WSU SPRING DAY 6: Deep balls challenge DBs


PULLMAN — The Air Raid never has been confused with an offense that emphasizes deep passes. But that did not keep quarterbacks Connor Halliday and Luke Falk from trying it — with great success — during Tuesday's spring practice at Martin Stadium.

Coach Mike Leach said they put more pressure on the secondary with an abundance of long routes and that showed as this reporter counted 10 total touchdown passes in both 7-on-7s and team drills.

"We went downfield the whole time," Leach said when asked about testing the secondary. "I can't say it was their best day, I don't think they necessarily regressed … but we put a lot of pressure on them today and I thought the offense was pretty sharp."

The highlight play of the day came in 11-on-11 action when Halliday found RB Jamal Morrow wide open deep in the middle of the field on his second pass of the scrimmage. One of the linebackers fell down in coverage allowing Morrow to trot into the end zone after hauling in the ball.

Showing off his explosiveness Tuesday was Kristoff Williams, who caught touchdown passes from both Falk and Halliday in 7-on-7 drills.

"I thought he looked good today, Kristoff always had the ability to make a big explosive play but at times gets inconsistent," said Leach. "I thought he was real consistent today. I thought he did a real good job going up and getting the ball."

Williams, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound receiver, said he's playing with a sense of urgency and feels inclined to assume a big brother role with this being his final spring camp as a Cougar. Williams feels his experience with Halliday, who also is a redshirt senior, has been beneficial.

"We came in together, I think he threw my first touchdown my redshirt freshman year," Williams said. "We had a connection for a long time, over the years it just built up."

As a veteran matched up daily against a young group of defensive backs, Williams says it's important to really battle with players such as Charleston White and Daquawn Brown to prepare them for the rigors of the season.

"The sky's the limit for those guys a lot of talent," Williams said. "(We're) just trying to push them as hard as we can because they're gonna have to play a lot this year. (We're) trying build them up all we can."

Other players on the receiving end of scoring plays were Rickey Galvin, Vince Mayle, Tyler Baker and Drew Loftus, who corralled three touchdowns.

In addition to catching passes, Galvin found himself in an altercation with safety Isaac Dotson. Mayle and senior defensive back Tracy Clark also found themselves trading blows at Tuesday's practice.

MEANWHILE, the running game had its share of highlights. During the team session, Teondray Caldwell carried the ball up the left side of the field, and for the second straight practice, met MIK linebacker Darryl Monroe head on. However, this collision featured a different outcome. Caldwell spun off the hit from Monroe and broke into the secondary for about a 25-yard gain before the play was whistled dead.

"I feel good every day, I feel a lot a faster," Caldwell said. "I gained five pounds. At first I was 212 and I had to lose some because I was too big but now I feel good."

But the offense did not dominate the entire session. The defensive line found its way to the quarterback in team as Xavier Cooper broke through the offensive line and "sacked" Halliday before he could even make his first read.

The secondary had its shining moment of the day when CB Daquawn Brown intercepted a pass Falk intended for Daniel Lilienthal on a bubble screen in 11-on-11 action. The pick was Brown's second of spring.

At quarterback, Halliday completed 13 of his 19 passes in 7-on-7s with three touchdown passes. He was also the victim of two coverage sacks during the drill. In team, the fifth-year senior went 9-of-13 with four touchdowns and was again forced to scramble out of bounds because of a coverage sack by the defense.

Backup QB Luke Falk was equally efficient in his reps with the offense on Tuesday, completing 7 of his 10 attempts with one touchdown in team and 15 of 20 passes to go along with two touchdowns in 7-on-7.

"I thought I did a better job today than I have in the past," said Falk, a redshirt freshman. "Little slow start in team, but toward the end we put it together."

"I thought he did good," Leach said of Falk, "He throws the ball real well and I think he put some good plays together in a row and then yeah, a few mishaps, but I thought he played good."

On special teams, the punt return men appear to be narrowed down to CBs Marcellus Pippins and Charleston White along with WRs Sebastian LaRue and Robert Lewis.

  • WRs Gabe Marks, Isiah Myers and Dom Williams continue to be limited and did not participate in team activities. WRs John Thompson and Calvin Green returned to full team activities today.

  • WR Brett Bartolone was a no-show today. Leach said he is still a member of the team and in good standing.


    QB—Connor Halliday
    RB—Marcus Mason, Jamal Morrow, Gerard Wicks and Teondray Caldwell
    X, H, Y and Z receivers—Multiple players
    LT—Joe Dahl
    LG—Gunnar Eklund
    C—Sam Flor and Riley Sorenson
    RG—Jacob Seydel
    RT—Cole Madison

    CB—Daquawn Brown and Charleston White
    S—Taylor Taliulu and Isaac Dotson
    BUCK—Kache Palacio
    SAM—Cyrus Coen
    MIKE—Darryl Monroe
    WILL—Tana Pritchard
    NT—Toni Pole
    T—Xavier Cooper
    E—Destiny Vaeao

    RUNNING WITH THE 2's on defense
    CB—Marcellus Pippins and Tracy Clark
    S—David Bucannon, Darius Lemora and Beau Glover
    T—Daryl Paulo and Daniel Ekuale
    NT—Robert Barber
    E—Lyman Faoliu
    BUCK—Ivan McLennan
    SAM—Mitchell Peterson and Paris Taylor
    MIKE—Chester Su'a and Dylan Hanser
    WILL—Jeremiah Allison

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