FROM PULLMAN — Washington State's offense struggled a bit toward the end of today's practice. Then they heard about it. Then heard about it again. Read on.
Yes, things got a little sloppy — too indecisive, mostly, Mike Leach said — toward the end of WSU's team session at Martin Stadium today. That's really not much of a surprise. They call it training camp for a reason. And with as many players sitting out as the Cougars have right now, it's expected that there will be a little confusion. So while it was nothing out of the ordinary, it was still noteworthy because it was the first time we've really seen Leach become animated. A couple of different times. The first came after Marquess Wilson had a pass broken up from behind by freshman cornerback Ray Ford on a ball that Wilson usually catches. Leach gathered the offense together, shouted some choice instruction at them, then resumed the 11-on-11 action. After a couple of busted plays, Leach separated the offense from the defense, spent a few minutes telling the offense what he thought of their effort and execution, then stood watch as each player from that unit performed 30 up-downs each. Then, the players shifted to a field-goal kicking drill and appeared to execute much crisper.
… So what was the problem? “We didn’t come out ready to play. The last 15 plays we weren’t ready to play, and right now we’re a team that loses our concentration when we get tired and so basically we’ve got to work through that and drill and develop the skill to do that,” Leach said. “Overall, a decent practice, but all of a sudden your number’s called and it’s time to rise up and respond, you better be there ready to do it rather than a bunch of indecision and we’ve just got to do a better job of impressing the point on those guys to be ready to tee it up. We’ve got to be tougher when we’re tired.”
Everyone does, it turns out.
“I think we dropped more balls than we probably should. And then I think we’re inconsistent up front. We’re getting to the point where we’re doing a lot of good things and then we’ll make some of the mistakes multiple times in a row,” Leach said. “Really just not a lot of tempo up there, just indecisive. Go up there and run a play. It’s the same as it is on the screen as in the walk through, if it’s half speed, if it’s full speed, if it’s 7-on-7, and now the dynamics are going to change beacuse you’re tired? Well that’s not good enough.
“But I’ve never been a part of a camp, and I don’t know anybody that doesn’t work on and address effort at some point in time. Today’s our day. And if we need to address it tomorrow we will, because you’re not going to be very good unless you have great effort. All the fancy little plays in the world don’t mean anything unless you have great effort.”
… As a result of the dropped balls Leach mentioned, all of the receivers stayed for quite a while after practice tossing passes back and forth to each other from very close range. … Before the breakdowns that raised Leach's ire, Connor Halliday looked fairly sharp in 7-on-7 and the first portion of team session, the highlight being his long touchdown pass down the sideline to Isiah Myers. … The first-team offensive line featured John Fullington, Matt Goetz, Elliott Bosch, Jake Rodgers and Dan Spitz. Wade Jacobson rotated in, as well.
… With Toni Pole and Xavier Cooper each watching team session without pads, Ioane Gauta and Steven Hoffart worked out with the first-team offensive line. … Justin Sagote saw more time at WIL linebacker, and Cyrus Coen played a bit with the first-team defense at LB after Eric Oertel was pulled following a communication error. … Logan Mayes took a couple of snaps with the first-team defense at buck linebacker. … S Anthony Carpenter was seen leaving the field with a member of the training staff, so Tyree Toomer stepped back in with the starting unit. … With Dominique Williams (left hand) and Kristoff Williams both unavailable, Gabe Marks saw plenty of time with the starting offense and had a couple of nice grabs.
… Earlier in practice, the quarterbacks participated in a drill where Leach placed a trash can in the back corner of the end zone, and each quarterback tried to toss a fade-type pass near the bucket. The goal wasn't to land it in there, necessarily. It was more important for each quarterback to practice putting air under the ball. Halliday was the first to land the ball inside the can, though Austin Apodaca hit it a handful of times.
… Practice concluded with Andrew Furney connecting on field goals of 37, 42, 48 and 52 yards, followed by Mike Bowlin and the second-team special teams units taking a crack at it. Bowlin wasn't as accurate, though he had the leg to make a 57-yarder that missed wide right.
… Asked Leach about a Cougfan.com report that OL Rico Forbes has suffered a serious knee injury and could miss the season. Leach went with his standard response: “As you’re aware we don’t have any injuries here, so what you’re describing is impossible.” Forbes, of course, is still on crutches.
… Among those missing today — and by missing, we mean not wearing pads or limited: WR Kristoff Williams, RB Teondray Caldwell, DE Adam Coerper, OL Niu Sale, WR Dominique Williams, DT Kalafitoni Pole, DL Destiny Vaeao, DL Xavier Cooper, S Anthony Carpenter. LB Darren Markle limped off the field with an apparent injury to his left foot or ankle.
All for now.