FROM PULLMAN — Another day, another practice for the Washington State football team, which is now only 15 days away from its season opener at Auburn. The Cougars will scrimmage tomorrow at roughly 4:30 p.m. in Martin Stadium. For now, we have notes and such.
Austin Apodaca and Tyler Bruggman continued to take all of the reps during individual drills and 1-on-1s, with Connor Halliday continuing to rest his arm. Will be interesting to see how long that continues.
Halliday, as usual, ran the first-team offense during team session, though they didn't get in the end zone. The second-team offense did, as Apodaca connected with Dominique Williams beating Charleston White deep for a long touchdown.
After Apodaca completed a pass to Isiah Myers deep down the sidelines against Tracy Clark, Leon Brooks bounced a touchdown run off the right side on a play inside the red zone. Brooks had taken a big hit from linebacker Jeremiah Allison just before his touchdown.
– Jacob Seydel, who has been pretty firmly entrenched at left tackle with the No. 2 offensive line, left early in practice after injuring his right foot/ankle area. Seydel was having trouble putting any kind of pressure on his right foot, and had to be helped off the field. Cole Madison replaced Seydel at right tackle during team session.
– Darryl Monroe, who was shaken up during Wednesday's practice, returned today and looked fine.
– Rahmel Dockery is still absent. Mike Leach said afterward that he's not sure of Dockery's status.
– Damante Horton was again an observer, and rode the exercise bikes some at the beginning of practice. For the second consecutive day, Daquawn Brown stepped in and played cornerback with the No. 1 defense.
– Didn't see Casey Locker in attendance. Anthony Carpenter continues to take first-team reps at strong safety.
– Thursday was an encouraging day for the running game. Twice in 3rd-and-short situations, Teondray Caldwell picked up first downs for the first-team offense by running through pretty good-sized holes. The first of those runs was a sprint down the right sideline that might have been a pretty decent gain if the Cougars had been playing full-contact.
– Kache Palacio has seen quite a bit of time at buck linebacker with the No. 1 defense the past couple days. Leach said that doesn't necessarily mean Palacio has taken the lead at that position.
“They’re fighting it out,” Leach said. “He’s played it before and he did a good job in spring. They complement each other really well. One guy’s real fast and explosive. The other guy’s faster than you think and athletic but he weighs 290. So I do think there’s certainly a situation for both off them in different packages so I think they’re just trying to iron that out.”
– Eric Oertel was with the first-team defense at SAM linebacker.
– Bruggman and Vince Mayle stayed after practice to work on routes.
With our receivers preview running in Friday's newspaper, we spoke a bit with outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons.
(What have you seen from Dominique Williams?) “Just improvement and him starting to have confidence in his ability and his talent. He’s playing a lot faster, he’s not out there thinking. He’s just out there being a football player and making plays. There’s several things that he can do exceptionally well and we’ve put him in position, and he’s put himself in position to be able to do those things. It’s built his confidence and he’s playing with a lot of confidence right now and we need to continue to do that.”
(What are some of those things he does well?) “He’s a great vertical route runner, he runs posts well, and he’s improved on slants.”
(Is it going to be a game-time decision as far as who starts?) “It really is. Right now, the way I look at it is I’ve got four starters. I don’t really hold my breath with any of those guys. Really I’ve got five starters. I don’t hold my breath with any of those guys when they’re in the football game. that’s the way I want it. Like I’ve said before, I want to have a great unit, not one great individual. If both of those guys are playing well, the X and Z spot, we’re a better football team, we’re a better receiver corps and it’s just better all the way around. Right now we have the luxury where we can put five guys out on the field and really not have to worry. It’s a good situation to have. Right now all of those guys are just competing and we want to carry that throughout the remainder of fall camp and through the season.”
(How is Vince Mayle coming along?) “There’s still some things he needs to refine. But he’s working hard. He’s got his strengths as well.”
(Like in the red zone?) “Red zone, open field, short yardage situations. He’s nice to have all over the field. He’s got some strengths and things he does that strengthens our unit as well.”
(Gabe Marks?) “He’s gotten some weight on him, for one. He’s been working with (strength) coach (Jason) Loscalzo during the offseason and he’s gotten some strength on him. He’s always been a competitive guy. Now he’s been able to hone that in and stay focused and come out and work hard every day.”
(What kind of production do you look for on the outside?) “In a perfect world we’d go for 4,000 (yards) total, 2,000 each side. On the outside alone, 4,000 yards between the X and the Z position.”