Good morning. Washington State opened spring practice yesterday afternoon with a spirited and actually quite efficient – considering it was the first day – workout. Read on for more thoughts.
• Let's see. What happened that was most impressive – or surprising? ... The ability of the tight ends to get space in the 7-on-7 drills. They always seemed to have separation and caught quite a few passes. ... The accuracy of Kevin Lopina, J.T. Levenseller and Marshall Lobbestael in passing drills. Only an occasional pass was way off target, as opposed to times last season when it occurred with alarming frequency. ... The defensive backfield's ability to run with the wide receivers. Devin Giles, encouraged by Brandon Jones in a light cast, had one of his better practices at corner, playing press coverage most of the time. He made contact, actually knocked a receiver or two off a route and stayed stride for stride down the field. ... The size of some of the offensive linemen. Many look bigger and none look as if their off-season weight gain came from eating Cheetos and Wavy Lays. Added muscle seemed to be what they've built since the Apple Cup. ... The height and length of Reid Forrest's punts. Impressive. Here's a guy who should make an impact in the fall. ... An acrobatic interception by linebacker Louis Bland. ... The presence of tackle Micah Hannam, coming off shoulder surgery in December. He was healthy enough to walk through plays with the O-line.
• How about the flip side. What wasn't impressive? ... Five defensive players not at practice, suspended indefinitely for an undisclosed violation of team rules. We made numerous inquiries but this one is being played closed to the vest, at least until what they've done is brought before the player's Unity Council. We were told, however, that once that happens, and the punishments are meted out, the group will be back quickly. ... The struggles of Johnny Forzani. The receiver from Canada seemed tentative on his first day in a team setting, but that's probably to be expected. He dropped a couple passes, including one that would have been good for six in the skelly passing drill. His quickness, however, was impressive, so don't write him off.
• Let's move on to links before we start writing about how cold it was and our other whines. You don't want to hear it. ... We had our first-day coverage in the S-R, but it didn't show up this morning on the website, so here's the unedited version with some more notes and quotes. ... And that's it about Cougar football, though we will link the WSU sports information football blog from Joe Nickell, where you can find photos and video. ... ESPN.com's Ted Miller is running down the best players in the Pac-10 on his blog and, though he's more than halfway through, there hasn't been a Cougar. Not sure there will be. ... Arizona is the only Pac-10 basketball team still alive in the NCAAs – though Oregon State is carrying the conference's banner in the CBI three-game championship series. The consensus seems to be UA needs to be able to handle Louisville's pressure, and Nic Wise will play the main role in that. ... Finally, Oregon replaced women's basketball coach Bev Smith with 70-year-old Paul Westhead and gave the former Laker coach a 5-year contract. That seems to be an impressive display of optimism.
• That's it for this morning. The second day of conditioning practice starts at 3:30 this afternoon and we'll be out there. We'll post afterward. Until then …