FROM PULLMAN -- After practicing for about an hour or so on Sunday night, Washington State naturally brought in a soccer goalpost and held a penalty-kick competition. Read on.
Practice-field happenings have been relatively light recently, and that theme continued Sunday as the Cougars went without pads for their hour-or-so workout. Connor Halliday appeared to see a few more of the snaps with the first-team offense against the scout defense than he did Saturday, though not sure how much I'd read into that given how short everything was.
Running back Teondray Caldwell and offensive lineman Taylor Meighen still aren't practicing. Otherwise, not a ton to report from the actual practice itself.
The penalty kick competition went to the offense, as receiver Marquess Wilson set an early tone by sneaking a goal past Ioane Gauta, and Gunnar Eklund added one a bit later. So Mike Leach's bye-week competitions have included dodgeball, tug-of-war, an egg toss and penalty kicks.
We spoke with defensive coordinator Mike Breske afterward. Here's some of what he had to say.
(What needs to improve this week against Stanford?) "Our run fits and our physicality. Now this is a different style run game than what we saw from Cal. It’s much more of a downhill, gap-oriented power style running attack and then play-action pass off of it. But our run fits, our physicality with our up-front people and then our eyes and feet, we’ve got to be right there in terms of our tackling. Thirty-three's (Stepfan Taylor) a great running back, great balance, patient runner. We can’t have double-digit explosives. Otherwise that clock’s just going to tick down. we’ve got to do a good job on the run."
(Is Stanford still conservative with its quarterback?) "I would say the Arizona game, very high sccoring, threw the ball all over the place, went into overtime. Then you look at the UW game and they didn’t have an offensive touchdown. It really varies from game to game to game. Last week, this past Saturday against Cal, it was 21-3, takeaways set some things up and they didn’t score again the second half. It really is how the game flows week to week to week."
(On Stanford's formations) "Lot of heavy sets. Tight ends are their most active receivers, big guys. We’ve got to be aware of where they’re at in the play-action pass."
(Is Stanford easier to prepare for than a team like Oregon?) "I wouldn’t say so because they give you so many different personnel groups and formations out of it where you have to adjust and make sure you’re gap sound. They’ll do the same plays but out of a multitude of looks. That’s what can confuse your kids and that’s what you want to try to avoid."
(Will you mix things up at corner?) "It’s a little different style, that type of deal. We’ll do a little more substitution. We’ll have at least a corner in the game. we’ll have two corners in some personnel groups and that type of deal. I thought Anthony (Carpenter) had a good game and we expect him to build on that this week."
(Do you expect him to start again?) "Right now, yes. But things could change. It depends how you practice during the week."