PRACTICE: Cougs goin' fast; Wilson talks LBs

JUSTIN SAGOTE

PULLMAN—Tuesdays on the Washington State practice field are a cram session. And there's a lot to prepare for with the Cougs facing Oregon on Saturday night. The Cougar offense had a productive day, but Ken Wilson wasn't overly impressed by the work of his linebackers. Meanwhile, wideout Kristoff Williams and cornerback Alex Jackson were not in attendance. First though, about that Tuesday practice…

"I thought it went good," Mike Leach said of the Cougs' session.

Ken Wilson was more measured when assessing his position group.

"Today? They did alright today," Wilson said. "Tuesday is always frantic trying to learn the new stuff and get up to game speed again, but they did alright for a Tuesday practice."

Oregon's offense leads the Pac-12 in yards per attempt at 10.4 and Wilson and the rest of the defensive position coaches were doing their best to replicate the speed.

That's going to be difficult when it comes Duck quarterback Marcus Mariota – after all, how many teams have a backup just like Mariota at their disposal for use on the scout team? (Answer: none.) Still, the Cougars were giving it a go. At the beginning of practice, sophomore WR Drew Loftus put on a yellow penny and took snaps under center with the scout team.

"They make big plays when you're not where you're supposed to be," Wilson said of Oregon's offense. "That's the sleight of hand that they use. If one guy is not where he is supposed to be and they find it, it's a big play. Obviously the past couple of games we have had some issues with big plays that have caught us. So, we are working more on our guys being in the right place than where Oregon is going to be."

The Ducks have only given up five sacks while Mariota has compiled 17 passing touchdowns and eight rushing touchdowns. On top of that, he has yet to throw an interception.

"The most important thing is he runs the unit," Leach said of Mariota. "I think those running backs that they've had are really good, but I've always thought the key is at quarterback (for Oregon.) They have a good guy there that orchestrates things. He's a dual-threat guy, he runs better than he throws it, but he is good at both."

THE WIL, SAM and MIK have been efficient for the Cougs this season, but there's still a lot of youth in the linebacker corps. Sophomore outside linebacker Feddie Davey has been emerging the last few weeks in both practice and in Thursday Night Football, but he got dinged up against Oregon State.

"Feddie unfortunately got tweaked a little bit," Wilson said. "We got him slowed down just a little bit, but he was really pushing to get on the field."

Davey was limited Tuesday and rode the bikes for the majority of practice.

Sophomore linebacker Jeremiah Allison continues to be an excellent special teams player on Saturdays and is a standout on Thursday Nights as well. He is also extremely versatile.

"Jeremiah is on the field and he is in the mix," Wilson said. "The thing about Jeremiah is he backs up like four positions. So while he is still a young guy, he's knowledgeable and he can pass rush and he is a good dropper. He knows middle linebacker. We are training him there.

"Both of those guys (Davey and Allison) are heavily in the mix now and in the future and we are just trying to keep those guys healthy and get as many guys in the rotation as we can right now."

In addition to Allison and Davey, redshirt junior Mitch Peterson (6-2, 200) has impressed Wilson as well. He moved from safety to the SAM and was put on scholarship earlier this year.

"He's a big guy and he is very conscientious," Wilson said. "He's given us some good pass coverage skills out there when we needed it. In the game there at Cal, Eric (Oertel) was down. So, we got him in there and he gave us some quality reps. So, that was optimistic for us. He has been a pass cover surprise for us and we are training him to be a linebacker in the run game right now, so as that comes along he will play more."

Eric Oertel, a senior SAM, returned to practice today as a full participant.

Freshman MIK Peyton Pelluer was still a limited participant Tuesday but that should change soon, said Wilson. Pelluer has been riding the bikes for the majority of practice the past few weeks.

"Peyton's back this week," Wilson said. "Hopefully he will be back out here full tomorrow. He has been doing stuff, he just hasn't been back in the reps. We are still planning on getting him reps and getting him ready to go."

OVER ON OFFENSE, the quarterback reps were dispersed per usual with Connor Halliday taking 20 snaps and redshirt freshman Austin Apodaca getting 10 in both the skelly and the team sessions.

Halliday missed only one of his 20 pass attempts in skelly and there were only two missed connections of the 20 throws during the team session. Apodaca went a perfect 10 for 10 in both skelly and team. Between the two of them, there were no interceptions.

AS MENTIONED EARLIER, Kristoff Williams and freshman cornerback Alex Jackson were both absent on Tuesday. Leach was asked if anything was going on with Williams.

"No," Leach replied.

Jackson was a different story.

"Alex Jackson is not doing so well," Leach said. "Alex Jackson is suspended."

Leach went on to say Jackson was suspended indefinitely. Beyond that, and as usual with Leach considering such events internal team matters, no further details were given.

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR Mike Breske had his first unit going against the scouts as usual, but with Loftus under center for some of the session. The defense looked disciplined and made some excellent plays.

Freshman cornerback Daquawn Brown had an interception off of freshman QB Luke Falk. Senior corner Nolan Washington joined in on the action and picked off Falk as well.

From this chair, both picks were made possible by the pressure the defensive front got on Falk. Sophomore DE Xavier Cooper had a very good day.

Meanwhile, senior WIL Justin Sagote showed a real nose for the football with a pass breakup and three "tackles" in the session.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Rickey Galvin ran with the 1s at the H. Brett Bartolone, as assistant Dave Yost said Monday in Spokane, has been dealing with injuries much of this season.

  • Senior safety Deone Bucannon has been named to CBSSports.com's midseason All-America second team, the website announced Tuesday. Bucannon leads the Pac-12 in tackles with 64 and is tied for second with four interceptions.

    Running with the 1s:

    OFFENSE
    QB- Connor Halliday
    RB- Marcus Mason
    X Receiver- Dom Williams
    H Receiver- Rickey Galvin
    Y Receiver- River Cracraft
    Z Receiver- Gabe Marks
    LT- Gunnar Eklund
    LG- Joe Dahl
    C- Elliott Bosch
    RG- Matt Goetz
    RT- John Fullington

    DEFENSE:
    DE- Toni Pole
    NT- Ioane Gauta
    DE- Xavier Cooper
    BUCK- Destiny Vaeao
    SAM- Cyrus Coen
    MIKE- Darryl Monroe
    WILL- Justin Sagote
    CB- Daquawn Brown
    CB – Damante Horton
    S – Deone Bucannon
    S – Taylor Taliulu

    Limited Players:
    OL Jacob Seydel
    LB Peyton Pelluer
    DL Mortiz Christ
    LB Chester Sua
    S Darius Lemora
    LB Feddie Davey

    Not in attendance:
    S Bennett Bontemps
    LS Ryan Saparto
    CB Alex Jackson
    WR Kristoff Williams
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