Washington State's first scrimmage of the spring – last Saturday the Cougars scrimmaged but only for about 40 percent of practice; this week it was all they did after warming up – was held in spring-like weather. And by that I mean it was sunny at times, it rained at times, it hailed at times and the wind blew all the time. But there was some interesting stuff going on, so read on.
• The star of the day was Rickey Galvin, and not just for his 54-yard scoring run early on. No, Galvin was just as good on his 4-yard runs as he was on the long one. The 5-foot-8, 160-pound redshirt freshman back gets low and burrows his way for extra yards, just as he did in his second touchdown run. When I asked Paul Wulff about him, he praised Galvin (9 carries for 77 yards) but also went out of his was to single out Logwone Mitz (3 for 8) and Carl Winston (7 for 39) as having good springs. Each bring a different dynamic to the backfield but none are as quick or elusive as Galvin. … With Jared Karstetter and Bobby Ratliff sitting due to sprained ankles, the receiving corps should have been a little thinner, right? Well, 12 guys caught passes, nine of them wide outs (Winston, Mitz and tight end Aaron Dunn each had one catch). Gino Simone and Isiah Myers had the circus catches, Simone's a one-hander over the middle the best of the bunch. But there is a bunch of guys here who can play. … The defense had some problems early – Chris Ball thought Galvin's long run was partly a result of a poor call on his part on a short-yardage play – but rallied back, coming up with three sacks, all due to strong coverage in the secondary. A big part of the defense problems can be traced back to injuries suffered by Travis Long, Brandon Rankin and Jordan Pu'u Robinson, the first two for sure starters, the last one a possible starter. … The field goal kickers struggled a bit in the windy conditions, with walk-on Zack Sampson missing a 51-yard attempt wide left (it was long enough) and presumptive starter Andrew Furney missing wide right from 49 yards. But at the end of the scrimmage Furney connected from 42 and 47 before coming up short from 52. … That's it for now. Here's the unedited version of our story. …
PULLMAN – There was something a bit different about Washington State's first scrimmage of the spring Saturday.
It wasn't the weather, which ranged from bright sunshine to rain showers to pelting hail. No, that's typical. It wasn't the crowd, which was slim, as is usually the case when the weather is so volatile. It wasn't even the format, which matched starters vs. starters and backups vs. backups in the hour-long, 83-play workout in Martin Stadium.
No, it was the blur that was Rickey Galvin.
The 5-foot-8, 162-pound redshirt freshman, recovered from last fall's broken arm, announced his presence in the No. 1 offense's second possession.
He exploded through a gap on the right side, juked his way past a handful of defenders, than outran a couple more before forcing his way through a tackle and into the endzone.
“I had a great view of that, I was chasing him,” said quarterback Jeff Tuel, who complemented the rushing attack with 13 of 19 passing for 112 yards, including a 25-yard score to Isiah Barton in a red-zone drive.
Galvin's 54-yard run was one of three touchdowns the offense scored when faced with a full field, the first coming on Marshall Lobbestael's 75-yard hookup with Bennett Bontemps on the second unit's first play.
Add in the two other times the offense found paydirt in 25-yard red-zone scenarios – including one in which Galvin carried all five plays, including a 3-yard power scoring run – and it was a good day to be wearing crimson.
“We've been doing it all spring,” coach Paul Wulff said of the offense. “We've got more players to work with, more veteran players. Like anything else, the more you do it, the more comfortable you get, the better you get.”
The offense had 448 yards, though 129 of them came on the two big plays. After Galvin's run (he finished with 77 yards on nine carries), the defense stiffened, only really yielding one long scoring drive, that coming from the No. 2 offense.
Lobbestael directed the backup group 70 yards on 10 plays, the last one his pass for 13 yards over the middle to Blair Bomber.
The senior, battling Connor Halliday for the spot as Tuel's backup, finished 9 of 13 for 160 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. Halliday, the redshirt freshman from Spokane, was 4 of 13 for 21 yards, looking as if the wet, windy conditions affected his passes.
Marquis Wilson picked up where he ended last season, catching six balls for 41 yards, a total freshmen-to-be Isiah Myers (4 for 44) and Henry Eaddy (5 for 43) each exceeded. Receivers Jared Karstetter and Bobby Ratliff set out with ankle sprains, but WSU still had 12 players catch passes.
“I keep telling people I think we have one of the best receiving corps in the conference, just depth wise,” Tuel said.
The defense had its moments as well, forcing a three-and-out on the first possession and back-to-back ones following Galvin's run. Aire Justin also came up with a pick in the back of the endzone in one of the red-zone sets.
“After (Galvin's long run) we got the defense together and said, 'look, we're not going to start off like this and come out with poor energy just because it's cold and the weather's disgusting,' ” said linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis, who had the best hit of the day when he met Galvin in a hole on a draw play. “So we picked it up and got after it.”
“What I like about this group is the body language didn't get bad,” said defensive coordinator Chris Ball. “They fought back and played pretty good from then on out.”
The defense started in nickel to combat the offense's four-wide sets, played some base 4-3 and finished in a 3-3-5 set Ball said was put in only this week.
“We threw a lot at them with a bunch of different personnel groupings,” Ball said. “We're a little banged up in the d-line, we have three starters out, so the 30 (the 3-3-5 set) is good to go to.”
But there was little the defense could do at times with Galvin, who, on one 17-yard run, made at least three defenders miss, one in the hole at the line of scrimmage.
“Little Rick, it's funny to put it like this but he's deceptively fast,” Hoffman-Ellis said. “As a little guy you would think, of course he's fast. When you're going up to tackle him, he gets in an extra gear.
“I'm really excited to see what he can do this year.”
WSU returns to the practice field Tuesday in Pullman and will scrimmage again next Saturday at Martin Stadium. The final spring scrimmage is scheduled for April 16 at Spokane's Albi Stadium.
• There are also a few videos from the post-game, courtesy of the WSU athletic video department. …
• And some highlights …
• That's it for now. Until later …