FROM LEWISTON — Another day of camp is in the books for Washington State. There were a few more highlights on the offensive side of the ball this time. Details follow.
Mike Leach is doing with his offensive package the same thing he did when he first taught it — slowly adding in more and more of it each day.
On Friday, the WSU offense ran only vertical routes, completing more than 50 percent of them. That number was to Leach's liking.
On Saturday, Leach said the offense ran about one-third of its total package, which made things a little trickier for the defense. With a little more offensive variety, the Cougars were able to move the ball decently well at times, though the defense still “won” the final team session, which resulted in a handful of up-downs for the offense.
Perhaps the play of the day was Rickey Galvin's juggling touchdown catch in the back corner of the end zone toward the end of practice, which was ruled a touchdown by a manager watching close by, though linebacker Darryl Monroe loudly disputed the call and insisted Galvin's feet didn't land in bounds.
One of Leach's biggest points of emphasis with the team afterward was simply making plays when such opportunities are presented.
“I thought both teams played better,” Leach said. “It was competitive the whole time, both sides an inch from making great plays. We’ve just got to finish those. Pretty explosive, but I thought really good tempo out there.”
Gabe Marks probably had the most productive day of any offensive player, again continuing his dominance in the 1-on-1 drill, and again exchanging words with defensive backs after a good number of his catches.
“He’s got a really good attitude, and has really since late last season,” Leach said. “He wants virtually every ball and he can’t quite figure out why we throw it to anybody else but him, and he wants every ball. Disappointed when he doesn’t get it. That’s one thing, sometimes practices drag on and somebody gets tired and they don’t want the ball anymore. Gabe always wants the ball. As many balls as we gave Gabe, which was a lot, Gabe thinks we should have given him all of them still, which is an incredible quality to have. And then with that, that being the case, he’s steadily developed his skills and just improved and improved.”
– River Cracraft continued to see quite a bit of action during 7-on-7 and team drills, as did Vince Mayle.
Of Cracraft, Leach said: “He’s ahead of most freshmen. He’s got a little more than that. Tries incredibly hard, has really good skills, like anybody that’s really competitive, impatient at times. His best plays are polished, high-effort plays and his bad plays right now are ones (that are) frantic where he tries too hard.”
– Defensive coordinator Mike Breske spoke afterward about Destiny Vaeao's move to buck linebacker. Vaeao practiced with the No. 1 defense at that spot again today, because, as Breske said, he's one of WSU's top four players they want to have up front. The other three are Toni Pole, Ioane Gauta and Xavier Cooper.
“We just decided that Destiny from high school is a tight end, is athletic and we’re going to work him in at our buck position so we can get big,” Breske said. “He’s good off the edge, he can drop (in coverage) and he’s learning that, but he’s been very, very positive in the offseason.”
Vaeao didn't practice during the spring due to injury, but has already drawn praise from Leach after two days of camp.
Logan Mayes, meanwhile, is running with the No. 2 group at defensive end, a position he appears to have moved to permanently.
– Otherwise, the defense looks much the way it did in the spring — Deone Bucannon and Casey Locker starting at safety, Damante Horton and Nolan Washington at the corners, Justin Sagote and Darryl Monroe up the middle at linebacker, and Cyrus Coen on the outside at “sam” linebacker.
The second unit featured, at times, Mayes, Matthew Bock and Robert Barber up front, Ivan McLennan (or Kache Palacio) at buck, Jared Byers, Tana Pritchard and Feddie Davey at linebacker, and freshman Daquawn Brown, Taylor Taliulu, Mitchell Peterson and Anthony Carpenter in the secondary.
– The first semi-substantial fight of camp involved receiver Bobby Ratliff and freshman cornerback Daquawn Brown. Alex Jackson tried to get involved, too, but it was broken up before anything could really come of it. Ratliff received praise for his feistiness from his offensive teammates.
– Prior to Galvin's “touchdown” catch, Austin Apodaca threw an interception to linebacker Tana Pritchard after being forced to roll out of the pocket to his right. Pritchard took off running the other way — turnovers are blown dead during camp, so there aren't really any returned interceptions or fumbles — and John Fullington, who wasn't in the play at the time, decided to take off after him. He dove and lost his helmet in the process, but Pritchard evaded his grasp as everyone giggled.
– Group of players riding exercise bikes included: CB Rahmel Dockery, S Paris Taylor, WR Tyler Baker and S Darius Lemora.
– Chester Su'a and Matt Meyer were again absent from practice. Don't expect an explanation on that any time soon.