A short, quick, sans-pads practice for WSU this afternoon. The Cougars spent their final two-a-day workout running through fundamental drills and situational substitutions. Read on for our short report.
• Before the rest of the team arrives at practice, the special team players get a lot in. This afternoon Marshall Lobbestael joined them and worked on his holding. Lobbestael has done it before, so I guess I could list him as the backup holder, behind punter Reid Forrest. Freshman Alex Reitnouer was out as well, working on his long snapping. Again, another backup, he to long snapper Zach Enyeart. As last year showed, WSU can't have too-much depth at every position. ... Most of practice was devoted to the same type of stuff WSU does at a Friday walk-through. A situation was defined, say first-and-10 from the 30, and the No. 1 offense was called out. The unit runs out, there is no defense. A pass is thrown, every one runs 70 yards to the end zone and jumps up and down. The extra point is kicked. Kickoff coverage team races on the field, a lone returner goes back. The ball is booted, every one runs to the poor returner and stops. The No. 1 defense runs out. A coach takes the ball, drops back, throws an interception and the 11 defenders convoy to the end zone. You get the picture. Only once was a group called for, second punt I believe, and a player was late getting on the field. "We just go through scenarios of what a game would be like to make sure we can operate in and out with all the units that have to change going on the field and off the field," coach Paul Wulff said. "It's early, but we like doing it just so when we come back to it before the game we've got some comfort level there."
• With fall camp basically wrapping up Sunday as school starts Monday, Wulff was asked if his team had made the strides he expected. "In some areas we've really done better than I had anticipated," he said. "In some other areas maybe not as good." One area he mentioned as progressing slowly was the receiver position. He said the injuries have slowed down the progress and stunted the growth between quarterbacks and receivers. Wulff also said pretty much everything is in, which was the goal before school started. With one practice a day, Wulff expects the intensity to build toward the opener. "When we get back to practice officially ... we should be able to practice at a high level."
• One last note. Alex Hoffman-Ellis actually was doing a little running in the afternoon and Wulff said the MRI ruled out a stress fracture. Expect the middle linebacker to be back at practice next week. While he has been sidelined, freshman Darren Markle showed he can man the position, so don't expect him to redshirt. It looks like he'll be on lots of special teams and assume the role of Hoffman-Ellis' backup. ... The Cougars last practice for the week will be at 3 p.m. on Sunday.
• That's it for tonight. We'll be back tomorrow morning with our links. Until then …