PULLMAN — Jeff Tuel might have a restless sleep tonight. If his day is a prologue to his evening, he’s going to have visions of Mike Ledgerwood dancing in his head. And Steven Hoffart. And Nolan Washington. And Kevin Kooyman. In the Cougars’ first scrimmage of fall camp, the defense mostly ruled both the field and line of scrimmage.
“I came out ready to play, my legs were fresh, and I was hyped. I was ready to hit people.” Ledgerwood, the junior linebacker from Kennewick, told CF.C. In one series against the No. 1 offense, he shot the gap to take down running back Chantz Staden for a two-yard loss and then, two plays later, jumped the route and dropped what should have been an interception for a touchdown.
“Everyone is going to see a bigger and faster team on the field this year,” Ledgerwood said. “We worked hard in the off season and are ready to show it … I want to have at least ten tackles in every game this fall and play my tail off to get it.”
His impressive work followed big plays in previous series’ by Hoffart, a JC transfer defensive tackle, Kooyman, the senior defensive end, and Washington, the second-year freshman cornerback.
The defense's work in this inaugural scrimmage was all the more impressive because starting tackles Brandon Rankin and Bernard Wolfgramm sat the day out.
Tuel completed 3 of 9 passes for 27 yards. He and the first-team offense ran into trouble early on against the No. 1 D. The first series ended with the defensive line, led by Kooyman, collapsing on Tuel.
The second 1 vs. 1 series included a couple of nice 5-yard runs by Logwone Mitz, but the defense took over. Hoffart sacked Tuel for a large loss and then, one play later, a Tuel pass intended for Jeffrey Solomon was tipped by Chima Nwachukwu and picked off by Washington.
The third 1 vs. 1 series featured the Ledgerwood exploits.
“We came out a little emotionally flat but we got a lot of work done and we can definitely teach off it … Our defense showed consistency in terms of being in the right spots for the most part and tackling well,” Paul Wulff told CF.C after the two-hour affair.
Marshall Lobbestael led the second-team offense vs. the second-team defense with a nice mix of passing and running. For the day, he completed 9-of-10 passes for 69 yards, one TD and one INT. On one series, Lobbestael hit four different receivers -- Kristoff Williams, Blair Bomber, Marquess Wilson, and Carl Winston during one series. The drive was capped with a 10-yard TD strike to Williams.
Lobbestael’s one errant pass -- intended for tight end Skylar Stormo – was picked off by Anthony Carpenter.
Lobbestael and Tuel weren’t the only QBs getting action. David Gilbertson went 2-for-2 for18 yards, freshman Connor Halliday was 3-of-5 for 56 yards and a TD, and Dan Wagner was 0-for-1.
Halliday was at the helm for the last series of the day. His work included a 20-yard dart down the seam to Isiah Barton and a 28-yard TD pass to walk on wide receiver Austin Ehlo.
The scrimmage ended in a kicking duel between senior Nico Grasu and freshman Andrew Furney. Grasu went four-for-five on his attempts, with his lone miss coming from 50 yards out. Furney went three-for-four with his miss coming from 50 yards as well.
Defensive end Jordan Pu’u-Robinson went down during the second series of the day with an injury to his right leg. It was not known at press time how severe it was. Safety Jamal Atofau also tweaked an ankle but he was walking on it at the end of the scrimmage.
Besides Rankin and Wolfgramm, several other the Cougs did not play: Aaron Gehring, Gino Simone, Jared Karstetter, Tim Hodgdon and Tyson Pencer also did not take part in the scrimmage. Louis Bland, who blew a knee last season and may redshirt this year, was on the sideline in street clothes.
Cougar legend Jason Gesser was on hand to watch the scrimmage and speak to the team.
In one series vs. second- and third-unit offensive players, freshman linebacker C.J. Mizell shot the running lane two times to stop Rickey Galvin and Leon Brooks short of first downs.
Safety LeAndre Daniels had the hit of the day when he unleashed on Marquess Wilson who was coming across the middle for a Lobbestael pass. Wilson hung onto the ball. Daniels has been impressive throughout camp.
Wilson led all receivers with six catches for 51 yards.
James Montgomery showed his leg is ready to play cutting up field. On the second play from scrimmage, he fired up a nice gain of seven yards. He finished with 20 yards on 5 carries, as did Brooks. Galvin had 19 yards on 5 carries.
Reid Forrest continued to show off his strong leg, belting two punts of 50 yards each.
The Cougars practice Sunday in the second of their five two-a-days. The morning session will begin at 8:30 a.m., while the second session will begin at 3:30 p.m. They will have Monday off. The next scrimmage is set for Thursday, Aug. 26 at 4 p.m.