The last practice before school starts – the first day of classes is tomorrow – was without pads and was short and focused. Read on for our corresponding report.
• When WSU practices without pads, as was the case Sunday, there's no scrimmaging, of course, and very few team drills. Most of the time is spent working on individual fundamentals and position skills. Both were on display late in practice when the quarterbacks, receivers and running backs came together for their quick passing drill we've written about before. Four positions – tight end, running back, flanker and wide-out – run patterns for a single quarterback, and he tries to connect with them quickly. Up until Sunday, the record for consecutive completions – all four have to completed for any passes in the group to be counted – was 16. That fell. And no passes did until the count reached, by my count 62, though the official number will be 56, because I counted three completions on either side of the official four-pass set. Even without defense, with the speed the patterns are run, with four different quarterbacks throwing four different types of passes, the number of consecutive completions was impressive. It went on so long it threatened to delay the end of practice. "If they had started their string earlier in the their drill it wouldn't have been an issue," WSU coach Paul Wulff said. "No, that was good. We've come a long ways. To get six in a row last year would have been a big deal." ... Wide receiver Daniel Blackledge was able to participate in parts of practice. The junior's return means there's still three wide-outs still not ready to go – Jeshua Anderson, Johnny Forzani and Jeffrey Solomon. "It's important we get some of these guys back for this (upcoming) week's preparation," Wulff said, though he acknowledge that WSU won't be preparing for Stanford for another week. "They need some practice still before we get to game week," he said. "We would like to have three of the four back through this next week."
• The Cougars get Monday off then they'll start their regular practice schedule of going every day at 3 p.m. ... It's less than two weeks to Stanford and Wulff was asked about opening with a conference game. "Ideally we all want to start with a nonconference game," Wulff said. "It's not what ourselves or Stanford want to do, but we're both in the same situation." … A few notes from practice: The Kevins, Lopina and Norrell, teamed up for a perfect pitch-and-catch touchdown in the short skelly drill. ... Gino Simone was sporting a pair of white shoes, the first I've seen at practice this year. Yes, they were Nikes. ... Former WSU running back Chris Ivory is on the roster at Tiffin University, an NCAA Division II school in Ohio coached by former Cougar assistant Dave Walkosky. Ivory can play this year. ... Brandon Jones didn't run from drill to drill as everyone is supposed to do between periods. No, the cornerback did at least five side rolling tumbles like a cheerleader as he headed to the next session.
• That's it for tonight. We'll be back as usual tomorrow morning with our links. Until then …