WSU SPRING DAY 8: Fight time on the Palouse

WSU SPRING DAY 8: Fight time on the Palouse

PULLMAN — The intensity of Saturday's spring football practice could be felt from 25 rows up in the stands at Martin Stadium. There were several moments throughout Day 8 where the pushing, shoving and arguing contained upward of 15 players. During actual game action, the offense again had its way with the young secondary, which featured a new face at cornerback.

The fighting didn't bother Coach Mike Leach too much, as long as it didn't take away from his precious practice time.

"If they wanna fight, fight (on the sideline)," Leach said. "If they don't get off the field quick enough, I'll run them for wasting time."

It was hard to tell who initiated, reacted or even participated in the melee because everyone suddenly became calm and the crowd dispersed. The first big brouhaha involved the first-team defense vs the scout-team offense.

When the players weren't each other's throats, Leach said he thought they did good work on Saturday. He said both the offense and defense were on the brink of playing at high-quality levels.

"We're a whisker away from good things on both sides (of the ball) but we bounced around good and we had good effort," he said.

Leach also commended the work of his offensive line, a unit he verbally reprimanded in Thursday's practice.

"They're playing well, they're young, they're doing everything they can, they're getting a lot of stuff thrown at them," Connor Halliday said of the offensive line. "The other thing people gotta realize is, they're going up against Toni Pole ... Xavier Cooper ... our d-line ain't too shabby so they're going against some stiff competition."

Some potentially big news involving a position change -- putting on a white jersey for the first time this spring and working out with the defense at corner was Sebastian LaRue.

The Texas A&M transfer joined the WSU program as a wide receiver, but on Saturday spent about three plays guarding WR Drew Loftus in the team period. He was not targeted on any of his reps. It was the first time this spring he did not work on offense and Leach said they're considering having him make the switch.

The youthful five up front on the o-line features a competition within itself at the center position between redshirt sophomore Sam Flor and true sophomore Riley Sorenson. They've been splitting reps with the 1s and 2s throughout spring.

"I think both of them are playing great right now," Halliday said. "I really enjoy working with both of them, both of them work really hard and both of them are doing everything they can to get the calls out and play as fast as we can."

Halliday said ideally he would like a starter to be decided sooner rather than later and he hopes before the end of spring one of the two centers steps up and takes the reins, which he says hasn't happened yet.

THE BATTLE AT running back continues to be led by Theron West, who Leach consistently has praised this spring and named as the front runner of the ongoing competition.

West, who returned to practice Saturday after an absence Thursday, primarily ran with the 1s and was the only running back of the group to find the end zone on the second day of full pads.

Halliday found West wide open downfiled on a scramble drill during the live 11-on-11 period. Once the redshirt senior hauled in the pass, he kicked it into high gear, winning a foot race against WILL linebacker Tana Pritchard to the goal line, a moment West said he wouldn't let the defense forget.

"Now I get go to the locker room and talk to them," West said jokingly, adding that he planned to find Pritchard later to gloat about the play.

That marked the first of two touchdown passes Halliday would eventually throw in the team period. His second score came on a pass to WR Vince Mayle, who has been one of Halliday's favorite targets this spring.

"Vince is a heck of a player," Halliday said. "We're going to ride him the rest of the year."

Overall, Halliday was 10 of 17 in the team period, which was again an unofficial scrimmage although referees were present. The Cougs have yet to hold an official scrimmage this spring. In 7-on-7s, Halliday completed 14 of his 19 attempts with no touchdowns or interceptions.

Taking the snaps behind Halliday in 7-on-7s was Luke Falk, who went 11 of 20 in the drill with one touchdown to Mayle on a long ball over CB Marcellus Pippins.

The defense had its moments during Falk's time, too -- I counted five pass breakups during the drill with the two by CB Tracy Clark and S Beau Glover coming on potential scoring plays. Linebacker Mitchell Peterson and CBs Daquawn Brown and Pippins also tallied deflections in the drill.

Falk had a short, though efficient, stint in the team period, completing 5 of his 7 passes. He also was "sacked" once.

Sharing the backup QB reps with Falk was Tyler Bruggman, who went 5 of 10 with a touchdown to Loftus in the team period.

Saturday's practice featured a large crowd of spectators with Mom's Weekend going on at WSU. It was by far the most spectators present for a practice this spring. The added audience didn't go unnoticed, says West.

"We wanted to just put on a show man," West said. "We love it, we truly do. Go Cougs."

In the kicking game, Erik Powell made tries from 41 and 49 yards out but had his 33-yard attempt blocked by Xavier Cooper in the team period. Wes Concepcion was wide left on a 42-yard kick, his only attempt during the live period.

  • WR Gabe Marks again began the day running routes with the offense but did not participate in contact drills.

  • WRs Dom Williams and Isiah Myers did not participate in any team activities, while Brett Bartolone was again absent from practice for the third straight day. WSU under Leach doesn't discuss injuries or absences.

  • S Isaac Dotson also was limited on Saturday and did not participate in contact drills.

  • Leach said backup S Bennett Bontemps has "resigned" and gone on to work on his degree.

  • If the season began today, the top 10 guys in the receiving rotation would be Mayle, River Cracraft, Rickey Galvin, Kristoff Williams, Drew Loftus, Robert Lewis, Tyler Baker, Daniel Lilienthal, Willie Roach and Calvin Green.

    Once Bartolone, Marks, Myers and Dom Williams rejoin the team, expect Lilienthal, Green, Baker and Roach to be bumped out.

    QB – Connor Halliday
    RB – Theron West and Jamal Morrow
    X – Vince Mayle
    Y – River Cracraft
    H – Rickey Galvin
    Z – Kristoff Williams
    LT – Joe Dahl
    LG – Gunnar Eklund
    C – Sam Flor and Riley Sorenson
    RG – Jacob Seydel
    RT – Cole Madison

    CB – Tracy Clark and Daquawn Brown
    S – Taylor Taliulu and Beau Glover
    MIKE – Darryl Monroe
    BUCK – Ivan McLennan
    WILL – Tana Pritchard
    SAM – Cyrus Coen
    NT – Toni Pole
    T – Xavier Cooper
    E – Destiny Vaeao

    QB – Luke Falk and Tyler Bruggman
    RB – Teondray Caldwell and Gerard Wicks
    X – Daniel Lilienthal
    Y – Tyler Baker
    H – Robert Lewis
    Z – Drew Loftus
    LT – Devonte McClain
    LG – Cody O'Connell
    C – Sam Flor and Riley Sorenson
    RG – Eduardo Middleton
    RT – Cole Madison

    CB – Charleston White and Marcellus Pippins
    S – Darius Lemora and David Bucannon
    MIK – Jeremiah Allison
    BUCK – Kache Palacio
    WILL – Chester Su'a
    SAM – Mitchell Peterson and Paris Taylor
    NT – Robert Barber
    T – Lyman Faoliu
    E – Daniel Ekuale

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