Late this week, Washington State coach Paul Wulff decided to turn the early Saturday workout into a scrimmage. He must have known the offense was ready. Because it didn't matter whether it was the ones or twos, in this one the Cougar offense won the day. Read on for more.
• Before we go any further into the story of this scrimmage, we want to try to describe the play of the morning. For the first time this fall, the Cougars split into two groups, ones were on the home side of Martin Stadium, the twos were on the visitors. And the twos were carrying a grudge. The one offense started at its 30 and went nowhere in two possessions. Now it was the two offense's turn. One first down and Carl Winston run brought the ball to the defense's 44. Marshall Lobbestael took a snap, looked up, and rifled a quick in to Marquess Wilson. Three defenders had him boxed in, with Mike Ledgerwood closest. Wilson jabbed inside then literally jumped to the outside. Ledgerwood whiffed. Myron Beck and Nolan Washington got a touch but nothing more. Boom, Wilson was free and the left sideline was open. It was as impressive a move as I've seen a wide receiver make here and it impressed his teammates just as much. You can see the video of the catch and run here. But as catches go, his 36-yarder later was even better. Nolan Washington was riding him all the way down the left sideline, but the 6-foot-3, 183-pound Wilson was able overcome the contact and gather in Lobbestael's on-target throw. The freshman had five catches for 110 yards, accounting for more than a third of the WSU's 298 yards of total offense in a 48-play scrimmage. ... We have more in the story below.
• Here are the 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).
• Here is the unedited version of our story that will appear in tomorrow's S-R ...
PULLMAN – Up until about 48 hours ago, the Washington State University Cougars were not going to scrimmage this weekend. Two practices were scheduled for Saturday – the last of the two-a-days – but, with school starting Monday, this weekend was for fine-tuning.
Then coach Paul Wulff watched practice last week and made a change.
"We just felt it was time to scrimmage and tackle," he said Saturday morning after the Cougars had finished a 48-play, 45-minute scrimmage in Martin Stadium. "We've gone a while without tackling live but ... it was time to get some quality reps in."
The need to work on tackling was evident whenever Marquess Wilson touched the ball.
The freshman wide receiver, working with the second offense, was the star of the show, catching five Mashall Lobbestael passes for 110 yards.
It was his second reception that showed the elusiveness of the 6-foot-3, 173-pounder – and highlighted the need to shore up the tackling.
On a third-and-4 from the No. 1 defense's 44-yard line, Wilson caught a 10-yard pass from Lobbestael in a pocket surrounded by three defenders. The closest, middle linebacker Mike Ledgerwood, closed quickly but lowered his head while delivering a blow. It never landed.
Wilson, who jabbed inside, jumped outside and Ledgerwood whiffed. A couple of others touched the receiver, but that was it. Free, the sideline beckoned and Wilson raced down it for a score.
"I just did a little rip move, went in and went out," the soft-spoken Wilson said, "knowing that I had to get back outside, up the field like (receivers) coach (Mike) Levy (Levenseller) teaches us."
"Any time you can throw it short and have them run long, that's what you want," said Lobbestael, who was 7 of 9 for 119 yards and the one score.
Wilson had one other big reception, and there were no yards after catch on this one. Running a go pattern down the left sideline, he battled Nolan Washington the entire way before getting separation and gathering in the well-thrown ball.
For the first time this season, the Cougars were divided into ones and twos on both sides of the ball, with the second group taking the visiting sideline.
The game atmosphere was evident from the beginning, when a fired up second defense stuffed the first offense two consecutive possessions.
"Starting fast is one of the things we really want to do, especially coming Sept. 4," said backup linebacker Arthur Burns, referring to the opener at Oklahoma State in less than two weeks. "Come out with some intensity and good things will definitely happen, because we have talent."
But Jeff Tuel and his group got going soon, scoring twice, including a 10-play, 70-yard drive, climaxed by Tuel finding Daniel Blackledge alone in the end zone from 4 yards out.
Tuel later teamed with Jeffrey Solomon on a 28-yard deep post for another score and finished 8 of 14 for 104 yards.
"It kills you a little bit on the inside," Burns said of watching the offense shine. "But you have to be happy for them, because they're doing what they have to do, make things happen out there. Marquess obviously did it today."
• That's all for now. We'll be back after the afternoon practice with some more notes and another story. Until then ...