FROM PULLMAN — It was a brief practice for Washington State tonight, with some truncated drill periods preceding team session. The whole thing didn't last much more than an hour. We do have a few notes, so read on.
This won't be a particularly long post, because there just simply isn't that much to pass along. The bulk of today's practice was spent working on special teams — punt coverage, kickoff return, etc. — though there was also the usual 1-on-1 and skelly periods.
Connor Halliday didn't throw any passes during 1-on-1s, but he did lead the offense during skelly and team period. It wasn't his best day. Deone Bucannon grabbed two interceptions within about five minutes of each other, the first on a pass intended for Robert Lewis, the second a pass intended for Kristoff Williams over the middle.
Daquawn Brown also had a nice breakup on an attempted slant route to Williams.
Austin Apodaca completed a nice gain to Lewis over the middle when the No. 2 offense took the field. Lewis absorbed a pretty big blow from safety Mitchell Peterson, though he held onto the ball.
Apodaca later connected with Gabe Marks for a lengthy gain under pressure. Marks beat Tracy Clark on the play.
– Darryl Paulo sacked Apodaca during team period, too.
– Taylor Taliulu continues to take the first-team reps at safety alongside Deone Bucannon.
– Casey Locker was again a bystander, wearing his jersey and a backward baseball cap.
– Didn't see injured offensive lineman Jacob Seydel, or injured safety Bennett Bontemps, in attendance.
– Damante Horton, Paris Taylor and Tyler Baker are still limited.
– The Pac-12 Networks were in town today filming content for a show that will air Monday at 7 p.m. Rick Neuheisel and Mike Yam are touring each Pac-12 football camp. Neuheisel was on the field observing during practice. He has a connection to Mike Leach's staff — running backs coach Jim Mastro worked for him at UCLA in 2011. The two had a long talk in the Bohler galleria prior to practice.
– Programming note: tomorrow is the last day players will be available to the media until after the Auburn game. So while we will still find ways to cover the team to the best of our ability, just wanted to give a heads up that our coverage will be less comprehensive than it has been.
With our offensive line preview running in today's paper, here are some additional quotes about that group from offensive line coach Clay McGuire.
(What do you want people to know about the o-line this season?) “We’re a lot tougher and a lot more competitive than we were. I guess that would be the one thing. I’ve been really pleased. It’s basically the same guys for the most part. The core guys are the same, but they’ve come out and did a great job. Coach Leach has really implemented the no-hesitation type thing. I think the kids have come out and played hard, played fast, I think they’ve played tough and we’re a lot more competitive than we were last year. At times last year it was too easy for us to give up. There’s so many times this year … we go against a good defensive line every week and there’s so many times this year where a play would go wrong, we’d give up something but the guys would just compete and finish it and the quarterback was able to move around and make a play, whereas last year it would have been an easy sack.”
(About the sack number) “I don’t know what our final number was, but what it was was extremely, extremely too high for anybody. But yeah, cut it in half. I think that’s a realistic goal, and it’s one thing, it’s the whole thing. we’re so much better at all positions that I think it will do that just naturally. But yeah that’s one thing last year, we’re getting quarterbacks knocked out left and right and they never felt comfortable in the pocket, they never felt like they could sit back there and do their job. This year we’ve got to give them that kind of consistency where they feel they can get back there and work and run this thing how it’s supposed to be.”
(On Rico Forbes) “I think he’s a little better than he was at that point last year. He’s definitely more mature, I think he’s in better shape, he’s still got a lot of upside to him. He still hasn’t played very much football. I don’t think he’s taken a snap of Division 1 football. … He needs to come out here and do that every single day. He’s got to be more consistent with his body language and demeanor.”
(On simplifying the run game) “I think in the run game, I overcomplicated things, trying to make sure we could block the video and block everything perfectly, and it wasn’t realistic. It made our guys hesitate and play slow and it didn’t give them any rules to just go fast and play fast. The biggest thing we really worked on was making sure our run game was as simple as we possibly could make it so our guys could play as fast as they possibly could. Pass protection is pretty much the same, it’s just you’ve got a bunch of guys that are bigger, faster, stronger than last year. At the end of last season I think (Elliott) Bosch was in the 260s, (Matt) Goetz was in the 260s, Gunnar (Eklund) was a 280-pound freshman walk-on. We just had no size. We look out here this year, John’s (Fullington) a solid 300-plus pounds, Rico’s a solid 300-plus pounds, Bosch is playing at 280-something, Eklund’s in the 290s and Joe Dahl is a 300-pounder. Our guys are a whole year later. We were basically playing a bunch of freshmen last year.”