FROM PULLMAN — It was a very business-like day at Rogers Field, with the Cougars getting back into practice mode after a summer of workouts some described as the hardest of their lives. We have some notes for you after the jump.
Mike Leach had moments of frustration during the spring, sure. But for the most part, he seemed pleased with WSU's progress whenever he was asked. And again today, Leach said he thought it was obvious that his players had put in work over the summer — not just in terms of getting in shape, which Leach thought they did, but in terms of studying their “playbooks” (it's mostly on video) and coming to this first practice with a better understanding of where they're supposed to be on the field. “As far as our knowledge of offense and defense, I thought it was pretty high right now, and so what that tells me is we had a pretty productive summer. And it’s a good starting point, but it’s a total starting point,” Leach said. … This coaching staff's praise for Andrei Lintz during the spring raised a few eyebrows, but if today was any indication, they might be on to something. Lintz was dominant in 1-on-1 passing drills, and made a handful of tough catches throughout practice. … Nolan Washington was probably the most noticeable of the defensive standouts, as he twice intercepted Jeff Tuel during the 11-on-11 team session. Though he may have been at an advantage. As Tuel said afterward, the offense was drilling pretty much the same play the entire time to make it a littler harder on themselves, and as a result, the defense was able to cheat a bit. That exercise, Tuel said, was designed to make the quarterbacks find their check-down options. … Something that wasn't at practice today: exercise bikes. Meaning the Cougars are doing pretty well, health-wise. “We're trying to keep it that way,” linebacker Eric Oertel said. Chester Su'a, Darryl Monroe, Tyree Toomer and Casey Locker, for example, were all full participants after missing time at the end of spring. … There were a few players absent, such as CB Spencer Waseem, DT Justin Clayton and WR Henry Eaddy, as well as incoming freshman WR Alex Jackson. No official reason was given for their absence, though Waseem, Clayton and Eaddy were all limited when spring ended. … Incoming freshman LB/DE Jacob Tuivaiave isn't on the roster and wasn't at practice. Defensive line coach Joe Salave'a said he still has some things to clear up. … As far as newcomers who might add depth at that position, I asked Salave'a about JC transfer Ioane Gauta, who certainly looks the part, physically. Here's what he said: “Part of that is he’s a big body that we need in the middle and he’s going to get a chance to learn our defense a little bit, and hopefully he can pick up some of these things along the way. We’ve got a couple weeks. Today’s his first day but just seeing him running around, it’s hard to imagine a big-body guy this nimble on his feet and that’s the enticing thing about Junior. Big guy that can run around and still be firm in the middle.” … During the team session, WSU's starting offensive line was as follows, from left to right: John Fullington, Wade Jacobson, Elliott Bosch, Dan Spitz, Rico Forbes. Other combinations used included: Gunnar Eklund, Matt Goetz, Taylor Meighen, Niu Sale and Jake Rodgers; and: Eklund, Chas Sampson, Goetz, Sale and Forbes. … The first-team defense appeared as expected, with Matthew Bock, Toni Pole and Xavier Cooper up front, Travis Long, Monroe, Su'a and Oertel at linebacker, Daniel Simmons and Damante Horton at the corners (with Washington working there some, as well) and Toomer and Deone Bucannon at safety. … The newcomers did some extra work after the main practice ended, and Leach said he thought their understanding of the plays he was calling was at a higher level than he expected. Admittedly, it was tough to see much during that portion of practice because we were conducting interviews, but I did see Taylor Taliulu snag an interception toward the end.
OK. All for now. We'll have some video up a little later of Wade Jacobson talking about how he's feeling after missing last season and earning a medical redshirt.