From Pullman — The Washington State football team returned to Martin Stadium on Saturday afternoon, practicing outdoors for the first time in over a week. With temperatures in Pullman below zero at times recently, the Cougars have been making use of their inflated indoor practice facility.
“We could've (practiced outside) pretty much every day,” coach Mike Leach said. “Because we just clear (the snow) off. But it's fine, I don't know where we'll be on Tuesday but if it's like this we'll be out here.”
Leach also spoke a bit about senior safety Deone Bucannon, who has been invited to participate in the Senior Bowl while earning some awards and honors at the end of the season. Leach said that among all the defensive backs he's ever had on his teams, Bucannon is “Better than average, he's a good one. He plays good, he's very physical, maybe the most physical one … In particular I like his leadership qualities. He's a relatively quiet guy but when he says something he's got something to say and he commands attention when he says it.”
More on practice, after the jump.
The team practiced for a little over an hour, then let the underclassmen do their Thursday Night Football scrimmage, which was postponed because of finals week.
First, however, the team did their 7 on 7 drill, with the first string offense going against the first string defense on one side of the field and the backups doing the same on the other side. Connor Halliday went 10 of 17 passing during the session, while Austin Apodaca went 6 of 8 and had a pass intercepted by Nolan Washington.
The younger players have received the bulk of the practice time since the Apple Cup, and on Saturday they got a chance to show off their improvement.
“It was alright, it wasn't our best work but I thought the defensive line played good. I thought (Brett) Bartolone and (Tyler) Baker played good,” Leach said. “Both quarterbacks did some good stuff, but yeah we've just got to keep playing, keep getting opportunities to give them work.”
The defense dominated the scrimmage, with safety Darius Lemora standing out in particular. All three of Lemora's tackles could be heard from the stands, and he broke up a pair of passes by hitting the receiver just as the ball arrived.
But the defense playing well meant that the offense was out of sorts. Quarterback Tyler Bruggman completed 7 of 14 passes, and through a pass that would have been intercepted but was dropped by linebacker Mitchell Peterson. Bruggman also had a deep ball dropped by Tyler Baker, who was alone behind the secondary for what would have been a big gain.
Baker made up for his drop when Luke Falk took over at quarterback, hauling in a pass and taking it to the house for a 41-yard touchdown.
Falk finished 5 of 11 with an interception by Tracy Clark to end practice.