SCRIMMAGE 2: Offense owns it, Wilson electric

WR MARQUESS WILSON

PULLMAN -- The incoming freshman class arrived to the Palouse with high expectations this fall – and the good news for Cougar fans is they're playing at a high level on the field. One who has shined brightly is WR Marquess Wilson, and the Tulare, California native put on a show in Saturday morning's scrimmage that turned heads and left little doubt he is indeed Pac-10 ready.

The Cougar offense, no matter which unit was out there, had a good day. The scrimmage pitted the No. 1 offense against the No. 2 defense, with the 1s on defense going against the second team offense. Marquess Wilson ran with both units.

"He's had a good camp and he's young but he's doing some good things for us," Wulff said.

Wulff has not said who will redshirt and who will play this year but it would appear hard to keep Wilson off the field on Saturdays this fall. He had five catches in this morning's scrimmage and led the team with 110 receiving yards.

His first snag came when the No. 2 offense was matched up against the first team defense. QB Marshall Lobbestael threw a 10 yard rope hitting Wilson in stride. With CB Nolan Washington in coverage, Wilson put on a wicked stutter step, juking the defensive back, and jolted down field for the 44-yard touchdown scamper.

"I just did a little rip move and went in and out, knowing that I had to get upfield -- just like coach Levy (Mike Levenseller) teaches us," Wilson said.

Wilson and Lobbestael later connected on a 36-yard gainer where Wilson again put the moves on Washington.

"He's a talented guy," Lobbestael said. "Anytime you've got a guy that young and talented it's fun to work with him. He was just making plays, I would throw some short passes and he's turn them into big plays. And quarterbacks love when their receivers can do that.

"You know I'm not really that impressed," starting QB Jeff Tuel quipped. "I expect that from him really. I know he's a talented guy and can do a lot with the football. It was really nice to see him pick up some YAC yards today and that was encouraging."

Wilson went on to tell CF.C this morning that the experience is surreal, and that the excitement for week one against Oklahoma State gets bigger day in and day out.

"It feels pretty good just knowing that I have to come out here and work as hard as everybody else just to make the whole team better," Wilson said.

WILSON WASN'T THE only playmaker on Saturday. Tuel, after the first team offense got off to a slow start in the first series, drove the Cougars downfield against the second team D with a 10 play 70-yard drive, capped off by a four yard TD pass to WR Daniel Blackledge.

Tuel finished 8-of-14 for 104 passing yards, and added a 28-yard TD pass later to WR Jeffrey Solomon on a beautiful lob pass.

"We came out a little flat in the first drive, didn't execute as well as we would have liked to," Tuel said. "But you know it's just continuing to build that confidence and belief that no matter what the down and distance is, no matter what we need to do, that we can get it done. I think that confidence and belief in each other is really helping out a lot.

The running game had its moments, with RB's Chantz Staden, James Montgomery, and Logwone Mitz leading the way for the first team, while Rickey Galvin had some nice gainers with the second team. Staden had a nice afternoon -- he looked smooth catching balls out of the backfield and exploding north.

"We put our hats on the right people blocking and our running backs did their job," Wulff said. "When we missed a guy here and there then, it was a negative play, but I thought our defense was pretty good. There were few missed tackles out there so that part is something we've got to get cleaned up."

LOBBESTAEL HAD A nice morning against the first team defense, throwing for 119 yards, the touchdown strike to Wilson and no picks.

"Obviously Jeff and Marshall have some game experience and it's the first time we've had that luxury truly, two players that have a certain level of comfort with the offense," Wulff said. It's what we've been working towards to get, and we finally got it in the right direction in that position."

Lobbestael's knee injury he suffered two years ago at Oregon State, something that adversely affected his play last year, truly looks to be a thing of the past. He was getting out of the pocket with a great deal of speed Saturday and when needed, was able to run for a couple nice gains in the 7-8 yard range.

"It's awesome," Lobbestael said on the health of his surgically repaired knee. "I feel way better than last year mobility wise. Coach Levat has a great workout for us in the summer and I worked really hard. I still wear the brace just for safety but I feel good running and I feel like I can still get faster."

THE DEFENSE held the upper hand for almost all of the first half of fall camp, but that was not the case today.

The offense won the battle regardless of whether they were going against first or second strings, with three touchdowns and no turnovers.

THE COUGARS have a lot of experienced depth at the RB position this year but no one back has emerged as a clear starter or home-run hitter. Staden led all rushers Saturday with 25 yards on only four carries.

Wulff says it's still an even race, and there is no clear-cut starter for week one.

"They've all had limited opportunities which in a lot of ways is a good thing," Wulff said. "No one has separated themselves, all of them have shown good things and we're hoping with some time off this next week maybe we can get some guys to emerge."

The Cougars return to the practice field this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. but Wulff explained he's going to give his work horses a much lighter load for the afternoon session, and in Sunday's 8:30 a.m. session as well.

"We're going to try and take away a lot of the hits off of them today, tomorrow and give them Monday off for school," said Wulff. "We're going to taper them down, get them refreshed, give them about 48 hours plus off.

"Then we'll be back Tuesday afternoon and we have to get back after it real physical and have a great week of practice."

NOTABLE NOTES:
K Nico Grasu and K Andrew Furney both went 1-of-2 in their attempts with Grasu connecting from 48 but missing from 41, and Furney hitting his 41-yarder and missing from 48. The competition there continues to look to be just about dead even.

LeAndre Daniels and Tyson Pencer were among those who sat the scrimmage out. Daniels has a sore neck and Pencer is getting over a stomach ailment.

Scrimmage Stats
RUSHING
Chantz Staden (4/25); Ricky Galvin (4/15); Jeff Tuel (3/14); James Montgomery (4/13); Carl Winston (2/9); Marshall Lobbestael (1/7); Logwone Mitz (1/4); Leon Brooks (1/-2); David Gilbertson (2/-10).

PASSING
Jeff Tuel (8/14/104/2/0); Marshall Lobbestael (7/9/119/1/0); David Gilbertson (0/3/0/0/0)

RECEIVING
Marquess Wilson (5/110 TD); Jeffrey Solomon (3/68 TD); Chantz Staden (2/22); Jared Karstetter (1/9); Marcus Richmond (1/7); Daniel Blackledge (1/4 TD); Ricky Galvin (1/2); James Montgomery (1/1)

. SACKS
Dan Spitz (1); Steven Hoffart (1)

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