Washington State returned to the practice field Tuesday for bye week work, and there were a few less Cougars than expected. We cover the practice and coach Paul Wulff's press conference, so read on.
• We'll start with practice, which was highlighted by one fun play, a play we will save until the end. ... Quarterback Jeff Tuel, wearing his jersey, shorts and a helmet, threw in all the individual drills and seemed no worse for wear. In case you haven't been on the Internet in a while, Tuel is healing from a fractured left clavicle. ... There was one big change on the offensive line, with junior college transfer Matt Goetz, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound sophomore, running with the ones at center. Last week's starter, Taylor Meighen, was back with the twos after grading out poorly for his performance Saturday. Usual starter Andrew Roxas was still limping badly from his sprained ankle, so Goetz, usually a right guard, was given the opportunity. Though I'm no expert on blocking assignments, his snaps were perfect throughout practice. ... There were quite a few players missing, including linebacker Sekope Kaufusi, sidelined by what looked to be a sprained right thumb. Running back Rickey Galvin also was not suited up after getting dinged up during the game. Punt returner Leon Brooks (pink eye) and nickel back Casey Locker (infection) were not at practice, though both are expected back tomorrow. ... Some guys, like Gino Simone and Anthony Laurenzi, practiced for a while but shut it down early to rest dings. ... Wulff talked about changing up the end of practice in his Sunday night press conference and he did. Just before the units did their final team drills, he called everyone together and gave them a fiery speech about finishing games in the fourth quarter. Winning in the final quarter is something that is built by finishing practices well, he reminded them. So it was time to do just that. And then the Cougars went out with a drill they call banzai, in which the ball is placed at certain place on the field regardless of success or failure of the previous play. One play finished, everyone sprints to the next spot and another play is run. It's a drill usually reserved for the first part of practice to get the energy level up. ... Just prior to that, during a scrimmage, there was a play that broke any tension and broke everyone up. A Connor Halliday screen pass intended for a wide receiver bounced off the receiver's hands and into the air. Before it could hit the ground, though, two big paws belonging to offensive lineman Chas Sampson snatched it out of the air. Sampson turned around and rumbled – and that's the right word – down the left sideline for a score, the other offensive linemen jumping and cheering on the sidelines. As a big celebration exploded down the field, just about everyone was smiling or chuckling about a 6-4, 303-pound lineman doing his best running back imitation. ... Wulff talked with the Pac-12 media earlier in the day and said little new. Much of the items he discussed revealed themselves at practice, things like Tuel and the late practice change. He did say that new paperwork had been submitted in regards to Rahmel Dockery and he hoped for some advancement in the process this week. Also, Wulff said he doesn't expect to see a back this season that's better than Ronnie Hillman. ... Finally, we put together our Pac-12 notebook and you can read the early version.
• That's it for tonight. We'll be back in the morning. Until then. ...