FROM PULLMAN — And the reason we asked running backs coach Jim Mastro to talk about his running backs is because, well, there may be fewer of them at the Cougars' disposal come Saturday. Read on.
WSU's stable of running backs might be a little thinner this week. Carl Winston and Leon Brooks were each limited in practice today, with Winston sporting a right-knee wrap and Brooks spending practice working in the sand pit with strength coach Jason Loscalzo. Mastro said afterward that because the status of those players remains unknown, Marcus Mason will take reps this week alongside Teondray Caldwell.
Mastro said Mason has “earned the right to play” by practicing hard and playing well on special teams.
In fact, Mastro said, if his running backs played as well on offense as they did on special teams, they'd be a lot more productive.
But as it is, WSU's 2.07 yards per carry — good for 118th in the country — aren't cutting it for Mastro.
“Absolutely not,” said Mastro, asked if anyone is close to emerging as the team's primary back. “Not even close. It’s hit or miss. They’re doing some things that are dynamic and then they’re fumbling the ball. Or they’re doing some things that are dynamic and they’re missing the blitz protection. That was my whole point today, somebody take the job. Somebody be a man and step up and take this thing. Right now it’s just a bunch of guys that have talent and have a chance, as you see when you watch the game. We need consistency out of that position, all the time.
“No matter how many times we run it, we need production. The problem is we get production, production, production and then a tackle for loss. You can’t have that. A bad play’s got to be a 2-yard gain. That’s got to be a bad play. You can’t have a minus-3. You just can’t have those. As little as we run it, when we do run it, you’ve got to get production out of it.”
Mastro said that in a perfect world, Caldwell wouldn't even be playing this season as a true freshman.
“What’s it called, baptism by fire? That’s what we’re doing with him,” Mastro said. “He’s just got to play. He’s dynamic and can be an all Pac-12 running back here. He’s just got to grow up.”
Wade Jacobson took a few snaps at right tackle during some scout work, but Matt Goetz and Jake Rodgers continue to work as the starters on the right side. … Khalil Pettway and Spencer Waseem did not participate in practice. Blair Bomber was limited again and spent time on the side doing conditioning work, along with Mansel Simmons. … Kristoff Williams is looking more and more like he might be a part of WSU's regular receiver rotation in the near future, taking some snaps with the No. 1 offense during team session. … Mike Leach got after the offense a little bit after Connor Halliday threw an interception to David Bucannon during scout work.