasn't been at practice, but same goes for him.
How have Andrew Furney and Michael Bowlin looked on field goals, punts, and kickoffs?
What's Rahmel Dockery doing? Returns? Slot? Both?
Which fall camps have you covered in the past? If so, how did what you saw in the first 3 days of the Cougars camp compare?
When are you coming back? I thought it was great that you interviewed different members of the coaching staff and guys whose names won't necessarily be in the newspapers.
As for returning to Pullman….I'll be back whenever CF.C wants me back!
What triggered this level of coverage? Will you be returning to cover the Cougs throughout the season?
Really enjoyed your reporting, Annabel. My question is if you were the WSU track coach and could pick 4 guys from the football team for the 4 x 100 relay, who would they be?
Who among the first year guys looks to have a shot of playing this year based on what you saw? Do any of them look like they could even be a starter?
Quarterback Austin Apodaca looked a bit frazzled on Day 1, but looked much more comfortable as the days progressed. However, with two extremely capable guys in Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday, I'd expect him to redshirt. However, this also relies on both Tuel and Halliday remaining healthy all season. The other freshman QB, Conner Johnson, looks to have a solid arm, but like I stated earlier on the board, I wouldn't be surprised if he were to switch positions. At 6-5, 222 pounds, I could even see him gaining some weight and switching to that Y-receiver.
The other offensive newcomer I've been really impressed with is Theron West. He's only listed at 5-7, 171 pounds, but he was getting a lot of carries and usually was able to take them all the way to the end zone. I think he'd be good as a return man, as well.
Defensively, there is a LOT of talent amongst the freshmen and new guys. Though Robert Barber has some stiff competition at nose tackle, with both Ioane Gauta and Kalafitoni Pole impressing, I think he could see potentially the field this year.
Safety Feddie Davey drew my attention this week, and Mike Leach was high on him, as well. The freshmen linebackers, including Keith Ewing, Jeremiah Allison, Khalil Pettway and Kache Palacio all show great potential. The challenge there is adjusting to the speed of the collegiate game, especially in the Pac-12. If I had to pick starters out of those guys, based off of the first three days, I'd give the nod to Ewing, but I covered Allison throughout his senior season and know what he's capable of on the field.
Re: JUCO transfers and other newcomers: keep an eye on Justin Sagote. The linebacker had some big hits (well, as big as hits as you can have without full pads) and actually showed notable progression in just the few days I was there.
I really like Chester Sua, as well. He's another guy who shows an ability to get to the ball, but what really stood out is that he consistently stepped up to whatever challenge the coaches posed and was already displaying leadership.
Again, talent is not an issue with this class. Lots of stars or few stars, whatever. Like Leach has said, the stars are gone. The biggest challenge is inexperience, but if this class is just an inkling of what kind of players the staff will bring in over the next few years, get excited.
How good of an offense do you think they'll have with respect to Pac-12 competition? How good of a defense? Granted, I know you only saw the first three days but what's your gut feel?
If you take into consideration a.) how talented WSU's receiving corps is and b.) that the new coach is Mike Leach, who happens to have an incredible offensive track record, I'd say you'd be crazy to discount the Cougs.
Defensively…well, everyone knows the Pac-12 isn't known for their defense. I think Utah has a star, quite literally, with lineman Star Lotulelei, and I think he'll be the best defensive player in the conference this year. It's hard to answer this one exactly, since I haven't spent as much time watching other teams as I have the Cougs, but with all the changes and disarray happening in the conference this season, this is the perfect breakout year for the Cougs. Aside from USC, who has most of the cards in their favor leading them to the conference championship, and perhaps Oregon, I think the conference is on level playing field.
Did the Cougs do much special teams work and if so, who were the gunners and which guys stood out to you?
In fact, now I'm starting to reconsider the 4x1 question. I'd like to add Galvin to the list. Bartolone, too.
Where were the early position battles shaping up most? Who looked to have the upper hand?
Cornerback is another spot. With three returners in Damante Horton, Nolan Washington and Daniel Simmons, you'd think the experience gives them the upper hand. While I noticed both Horton and Washington making some big plays, it's going to be interesting to see how new Cougar Raymond Ford progresses over camp.
No surprise here...I think Travis Long will be the starter at BUCK. He comes off as the leader of the defense, and though he and Logan Mayes are essentially the same size, he has the experience. But both guys are key to the defense, and I'd be shocked if Mayes didn't get heavy playing time this year.
With four receivers out there on any given down, I'd expect the rotation to be pretty frequent. The Cougs definitely have the depth for it. Obviously, Wilson has the talent, but I think we'll see some big plays from Andrei Lintz, Gino Simone, Mansel Simmons, Dominique Williams and Kristoff Williams, as well as the aforementioned Marks and Bartolone. The Cougars are going to surprise the college football world at receiver this year.
Do you see Tuel and Halliday really competing for the job or do you think it's clearly Tuel all the way?
What running back impressed you?
Returners Rickey Galvin, Leon Brooks and Carl Winston all looked good on the field. The entire unit seems to be adjusting to the new offense well, and like Galvin mentioned to me in our interview, he's enjoying being involved in the pass game with screens. One thing the backs don't have, however, is size. Winston remains the closest thing to a power back on the roster, but at only 5-8, 192, he'll have to find a way to run through the defensive big boys when the offense chooses to run the ball in goal line formation.
What do you think might surprise some people this year based on what you saw?
Marks will make an impression as a freshman.
Defensively, keep an eye on Sua, as well as Sagote. Can't say how much playing time they'll get this year but if they keep progressing, opposing offenses will feel their impact.