FROM PULLMAN — Washington State held its usual short Sunday night practice, but that didn't mean there wasn't news. Read on.
Yes, senior offensive lineman Dan Spitz was back at practice, and took some snaps at right tackle with the second-team offensive line.
Coach Mike Leach has said previously that Spitz was dealing with a “personal issue,” and offensive line coach Clay McGuire had termed it a “class issue” the week following the Eastern Washington game.
Regardless, Spitz is back now, and will be dressed and available this week against Oregon, McGuire said.
“Obviously, he’s going to have a little rust on him, but he’s fine, and scheme (doesn't) change so he’s just got to come out here, get ready to go. Pad level and little things like that is going to be an issue for him, but he’ll be fine after a day or so.”
What does he have to do to get back in the starting lineup? Redshirt freshman Gunnar Eklund has played well at left tackle with Spitz out (Spitz was at right guard, but his absence meant moving Jake Rodgers from left to right guard, and John Fullington from left tackle to left guard).
“We’ll see,” McGuire said. “If he comes out and he’s better than one of the other guys, then we’ll play him. Gunnar’s kind of proven himself over the last two weeks, has played well at times, so there’s no need to just yank him for no reason right now.”
Spitz's return comes at a good time for WSU, as starting right tackle Wade Jacobson left Saturday's game with an apparent injury. He didn't participate in practice today, but did some conditioning on Rogers Field.
Matt Goetz replaced Jacobson in the lineup, playing right guard with Rodgers moving out to right tackle.
“Jake Rodgers and Goetz did a nice job,” McGuire said. “Jake has played pretty much every position this year and has done a nice job adjusting to that. Goetz came in and was pretty solid. Did a really good job for us up front. As a unit we were OK. There’s a lot of things, considering what they were doing to us, we should have been a lot better. It’s a work in progress, but I felt we took a little step back a little bit this week from where we were at UNLV. We definitely need to come out and have great week of practice and be ready to play this game we’re playing.”
A step back?
“It wasn’t any schematic thing, change of guys here or there, nothing like that,” McGuire said. “At times I think we’re trying to do too much and be too perfect. These guys just need to be able to cut it loose and play and relax and know what they’re doing, play fast as opposed to trying to be perfect all the time.”
In other news … Leach said Connor Halliday will “probably” start at quarterback this week against Oregon. Halliday and Tuel shared reps on Sunday, but Halliday appeared to get the bulk of them with the No. 1 offense. … DL Destiny Vaeao participated fully — he'd been wearing a boot recently — after not playing on Saturday. … OL Rico Forbes was present and spent the night on the exercise bike.