FROM PULLMAN -- It was back to normal surroundings for the Washington State football team earlier this afternoon, as the Cougars returned to Rogers Field and Martin Stadium and practiced for a couple of hours on either side of the construction site. We've got some news and notes after the jump.
--- For those of you eager to get a look at the progress of the football operations building ... well, there isn't a whole lot to look at right now. But if you were there to see any of it during the spring, you'll certainly notice a difference. The concrete frame is in place, whereas three months ago there was just a big, dirt hole.
--- This wasn't the Cougars' at their most crisp. Austin Apodaca described the team's 7-on-7 session as "a little weird" due to a lull in the middle of it, though the team seemed to respond well enough and did get some good work in during team session.
--- Connor Halliday didn't take quite as many reps as he's used to, as Apodaca and Tyler Bruggman both had quite a few throws during 1-on-1s. Halliday did lead the first-team offense during 7-on-7s and team session, just like he always does, and led his group to a touchdown after making a couple of clever throws to Isiah Myers and Kristoff Williams.
Coach Mike Leach said he "just wanted to get them (Apodaca and Bruggman) some extra throws. Both have done well. Of course, Apodaca has played well, but he’s had less reps than Connor. Then Bruggman, he threw second skel, but (I wanted to) see him against better people and let him go one on one."
Said Halliday: "That’s just something coach Leach wanted," Halliday said. "I don’t really have any say in that. I ran skelly and team, kind of our two big periods, but kind of the individual, 1-on-1 stuff, that was just kind of to rest my arm a little bit."
--- Damante Horton had to be helped off the field after he intercepted a pass in the end zone from Apodaca during team session, then appeared to land awkwardly on his right leg. He was favoring that leg as trainers helped him walk off the field, though he later was walking by himself with an ice pack strapped to his right hip.
--- Anthony Carpenter was with the No. 1 defense at safety alongside Deone Bucannon. That spot has been a bit of a revolving door during camp, with defensive coordinator Mike Breske trying to get different players used to playing with one another.
--- Jeremiah Laufasa continues to impress. During team session, he took a handoff from Halliday up the middle only to be turned back by the defensive front. But he didn't go down. Instead, he bounced to the left side and out-ran the defense to the pylon to score a touchdown. Laufasa also drew some "ooohs" from teammates when he ran over Horton earlier in practice.
--- OL Devonte McClain returned to practice after he was absent Sunday.
--- Feddie Davey, Paris Taylor, Tyler Baker and Bennett Bontemps are still limited.
With our position preview beginning tomorrow with the quarterbacks, here's a sampling of what both Halliday and Apodaca had to say about their progression:
(On improvement since spring) "This whole camp I’ve gotten so much better since spring ball. I still have a long way to go and a lot to improve on, just being comfortable back there and being comfortable in the offense, confident in the offense and actually knowing my reads and getting through my progressions has shot up since spring because sometimes in the spring, I was guessing on where things were going to be, guessing on my reads, and now I’m way more confident in the offense and I know my progressions, I know where I’m supposed to go with the ball and as long as I have a plan, things are going to be good."
(Is that the hardest part? All of the options?) "In one particular play there could be five to six reads and to get through all of those in the beginning is challenging. Once you get reps and you watch a lot of video, watch lots and lots of film, you start getting more comfortable as you go on. This spring I’ve been getting in the film room a lot more and getting confidence in myself. And it helps just getting reps on the field. If you’re sitting out not getting any reps, you’re not going to get very comfortable with it."
(How do you approach things mentally knowing Connor is probably in the lead?) "I don’t really try to compare. I can’t control the outcome, I can’t control whatever decision is made by the coaches. What I can worry about is to come out here and make myself better every day, getting through progressions and trying to get better at those, reading defenses better, making the team better. Whatever I can do to make myself better day in and day out is what I concentrate on because I can’t focus on things I can’t control."
(Do you have the mentality that it's your job right now?) "To be honest, I try to, even when I was a redshirt freshman I tried to approach it that way. At some points in your career it isn’t totally realistic. I’ve always tried to approach the way I handle things as I’m the starter, so if something were to happen, like my redshirt freshman year, I was ready to go. I just try to do that all the time. So yes, I am taking it that way right now."
(On differences in QB group between now and a year ago) "I think the biggest deal, a lot of offensive coaches talk about this – the biggest growth as an offense is from year one to year two. ... Our spring ball with coach Leach, to put it honestly, was terrible. People didn’t know what they were doing. People didn’t know the reads. We didn’t know what coach Leach expected, so I mean just knowing coach Leach’s expectations is the biggest thing from last fall camp to this fall camp."