FROM PULLMAN — Washington State went through its usual Sunday night paces, mostly working on special teams and scout work during a short practice at Martin Stadium. We have a couple notes, plus interviews with coach Mike Leach and defensive coordinator Mike Breske.
– Nolan Washington returned to the no-pads practice tonight, going through scout work with the No. 1 defense at cornerback. Daquawn Brown got his share of snaps, too, though most came with the No. 2 defense during scout situations. Alex Jackson also took some snaps at corner. Anthony Carpenter was back in his practice jersey and had his helmet with him, but I didn't see him take any reps with either the first or second team.
– Breske said right now, Isaac Dotson is WSU's fourth safety behind Deone Bucannon, Taylor Taliulu and Casey Locker. Dotson didn't play Saturday against USC, though Breske has said that he won't redshirt. Asked about him tonight, Breske said: “He’s our fourth guy right now, and we’re going to see how it goes, game by game. But he’s ready to go. We’re going to be smart with him.”
– Breske said he expected more downfield passing from USC in the second half, but that obviously didn't happen. He credited WSU's defensive line for generating push even when they were only rushing three guys.
“I thought we were very stout up front. Our fits were, for the most part, right on target,” Breske said. “We got some pressure with a 3-man. We did a lot of 8-man drop yesterday which they weren’t ready for. We still got some pressure out of that. The pick for a touchdown, Toni Pole just smacks the quarterback when he releases it on a 3-man rush. So I was real happy with the way the d-line played.”
– Breske also said Damante Horton could have had an additional interception.
“Just playing with a lot of confidence. He’s a senior, just playing with a lot of confidence,” Breske said. “He could have had another pick. We were in cloud coverage and they threw it, and he could have easily had three interceptions.”
– On Daquawn Brown, Breske said: “Good for a first-time start. He had a little pressure being at home. Did a good job, had a couple penalties that we’ve got to clean up, technique issue, and we’ll work hard on that, but played very spirited, played with a lot of emotion out there, which you have to as a corner.”
– On the defense overall, Breske said: “The first half, other than that 3rd-and-9 play that we gave up after the takeaway, it was a pretty clean half. Real happy with the way we tackled, our run fits. No big pass plays. No explosive pass plays at all. Just two explosive run plays for the game.”
And the secondary?
“Real happy. Guys did a great job, kept everything in front of them, concerned going in on the deep stuff. They went deep four times. That was it. Did a real good job on that.”
Here's a partial transcript of Leach's comments …
(How important is a win like this early in the season?) “I think it helps. I think there’s no question it helps. I think it kind of reinforces the focus it took to get it, but with that said, it needs to be understood there’s a lot of work to do. We’ve got a ton of work to do. We’ve got to learn from that film and this week we’ve got to get a week better. That game doesn’t count anymore. All that counts is Southern Utah.”
(Are there concerns about the offense going forward, or was that a really good USC defense?) “I think when you play somebody as good as them, you’re slicing it pretty thin and you have to maintain great technique. They’ll test you because they’re really good physically and you have to maintain really good technique and I think we need to be more disciplined doing that. Also, that was the strength of their team and that was going to present problems, and it did. We stayed away from it better and managed the second half and it’s one of those body-punch deals where whoever finishes the game the best is going to win.”
(On WSU's defense as a whole) “Thought they played real well. Thought we did a good job getting pressure with the front. Thought the DBs did a good job rallying to the ball. Only gave up two explosives, so that was good too.”
(Are Connor Halliday's turnovers a concern?) “We’ve just got to keep improving. We’ve got to keep getting better. Just make better decisions and don’t try to force too much. I thought he did a great job managing the game in the second half. The one catch (interception) the kid made was one of the best catches I’ve seen all year. That was an incredible catch.”
(Any possibility of a letdown against Southern Utah?) “We better not. We’re going to coach hard all week. We’ve got to get better this week. It doesn’t matter who you play and we’ve got the utmost respect for Southern Utah. They should have beat Cal last year. We’ve got to get a week better. Part of this is a whole building process and you have to improve each week. We have to get a week better this week.”