The first of two practices today has ended and we have some notes about what occurred out at Rogers Field. Read on.
• Coach Paul Wulff said the first practice would feature more emphasis on the running game and he wasn't lying. The Cougars started off with an Oklahoma drill – one offensive lineman lined up vs. a defender, trying to clear a path for a running back between two pads – that featured some interesting individual battles. The best of those were between center Zack Williams and tackle Anthony Laurenzi. Both players have a knack of getting under the skin of their opponents, so it was little wonder their two go-rounds were physical. Laurenzi dominated the first one, shedding Williams and making a crunching tackle. The second was a draw, with the running back getting by, thus a win for Williams. The biggest hit came from Kevin Kooyman who threw David Gonzales aside. Another defender who won his battle was freshman tackle Kalafitoni Pole, who continues to impress. ... Speaking of tackles, Brandon Rankin and Bernard Wolfgramm sat out drills again, giving Laurenzi, Pole and Steven Hoffart more opportunities to show what they can do. All in all, they took advantage of them. In one 9-on-11 drill (two defensive linemen do not rush), the defense earned a coverage sack with Pole getting a hand on Jeff Tuel. ... Alex Hoffman-Ellis returned to the field and went full bore all morning. ... The Cougars scrimmaged the final 25 minutes of the hour and 20 minute practice, with the offense getting the better of it. In the first 1 vs. 1 matchup, Tuel connected with Daniel Blackledge for 13 yards and Chantz Staden for another 7. The defense stiffened, however, and Tyree Toomer knocked down a third-down pass intended for Gino Simone. ... The 2 vs. 2 scrimmage started with a Marshall Lobbestael 14-yard connection to Isiah Barton, but then stalled when Casey Hamlett stacked up Carl Winston on third-and-2. ... The ones came back on for three plays, the last of which was Kevin Kooyman sacking Tuel. ... The practice ended with goal line scrimmaging (the ball started at the 5). In 1 vs. 1, James Montgomery scored on the first play, bouncing off right tackle and into the end zone. In 2 vs. 2, the defense held until fourth down when Winston outran Eric Oertel around the left end for a 1-yard score. The ones returned and Logwone Mitz took two plays to find the end zone.
• That's all for now. We'll be back after the second practice – that will start at 3:30 and WSU will be in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts ...