FROM PULLMAN — The rain started early Tuesday afternoon and didn't stop, making this Washington State's wettest practice of the season. It was also the longest practice of the year for a select few players. Read on for details.
A few weeks ago, I ventured into the Bookie and purchased three yellow Ampad notepads, my stock for the beginning of the season. I am sad to report that one of them is now out of commission after taking in a little too much water at Martin Stadium this afternoon.
That was the result of waiting about 20 minutes after practice for WSU's receivers, quarterbacks and running backs to finish throwing very short passes to each other on the sidelines after a performance coach Mike Leach did not particularly care for.
So the passing and catching was punitive, in an instructional manner.
“We certainly had a session of skill development. There were those who thought the responsibility to catch the ball in the rain changed, so we had to work on that a little bit,” Leach said.
So what was the problem?
“Just concentration, and soft and felt sorry for themselves,” Leach said. “And then the rest of the team I thought practiced real well. I thought offensive line did well, thought secondary and linebackers did pretty good. So I thought it was overall a good practice.”
The weather is supposed to heat back up by Thursday and Friday, but showers are in the forecast for Saturday. And Weather.com calls for a low of 40 degrees on Saturday night, which means it could be chilly by the time that 7:30 kickoff turns into a 10:30 fourth quarter.
– It appears as if Leon Brooks will try his hand at receiver. During scout work today, Brooks lined up at the H-receiver spot, which is where Leach said he will play on Saturday.
“He’s a good player and just (want) to get him on the field,” Leach said. “We’ve got a couple guys playing pretty good at running back, so we wanted to get him out there.”
Brooks caught four passes for 20 yards against Southern Utah, with a long of 12 yards.
Leach said his switch to receiver is “not 100 percent, but we think he can play there. He’ll play there this weekend.”
– A few of us spoke with special-teams coach Eric Russell after practice, mostly about how his time at Idaho helped jump-start his coaching career. You can read more about that in Thursday's newspaper, but Russell also touched on the performance so far of punter Mike Bowlin, who is averaging a pretty pedestrian 37.2 yards per punt. That's an especially disappointing number for someone with a leg as strong as Bowlin's.
Russell said it's mostly about mechanics.
“Mike won't keep his head down on the ball and jams himself,” Russell said. “Now, we've had a few sky kicks … but he hasn't punted the ball anywhere close to what he did a year ago or what he was doing in fall camp, and it's all fundamentals. I don't know how much of it's mental, but we're trying to get that stuff fixed, there's no question, because he hasn't been what we need him to be.”
Russell said he's also fielded a few questions about Bowlin's shoes.
“Obviously, I've got to be blind not to notice them, i guess. I have no part in his shoes,” Russell said. “The shoes might be a short-time thing. I told him today, it'd be nice to start distinguishing yourself by your punting instead of your shoes. I've got people from all over that talk about Bowlin's shoes. Well, I don't check out shoes. I'm not the one who bought them.”
So there you have it.
– Russell also said he's going to try to use Isaac Dotson on special teams now that he's burned his redshirt and will play this season.
– River Cracraft fielded a few punts during practice. Russell said he's looking for someone to provide competition for Brooks, who has been WSU's primary punt returner the last three seasons.