Washington State's last full-pad practice of the week Wednesday seemed to engender a bit more intensity out of the coaching staff. There was a reason for that. Read on.
• The reason was simple. The coaches were taking up some slack. They were trying to increase the intensity level from the players. There wasn't as much from the Cougars throughout the workout as they would have liked. That's not to say the work didn't get done. It did. Individual work, scout work, team work. As coach Paul Wulff said afterward, they made strides and he's sure they will be ready for Saturday. But the players' intensity didn't match expectations and that shortcoming was communicated more than once throughout practice. … One guy who showed intensity today, and has showed it on a much-more-often basis this season, was C.J. Mizell. Here's an example. The defense matched up with the offensive backups, who simulate the Aztec attack. Before it got started, Mizell, the middle linebacker, was wandering among the front seven, talking to each individual player, firing them up. Then he went out and, and with the help of a d-line that kept him clean, filled holes and made tackles. If there is a player on this team who has traveled farther in the past year than Mizell, I don't know who it is. … The defense was without Toni Pole, who rode the bike for mile after mile before observing the scout work, while the offense had Andrew Roxas in full pads (ankle) for a few minutes (the first pad work he's had this week), though only for a few minutes as he sat out the rest of the day. Pole (knee) was walking without a limp and looks like he should be back for Saturday. The same can be said of Roxas, who made some progress today. … It was a scheduled day off for Jordan Pu'u Robinson, who is still taking it slow with his surgically repaired knee. … The play of the day was turned in by receiver Marquess Wilson, who beat double coverage from cornerback Brandon Golden and safety Tyrone Duckett to haul in – one-handed, because his right was being pinned down – Marshall Lobbestael's long toss down the left sideline. The catch earned Wilson congrats from both sides of the ball. … Our Pac-12 picks and our story on kickoff coverage is already up on the website and we pass along the links. In researching the kickoff story, I learned a lot about a rarely thought-about play – until it results in six points. Washington State special teams coordinator Dave Ungerer wants the ball kicked as close to the numbers as he can have it, but the perfect spot is between the numbers and the sideline. That doesn't leave a large margin of error. As anyone knows who has ever left a golf shot out to the right, it's all about technique, and it's no different for kickers. Andrew Furney explained to me if he goes too fast and allows his hips to come open too soon, he'll push the ball and it ends up out-of-bounds. That happened to him last Saturday. He feels he understands the technique he has to emphasize, how to identify when he's making a mistake and has fixed the problem. But it's still a tough assignment and one that takes a lot of work, which he, Alex Gauper and Tyler McNannay do in Martin Stadium while the rest of the team is on Rogers Field. Think of that the next time you wonder what the kicker does all day.
• That's all we have for tonight. We'll be back in the morning. Until then …