FROM PULLMAN — Washington State scrimmaged for roughly 52-55 plays this afternoon, and we have plenty to pass along from that. But the bigger news tonight is that coach Mike Leach confirmed the departure of redshirt freshman cornerback Rahmel Dockery, who Leach said will “make other plans” to play elsewhere. Read on.
Dockery didn't attend practice on Tuesday or Wednesday, and as Howie Stalwick reported, it was because he was thinking of leaving the team. It turns out that was indeed the decision he made. Leach said “I think he wants to get somewhere where he can play, and we encourage him and we’ll help him do that.”
Dockery, a standout receiver and kick returner at Curtis High School in Tacoma, was crushed when coaches moved him to cornerback last season. But he told me during spring practice that he was “past the point of wanting to go back to offense,” and appeared to be making a run at playing time this season. Now he's headed elsewhere, perhaps to play receiver, as he so badly wanted.
– As mentioned above, this was a pretty short scrimmage for the Cougars. The offense again fared pretty well. Connor Halliday completed 11 of 17 passes for 91 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. The touchdowns were all short — five yards to Isiah Myers, three yards to Rickey Galvin (though it should be noted that Galvin dropped the ball as he went to the ground and the officials called it a touchdown anyway), and five yards to Robert Lewis.
Halliday and Austin Apodaca each played three series, with Halliday taking all of the snaps with the No. 1 offense and Apodaca working with the No. 2s as usual. Apodaca's stats were solid: 7-of-13 for 93 yards and a touchdown, a 52-yard toss to River Cracraft on the fifth play of the scrimmage.
Cracraft put up a monster stat line, grabbing six passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns. The freshman continues to contend for a starting spot at inside receiver, though he seemed pretty displeased with his performance afterward.
“The thing I’ve been struggling with is blocking, and I’d like to improve on that a lot more,” Cracraft said. “I had a few plays—multiple plays actually – where I missed my block and the running back got hit, and that’s something I need to improve on.”
Said Halliday: “He must have had close to 200 yards in a scrimmage. If he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’s going to be a heck of a receiver.”
Cracraft's second touchdown catch, a 48-yarder from Tyler Bruggman, appeared to be the result of blown coverage, because he was all by himself when he hauled the pass in. I asked Leach how Cracraft seems to be so consistently open. His response was lengthy and detailed.
“He’s excited to play,” Leach said. “He goes out there and plays hard every snap, so he’s reliable, so he’s got more opportunities to get open than some guys who don’t play as hard as he does, because he’s going to maximize every one of them.
“The other thng, there’s a trust factor that develops between you and the quarterback, so then he’s looking for you. He knows what you’re going to do, he trusts what you’re going to do and all of a sudden, balls look a ltitle more accurate, and they’re not necessarily more accurate, it’s just that the combination of the precision of the route and you throwing the ball is more on the same page because of the consistency that he provides.
“He’s played hard really from day one, and everybody’s banged up and tired, him probably more than anybody, because he’s taken more reps than anybody we have in the first group, Because he did all that post-practice stuff when were in Lewiston. Each practice at the end we’d run a bunch of plays with the new guys, and he did every one of those, too. He’s probably repped as much as anybody on the entire team, just because he really had a practice and a half every time in Lewiston.”
– With Damante Horton still sidelined by injury, Daquawn Brown continued to rep with the first team at cornerback. He nearly intercepted a pass from Apodaca, too.
The rest of the No. 1 defense looked about the same, with some minor tweaks — Xavier Cooper, Ioane Gauta and Toni Pole up front; Destiny Vaeao at buck, Justin Sagote at weakside linebacker, Darryl Monroe up the middle and Eric Oertel on the outside; and Deone Bucannon and Taylor Taliulu at safety. Anthony Carpenter, who had been repping with the No. 1 defense, was with the No. 2s at safety.
– Speaking of the No. 2 defense, the first group they sent out featured Lyman Faoliu, Matthew Bock and Daniel Ekuale along the defensive line; Kache Palacio, Tana Pritchard, Jaredy Byers and Cyrus Coen at linebacker; Carpenter and Mitchell Peterson at safety, and Tracy Clark and freshman Charleston White at cornerback. Darryl Paulo, Robert Barber and Logan Mayes rotated through the defensive line.
White had a pretty impressive interception when he outjumped Gabe Marks for a pass in the end zone from Halliday.
– Tyler Bruggman continues to look pretty impressive in live-action settings. He played three series with the No. 3 offense, and completed 6-of-8 passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns.
Luke Falk also got a couple of series and completed five of eight passes for 38 yards and a 3-yard touchdown pass to Bobby Ratliff.
– Cole Madison continues to fill in at right tackle with the No. 2 offense for the injured Jacob Seydel. Devonte McClain and Riley Sorenson each saw time at left tackle with the No. 2 o-line.
– Cooper came up with a rare scrimmage safety when he “sacked” Apodaca in the end zone.
– Casey Locker stood on the sidelines but didn't suit up. He didn't practice Thursday, either.
– Bennett Bontemps, who has been in a walking boot recently, was in attendance and on crutches.
– Leach said he was pleased with the play of the No. 3 offensive line, which consisted of Sorenson, Brent Anderson, Sam Flor, B.J. Salmonson and Madison. Cody O'Connell got some snaps at left guard, Carlos Freeman took some snaps at center, Denzell Dotson saw time at right guard, and Pierson Villarubia took a few snaps at left tackle.
– Only six rushing plays today, though they netted 38 yards.
– The scrimmage ended with a last-second field-goal drill, in which the offense ran a play before sprinting to the sideline so the field-goal team could get situated. Andrew Furney made a 48-yarder, but he also missed from 52 and 41. Said Leach: “He's got to kick better than that.”
– WSU will practice at 4 p.m. tomorrow. It's scheduled to be a short one.
Here are the full stats from the scrimmage, as compiled by WSU Sports Information:
Apodaca to Cracraft, 52-yard pass
Halliday to Myers, 5-yard pass
Halliday to Galvin, 3-yard pass
Bruggman to D. Williams, 22-yard pass
Bruggman to Cracraft, 48-yard pass
Falk to Ratliff, 3-yard pass
Halliday to Lewis, 5-yard pass
Furney 48-yard field goal
J. Morrow 1-11
J. Laufasa 1-8
G. Wicks 2-7
M. Mason 1-7
L. Brooks 1-5
C. Halliday 11-17-91, 3 TD, 1 INT
A. Apodaca 7-13-93, TD
T. Bruggman 6-8-116, 2 TD
L. Falk 5-8-38, TD
R. Cracraft 6-144, 2 TD
G. Marks 4-61
R. Galvin 3-23, TD
V. Mayle 2-27
J. Morrow 2-18
I. Myers 2-10, TD
K. Williams 2-8
T. Caldwell 2-6
D. Williams 1-22, TD
G. Wicks 1-8
J. Thompson 1-8
B. Ratliff 1-3, TD
R. Lewis 1-5, TD
T. West 1- (-5)
X. Cooper 2
T. Pole 1
C. White 1
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple