FROM PULLMAN — The next time Washington State players pull on their pads, they'll be inside LaVell Edwards Stadium, preparing for the most-anticipated season-opener of the modern era at WSU. On Tuesday, they went through final on-field preparations in Pullman. Some notes after the jump.
It was a pretty basic “Thursday” practice, with the usual scout work and the like, with the older players going without pads and the younger guys putting their pads on for the final scrimmage session of practice between the backups. …. Xavier Cooper, who is listed atop the depth chart at defensive tackle, is still in a walking boot and did not participate in practice. Darren Markle, Justin Clayton and Henry Eaddy are all still working out on the side, too.
In the scrimmage session, there were a couple of hits you could hear throughout Martin Stadium. The first came from safety Mitchell Peterson, who cracked down on running back Manuel Lamson on the sideline, drawing a chorus of encouraging yells from some of the veteran players who stuck around and watched from the seats next to the field. Didn't catch the number of the player who made the second hit, but it came against Theron West, who is a tough guy to nail like that.
I spoke a bit with Jeff Choate after practice about the challenge presented by Riley Nelson, a quarterback who obviously has a tendency to take off and make things happen with his feet.
“I think a lot of times what will happen is you can work some d-line games in to try to kind of hem him in a ltitle bit,” Choate said. “But a lot of times quarterbacks will escape into the boundary, and oftentimes you’ll have one of your linebackers, whether it’s your weakside linebacker or your strongside linebacker, who maybe not have anybody in his zone but he’ll have a tendency to scramble to his right, so if the quarterback starts scrambling he’ll move that way.
“But a guy like Riley, he’s going to sense that and he’ll just cut back against the grain. He has great vision. They talk about quarterbacks and downfield vision, he not only has downfield vision but he has a great innate feel for finding those creases in the d-line. Really, it starts for us up front and we have to have good balance, directional instincts and try to keep him in the pcket as much as he can. When he gets out of the pocket we’ve got to do a really good job of using the sideline and taking great angles to the ball.”
And is his tendency to scramble instead of look for something to develop downfield?
“When you look at last year, you’re probably talking about a guy who hadn’t prepared to be the starting quarterback going into camp so he didn’t get a lot of those reps. Jake Heaps was the guy taking all those reps,” Choate said. “Last year it was probably one read and go. I would expect that we’re going to see a little bit more mature quarterback, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that when the game’s on the line, he wants the ball in his hand and that’s probably the nicest thing you can say about a guy like Riley Nelson — he’s just a tremendous competitor and you look at that last drive they had against Utah State, I mean they put the ball in his hands most of the time and he delivered. So that’s what it’s all about for them.”
That's all for now. We will have plenty more for you tomorrow.