FROM PULLMAN — Instead of a clever lead-in to today's post, we're just going to pass along Mike Leach's statement today when asked about the health of Connor Halliday.
“Any stuff on that is so closely guarded. I don’t know if you saw Harry Potter, but in the basement of this building, it’s guarded by serpents and wild dogs and things like that, and you can go try to find the secret to that, but chances of survival — always a risk. Heck, it took until movie five before he got it done himself and he had magic powers. Anyway, he’s doing just fine and we’re excited about him.”
OK, then. Read on for more notes from Thursday's practice.
The biggest story from tonight's practice, and we wrote about it for the newspaper, was simply how physical things were. The most notable altercation was linebacker Chester Su'a taking a swing at offensive lineman Gunnar Eklund during team session. There were a handful of other scrums, too, the result of a whole lot more contact than we've seen this spring. It's no wonder quarterback Jeff Tuel called it the team's best practice afterward — he got to watch everything without having to stick his chin into the fire. “There’ll be a time as you get through camp you settle that stuff down but the tempo, I can look past that since we had really good tempo today,” Leach said. “Defense is running a lot of stuff and doing a lot of good things.” … More Leach: “We’re explosive, we’re getting better at executing, still fighting consistency and you always do, and we’re getting a little more consistent,” Leach said. “I thought it was more intense. I thought that was good on all sides, really.” … Intense is a good word for it. You could tell that from the start, too, during the one-on-one battles with which the Cougars have become accustomed to start practice (it's as simple as it sounds — two players line up facing each other, the rest of the team forming a circle around them, and just go at it until someone gets knocked to the ground). Couldn't really see the numbers of the players participating, but there was just a lot more yelling and screaming and cries of “kick his (rear)!” than we've heard yet this spring. After that drill concluded, Su'a enthusiastically bounded over to the next station, hooting and hollering all the while. Maybe that should have been a sign of things to come. … Su'a really stood out today, and not just because he tried to fight a lineman. He flattened Marcus Mason on a running play near the goal line during team session, and just generally seemed to be near the ball on every play. He was acknowledged by the coaches afterward for having the best day of the linebackers. … Eric Oertel concluded practice by combining with Darryl Monroe to stuff a ballcarrier behind the line of scrimmage. … The offense got its licks in, too. Outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons said afterward that he was pleased with how physical — there's that word again — the receivers were in run blocking, citing Kristoff Williams by name as someone who had a solid day. Indeed, Williams made one of the best blocks of the afternoon, springing Carl Winston for what wound up being a 30-or-so-yard run for a touchdown. … With Matt Goetz riding an exercise bike for most of practice, there was some shuffling on the offensive line. Some combinations I saw, from left to right — John Fullington, Gunnar Eklund, Elliott Bosch, Dan Spitz, Rico Forbes … and (second unit) Zach Johnson, Chas Sampson, Taylor Meighen, Jake Rodgers, Rico Forbes. … Teondray Caldwell destroyed a defender with a stiff-arm, but I didn't catch the number. … Casey Locker put a big hit on Bobby Ratliff on a pass over the middle, though Ratliff held onto the ball, then received loud praise from Eric Morris later in practice when he snagged a pass on a slant route that was thrown behind him and turned it into a gain of 10-plus yards. … Winston got in the face of defensive end Travis Long before a bunch of players got in between them. Bit of a mismatch there. … Max Hersey ran over Deone Bucannon in the open field after catching a pass, then tried to stand over him and talk smack — but he'd knocked Bucannon so far backward that it kind of lost its effect. … Toni Pole and Steven Hoffart each made big hits as they blew up a screen pass and a shovel pass in the backfield, respectively. … As practice was winding down, a bunch of receivers and defensive backs went through a punt-block drill, where they had to sprint in from an angle and get their hands on a tether ball hanging from the goal post. It was interesting to watch, and, not surprisingly, Bennett Bontemps seemed to have an affinity for it (you happy, Vince?). … Limited players included: S Tyree Toomer, OL David Goetz, CB Nolan Washington, RB Rickey Galvin, QB Connor Halliday, CB Spencer Waseem, CB Brandon Golden, S Max Gama, DE Adam Coerper, OL Wade Jacobson, OL Joe Dahl. I didn't see DE Hamza Griffin, CB Travion Smith or LB Darryl Paulo at practice. Each has been limited by injury (presumably) this spring. Galvin did some light drills after sitting out the last two practices. Halliday did a bit of throwing, but again nothing during team session.
That's all for now.