FROM PULLMAN — Tuesday's practice involved a bullhorn and a whole lot of up-downs. Read on.
The bullhorn was all part of Mike Leach's desire to let his players know what the score was. Yes, there was a score being kept. Each time the offense netted a positive play — it's unclear what the exact paramaters were — a graduate assistant would yell into the bullhorn, “one point, offense,” or “two points, offense,” if it was a particularly good play, such as the pass Connor Halliday threw to Rickey Galvin that went for a long gain down the right sidelines thanks to a block from Teondray Caldwell. The defense got points when it stopped the offense for short gains, sacked the quarterback or stuffed a ball carrier. That happened more than once, such as when Xavier Cooper dropped Robert Lewis in the backfield on a very slow-developing reverse, or when Ioane Gauta busted through the line to crush Theron West.
“We already score little stuff,” Leach said. “We already score periods and sum it up at the end and it’s kind of a work in progress. Just to try to do it each play and then tabulate it and let them know what the score is as we go. I don’t know if we’ll do it again or not. We messed with it today.”
The offense won during the first trip down the field, then won again on the second. But the defense held serve on the final session of practice, with two rushing attempts going nowhere inside the red zone. The offense was made to do up-downs after that one.
Play was again chippy, with a few skirmishes breaking out here and there. First, there was Caldwell getting tangled up with a defender in the end zone, a fracas that attracted the attention of a few other teammates. One of them was Rico Forbes, who bodied a defender to the ground before the scrum was broken up and everyone went about their business. Later, Bennett Bontemps went after Gauta after being tackled. And when Cooper thumped Lewis in the backfield, he kept shoving him into the ground as he tried to get up, which resulted in another brouhaha and a couple of swings between Gunnar Eklund and Kache Palacio.
Leach said he has no problem with the feistiness, so long as it doesn't cut into WSU's practice time.
“If they waste a bunch of time, then of course I’m going to put them in the middle and make them fight each other at the end of practice and things of that nature,” Leach said. “If they can get their business taken care of pretty quick we’ll put up with a little of it for a little while. I don’t want to curb enthusiasm but at some point in the midst of that they have to have good, focused work habits. I didn’t mind the spirit of the thing, I don’t mind them popping each other a little bit, but if it’s some sustained deal where we have to stop play, well, they’re going to be running and everyone else is going to be playing.”
… Connor Halliday played particularly well during 7-on-7s, and threw some nice passes — an on-target slant to Bobby Ratliff stands out, as does a touchdown pass to Dominique Williams — during team session, too. But he also threw an interception that Jared Byers probably would have returned for a touchdown if the play had continued.
Leach said he's seen good things out of both Halliday and Austin Apodaca, who later threw a touchdown pass to Rickey Galvin that Galvin made a nice play on.
“I think they’ve both been good. I think they’ve boyth played well,” Leach said. “I think Austin didn’t get any real reps with the first group last year, and he’s done a good job picking things up, but he’s still kind of learning stuff. Connor’s gotten better and better in his leadership role and he throws the ball real well.”
… As we tweeted earlier, receiver Henry Eaddy is no longer on the roster and has left the program. It's not all that surprising of a move, considering how far down on the depth chart he was and how difficult it would have been to work his way back up.
… Deone Bucannon was limited today after returning to practice on Saturday. Also limited were Conner Johnson, Feddie Davey, Alex Jackson, Chester Su'a, Jake Rodgers, Logan Mayes and Robert Barber, and Mansel Simmons was again absent. … Not sure if Darryl Monroe is limited physically — they don't tell us those things — but I didn't see him participate in the full-contact team session. Jared Byers saw most of the time at the MIKE linebacker spot.
… Jake Dahl continues to take all of the reps at left guard with the No. 1 offensive line, while John Fullington continues to work with the No. 2 group. Dahl, by the way, is every bit of the 6-foot-4 and 289 pounds he's listed at. He's a big dude.
… Andrew Furney made four of his five field-goal attempts during the first 20 minutes of practice. Mike Bowlin connected on two of the three that I saw.