Cougs Day 2: Wideouts shine, tempers flare

ZACK WILLIAMS: Standing his ground on Day 2

PULLMAN -- A slight southern breeze was blowing through a quiet Rogers Field as Cougar players made their way out of the locker room Monday for Day 2 of fall camp.  It might have been the only quiet moment of practice. On a day full of intensity, receivers Daniel Blackledge and Marquess Wilson provided the highlights, while tempers flared in the trenches.

"The effort in all the drills was outstanding and the players made a lot of corrections after watching films. The key thing is you have to have competition. Having enough bodies and players at every position forces everyone to play their best." Coach Paul Wulff explained after the 2 hour and 40 minute session.

From start to finish the offense looked solid. Micah Hannam, B.J. Guerra, Andrew Roxas, Wade Jacobson, and David Gonzales were running the first-team offensive line and providing the protection for quarterback Jeff Tuel who turned in another solid performance.

One of the highlights was Tuel's perfect strike to Blackledge, who had snuck behind Nolan Washington, up the sideline. Tuel consistently made plays with his arm and turned in another day without an interception.

Alas, he and Andrew Roxas had some troubles on snaps, with two balls hitting the ground. Marshall Lobbestael also lost the handle on one snap.

Still, Lobbestael had a good day, scrambling away from pressure and at one point connecting with freshman Marquess Wilson who nearly jumped out of Rogers Field and came down with the highlight catch of practice. On another player, linebacker Jamal Atofau was out of position and Lobbestael took advantage by firing a strike to Isiah Barton for a score.

"Both quarterbacks are much further along than they were. Marshall has a lot more confidence in his knee and it is shows because he is playing with a lot more confidence. While Jeff had those six games he played in (last season), had a great spring and has come into camp exactly where I want him to be," said offensive coordinator Todd Sturdy.

Freshman QB Connor Halliday got into the fun, too. He looks comfortable and confident and teamed with Blackledge in 7-on-7 drills for a pretty play capped by Blackledge's acrobatic grab.

At running back, where the stable is full, the competition is tight. And senior James Montgomery, coming off his horrific leg injury, looks fully recovered. Montgomery, Chantz Staden, Marcus Richmond and Logwone Mitz all spent time with the 1's Monday.

"We all bring different things to the table, the young guys are little and quick," Montgomery told CF.C. "Chantz is the vocal guy while I am laid back to the point where the other backs call me Grandpa. It doesn't matter who has a thousand yards at the end of the season. Just as long as we win, everything else will follow."

While the offense was mostly cookin' with gas, the defense was fired up too. Washington, a second-year freshman, was handling the snaps with the 1's at one corner spot and Tuel and Lobbestael pressed him hard and he mostly aquitted himself well, though got his feet crossed up once during 7-on-7 action and allowed a big gain. His corner counterpart, Aire Justin, had a superb day, breaking up two passes. The secondary generally did a nice job keeping the ball in front of them.

Linebackers Mike Ledgerwood, Myron Beck, and Hallston Higgins spent the majority of the day with the 1's making it difficult for the RB's to find too much space. Darren Markle and Casey Locker both showed a year of experience under their belts spending the majority of practice with the twos. Freshman C.J. Mizell is also proving to be a quick learner, running with the second-unit defense during 7-on-7 drills.

Along the DL, Travis Long, Kevin Kooyman, Brandon Rankin, and Bernard Wolfgramm put steady pressure on the offense Backing them up today were Casey Hamlett, Anthony Laurenzi, Steven Hoffart, and Jordan Pu'u Robinson. There was evidently no love lost between the two lines when a skirmish broke out between the offensive and defensive lines during the early rounds of team passing. It appeared that guard Zack Williams took exception to the left side of the defensive line and he let them know about it.

On special teams, kicker Nico Grasu led the way connecting on every trey attempted during simulation, and newcomer Andrew Furney showed a lot of leg connecting on 6 of 7 attempts. Punter Reid Forrest continued to show why he is one of the best in the Pa- 10, consistently booming long punts. Newcomer Jacob Miller of Spokane is backing Forrest up and is showing he could be a standout someday.

NOTABLE:

  • Noticeably missing from practice Monday was Tyson Pencer who is recovering from a stomach ailment. Not practicing was Justin Clayton and Aaron Gehring. Gehring is nursing a slight hamstring and Clayton has a minor knee tweak. Louis Bland was also on the sideline in street clothes.

  • While the receivers continued to look sharp Monday, the younger guys among them periodically dropped catchable balls.

  • Todd Sturdy is quick to answer the question about the offense that Coug fans can expect to see on Saturdays. "We are a no-huddle team. Period."

  • The Cougs will put on shoulder pads tomorrow but full contact is still a couple days off.


    DANIEL BLACKLEDGE HAULS ONE AS NOLAN WASHINGTON BATTLES.

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