FROM LEWISTON -- It was about 2:40 p.m. when Washington State huddled to begin practice with its bull-in-the-ring drill. And it was about 3:42 p.m. when they huddled again to signify the end of practice. There isn't a whole lot to pass along, but we do have a few notes after the jump.
We were told this would be a short one, and that's exactly what it was -- though Connor Halliday said he was a little nervous about it, because one-hour practices have a way of turning into three-hour practices if coach Mike Leach detects a letdown in effort or energy.
"Every short practice that we’ve had scheduled with Leach has ended up being about three hours, because any time you have a short practice scheduled, if one little thing goes wrong, all hell will break loose," Halliday said. "I said to the team before practice, 'since I’ve been here, every short practice we’ve had scheduled has been at least three hours, so get your mental reps in, be positive and don’t mess this up.'"
Fortunately for WSU players wanting to get off the field early, Leach liked what he saw.
Asked why he picked today to give his team a bit of a break, Leach said: "We’d had really long practices, and usually you’ll hit the wall day three or day four. It took us until day nine, so we had a good offseason, I thought, from that standpoint, because we didn’t really hit the wall I don’t think until yesterday. It’s just a balance. You want them to push through as much as possible, but if you go too far, you’re working on something but you’re not working on football. Then the timing’s all fouled up and of course people have been doing that for years. Grind through, have these ridiculously long practices. Yeah, you’re persevering and there’s a toughness to it, but football’s also a game of execution and if you deteriorate the timing to that degree you kind of limit how much work you’re really getting done, even though it’s long and you’re out there."
--- As for tomorrow's scrimmage, it sounds like it might end up being on the short side, too. Leach said he's not entirely sure how many plays it might end up being, though he estimated it would go about 70 -- with 30 of those going to the third-team offense and defense.
--- With the team gathered together after practice, Leach spent a few minutes addressing their academic situation. He told them that while there are still some grades rolling in from the summer semester, the team's combined grade-point average is above 3.0, which would put it in second place among all men's sports teams at WSU (golf is in the lead).
"We had a heck of a semester," Leach said. "We just need to keep doing it and improving it."
--- Each practice period was condensed today, as you might expect, so there isn't a heck of a lot to report from any session. Gabe Marks again made a couple of nice plays, though he gave up an interception during 7-on-7s when Tracy Clark stripped a pass away from him and the ball bounded into the arms of Casey Locker. Marks later caught a pass from Halliday that might have been a touchdown after he beat a defender with a spin move and sprinted into the end zone. But with only light contact, it was hard to tell if he would have scored.
--- Leon Brooks had a big gain on a screen pass that also might have gone for a touchdown. Zach Brevick threw the block that sprung him, and he and Darryl Monroe got tangled up a bit afterward.
--- Vince Mayle ran a sharp route during 7-on-7s that led to a touchdown after he ran past Alex Jackson and Isaac Dotson.
--- On at least one play during team session, the second-team defense consisted of: Logan Mayes, Robert Barber and Matthew Bock on the defensive line; Ivan McLellan, Jeremiah Allison, Peyton Pelluer and Eric Oertel at linebacker; Daquawn Brown and Alex Jackson at cornerback; and Casey Locker and Isaac Dotson at safety.
--- Players who were limited: S Bennett Bontemps, LB Austin Rapp, S Paris Taylor, DB Michael Fields, WR Tyler Baker, WR Ryan Turman.