FROM PULLMAN — There was plenty to observe during practice, which meant there was also plenty to talk about afterward. So let's get right to it. Read on.
Jeff Tuel downgraded from a large brace on his right leg to a smaller, wrap-like brace on his right leg. He jogged onto the field when practice started and did some throwing during drills, but once 7-on-7 and scout work rolled around, it was Connor Halliday taking the majority of the snaps with David Gilbertson taking the rest. Tuel watched, as he did yesterday.
Coach Mike Leach said he thought Halliday threw the ball pretty well. The sophomore completed long touchdown passes to Marquess Wilson and Gabe Marks during scout work, and showed his usual willingness to throw the ball downfield.
“Steady improvement, thought he did good,” Leach said. “Thought he’s operated good, operated quick and thought he’s done a lot of really good things from the neck up. He’s a guy that’s really taken advantage of his time in the film room and practice even though he’s started out with not as many reps.”
Deone Bucannon didn't work out with the first-team defense today, as the Cougars prepare to play the first half without him on Friday. Bucannon's suspension means more time for Tyree Toomer and Casey Locker, who hasn't played this season but should be a factor on Friday against a run-heavy UNLV team.
“I think the big thing Casey’s been working hard on is his pass coverage,” defensive coordinator Mike Breske said. “He’s a tough guy, he’s a physical football player, he’s a tough tackler. This football team we’re playing in UNLV gives us a lot of heavy sets, 12 personnel, 22 … run the ball very effectively. This game probably matches up much better for Casey than an Eastern Washington that’s throwing the ball all over the field.”
As for Bucannon's suspension, Leach said he has no problem with it.
“First of all I think we’re wrong, I think it was a bad hitm” Leach said. “I don’t really have any reaction. I can see the point of view. It was a late hit and I can see where action was justified. We shouldn’t have done it. We addressed it Sunday so it’s over from here, but the Pac-12’s reaction doesn’t surprise me and it’s our fault. All that’s our fault.”
Said Breske: “It is what it is. I think it’s an accurate call by the Pac-12 office. He’s out the first half, realizes what he did wrong and he can’t do that again. We can’t afford to lose anybody for a half, be it Deone or anyone else. He’s going to sit for two quarters and be a coach from the sideline.
“It was a lot of steps before he hit him and that wasn’t called for, and we talked about that and coach Leach has visited with the whole team about that how we’ve got to use common sense and it was a dumb penalty.”
Notes … Dan Spitz wasn't at practice again. Clay McGuire said yesterday that Spitz's absence was due to a class conflict. Gunnar Eklund filled in at left tackle again with John Fullington moving inside. … WSU showed a speed/dime package that featured Eric Oertel and Cyrus Coen on the field at the same time, as well as Logan Mayes and Travis Long.