PRACTICE: Williams to again start over Wilson

DOMINQUE WILLIAMS

PULLMAN – Washington State might not lead any individual receiving statistical categories in the Pac-12, but they can now boast the best backup wide receiver in the nation. After not starting last week's 24-17 loss to Stanford, most assumed Marquess Wilson would earn his way back into the starting lineup. Mike Leach indicated otherwise after Wednesday's two-and-a-half hour practice.

"Well he's behind Dominique Williams," Mike Leach said. "(Wilson's) done some good things."

When asked if Williams will start against Utah Saturday, Leach offered a succinct answer.

"Yes," he said.

Both Dominique Williams and Kristoff Williams helped WSU to their most explosive passing output of the season against the Cardinal, combining for 12 catches and 137 yards. And so did Wilson. He came off the bench Saturday to haul in nine catches en route to a team=leading 100 yards receiving. Through eight games, Wilson is still leading the Cougars with 740 yards on 47 receptions.

Oh, and he also tops WSU's career yardage list for wideouts.

None of that matters a whole lot to outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons.

"He's practiced well, he's played well and he understands why," Simmons said of the benched wide receiver. "He knows what he has to do if he wants to earn it back."

Simmons said he's continued to work with Wilson on the same technique and principles since spring camp. But it's no secret that Wilson's effort play-in and play-out has come under scrutiny as the WSU offense has struggled to score points. As far back as the spring, Leach questioned his focus and drive.

"It's just the same stuff since day one-- finishing out your routes, squeezing your routes, attacking the ball in the air and being physical with your hands off your release, " Simmons said.

Meanwhile, Wilson and the rest of the wide receiving corps looked sharp throughout Wednesday's practice. Working almost exclusively against the scout team, Tuel connected on almost every target.

Just as importantly, drops were scarce.

Simmons didn't hold back when asked if the early season case of the drops is finally caput.

"I'm not happy anytime we drop a ball no matter whether it's in the red zone, or whether it's in the open field," he said. "If it's a ball that's in the air and we got our hands on it then I feel like we should make a play. I don't know if that answers your question but that's an opinion I've expressed to these guys in the meeting room and on the sidelines.

"At the end of the day they know what they need to do to be successful in this offense and they know what they need to do to be able to showcase their talents on Saturday. I don't feel like I ask a lot of them."

The offensive line didn't take any visible strides Wednesday. In fact, offensive line coach Clay McGuire appeared visibly (and audibly) irate during the early part of practice. At one point, Leach stopped drills to blast the struggling unit.

Leach said the performance of his front five limited his play calling against the Cardinal. WSU will face a Utah front seven that features consensus top-five NFL Draft pick – nose tackle Star Lotulelei.

"He's a good player who does a lot of good things," Leach said. "He has long arms and he's quick."

The head man said WSU and Utah are alike in a lot of ways.

"They're similar to us from the standpoint that we've both been searching for an identity," he said. "They had a good game last week and obviously they'll try to build on that. Both teams are just trying to figure out a way to improve and do the best they can."

Leach also had a message for the WSU players who aren't fed up with the team's current five-game skid.

"The guys who are a little more passive about (the streak)-- you wonder a little bit if they belong here," he said. "The passive ones need to find another line of hobbies."

NOTABLE NOTE:
Both Teondray Caldwell and Rickey Galvin were seen working out along the sidelines during practice. But neither player was in pads. Galvin, who presumably suffered a broken arm against UNLV early in the season, was not wearing a cast or wrist brace. Caldwell came out of the game against Cal after an apparent hit to the helmet and has not returned to the field since. WSU does not comment on injuries. The 1s

OFFENSE
LT- Gunnar Eklund
LG- John Fullington
C- Elliott Bosch
RG- Jake Rodgers
RT- Wade Jacobson
QB – Jeff Tuel
RB –Marcus Mason/Carl Winston/Leon Brooks
X-WR – Dominique Williams (Marquess Wilson at 2)
Y-WR – Brett Bartolone
Z-WR – Gabe Marks
H-WR – Gino Simone or Bobby Ratliff

DEFENSE
LT- Logan Mayes
NT- Ioane Gauta
RT- Xavier Cooper
BUCK- Travis Long
SAM- Cyrus Coen
MIKE- Darryl Monroe
WILL- Justin Sagote
CB- Anthony Carpenter
CB –Daniel Simmons
FS- Casey Locker
SS- Deone Bucannon

SPECIAL TEAMS
LS - Alex Den Bleyker
P - Mike Bowlin
KO – Bowlin
FG - Andrew Furney
KR - Rahmel Dockery, Leon Brooks, Theron West, and Brett Bartolone
PR - Brett Bartolone

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