Cougs cap last Pullman practice on high note

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PULLMAN—The Cougs held their last practice of the year in Pullman on Tuesday before catching their flight to New Mexico. From beginning to end of the session, there was good execution and focus on the task at hand. In the crisp 1 1/2 hour practice, there were individual drills, 7-on-7, special teams plus a short team session to cap things off.

Cougar coaches and players were not available to speak to the media, but from my vantage point above the Martin Stadium turf, the Cougs finished the final WSU campus practice on a high note and looked well-prepared for Colorado State.

Junior quarterback Connor Halliday had a great outing, connecting with the majority of his targets in both the team and 7-on-7 sessions. As has often been the case, the first team defense lined up against the No. 1 offense for five plays in skelly to start things off. Halliday missed his first pass to sophomore wide receiver Dom Williams, but connected with four different receivers after that.

The defense then moved down to the opposite end zone and Halliday continued to work against the defensive scout team. His passes were on point and he only had two incompletions and one could've been easily hauled in by junior running back Marcus Mason but it dropped to the turf. Halliday was 13-for-16 and did not have any interceptions.

Redshirt freshman backup quarterback Austin Apodaca had no trouble hitting his receivers and was a perfect 7-for-7 on his tosses.

IN THE TEAM SESSION, there were fewer reps than usual for the quarterbacks but the results were nearly flawless. Halliday started off by rifling off six straight completions to six different targets. On the seventh pass, he and wide receiver River Cracraft couldn't connect but that would be the only incompletion for Halliday. He finished 9-of-10 with no turnovers.

Apodaca went 4-of-5 in team session. He would have been perfect, but sophomore running back Teondray Caldwell dropped what should have been an easy completion.

Despite those two miscues, the running backs were productive. And junior running back Theron West, whom Leach praised earlier for his work in the Cougs' early bowl practices, had some good reps with the second unit. He caught a few balls and ran excellent routes.

During offensive line and defensive line drills against the scout team, senior right guard Matt Goetz was the standout in my book. He had two seals that freed up Mason plus a pancake on freshman defensive lineman Daniel Ekuale on another play.

Junior left guard Joe Dahl lined up at left tackle while sophomore Gunnar Eklund spent some time at left guard. But don't expect any position changes for the bowl game.

Earlier in the year, offensive line coach Clay McGuire explained he likes to place some of his lineman at other spots on the line to increase flexibility and in case of injury. Eklund has lined up at left tackle all year, while Dahl has held down the left guard spot.

ON DEFENSE, THE COUGS spent a huge chunk of practice working with the defensive scout team.

The defense started off at Rogers Field going through their daily fundamentals with specific position coaches.

Linebackers coach Ken Wilson noted earlier in the week that sophomore linebacker Jeremiah Allison had seen a lot of reps not just at WIL, but BUCK as well. On Tuesday, Allison along with sophomore Kache Palacio and junior Lyman Faoliu were doing fundamental drills with outside linebackers coach Paul Valero.

Along with his work at BUCK, Allison repped with the 2s at WIL when the defense went up against the scout team offense.

Palacio and sophomore Destiny Vaeao looked to have equal amount of reps at the BUCK position. Palacio looked impressive with two "sacks" on freshman quarterback Tyler Bruggman and one pass break up.

Senior WIL Justin Sagote made some good plays while running against the scouts. He was great in pass coverage and also worked his way into the backfield to post a tackle-for-loss on freshman running back Jamal Morrow.

Junior Toni Pole and senior Ioane Gauta were the standouts on the defensive line for the Cougs.

Pole tallied a "sack" on Bruggman and Gauta had a tackle-for-loss and a deflected pass.

In the secondary, senior cornerbacks Nolan Washington and Damante Horton were quick to the ball and stuck to the scout receivers like glue. Washington in particular was impressive, with an interception and two pass break-ups. True freshman cornerback Daquawn Brown also had a pass break up.

Senior safety Casey Locker, who continued to work with the first defensive unit alongside All-America safety Deone Bucannon, had one interception.

As far as special teams go, senior wide receiver Leon Brooks was the first man back returning punts. The punt return team looked great in their short work session.

Senior Mike Bowlin and junior Wes Concepcion both shared punting duties at practice. Bowlin had two punts that both traveled in the 45-yard range. However, Bowlin also had one monster punt that looked to carry about 55-60 yards. Concepcion's boots were around 40 yards.

Senior kicker Andrew Furney was a perfect 4-for-4 on his field goal kicks at Rogers Field at the beginning of practice.

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- Isiah Myers
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- Tana Pritchard
MIKE- Darryl Monroe
WILL- Justin Sagote
CB- Nolan Washington
CB – Damante Horton
S – Deone Bucannon
S – Casey Locker

Running with the 2s:
Keep in mind the coaches did a lot of shuffling here but these were the players I noticed getting the most reps with the 2s.

OFFENSE:
QB- Austin Apodaca
RB- Theron West
X Receiver- Vince Mayle
H Receiver- Bobby Ratliff
Y Receiver- Kristoff Williams
Z Receiver- Gabe Marks
LT- Devonte McClain
LG- Riley Sorenson
C- Zack Brevick
RG- Eduardo Middleton
RT- Rico Forbes

DEFENSE:
DE- Matthew Bock
NT- Robert Barber
DE- Darryl Paulo
BUCK- Kache Palacio
SAM- Cyrus Coen/Mitchell Peterson
MIKE- Jared Byers
WILL- Jeremiah Allison/Eric Oertel
CB- Daquawn Brown
CB – Daquawn Brown
S – Anthony Carpenter
S – Taylor Taliulu

Limited Players:
OL Jacob Seydel
DL Moritz Christ
LB Chester Sua
S Bennett Bontemps
S Isaac Dotson

Not in attendance:
LS Ryan Saparto

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