From Pullman — After a pair of full-pads practices replete with slobber-knockers, jaw-wobblers and even a couple head-rattlers, the Cougars took it easier on Tuesday, scaling back the armament to shoulder pads, helmets and shorts and reducing the hitting to a “thud” tempo. This involves the defender hitting a ball-carrier hard enough to create a “thud” but not taking them to the ground.
More on Tuesday's practice after the jump.
It was an up and down day for the offense and the defense. The mixed results drew mixed reviews from the coaching staff.
“I thought defense had good tempo early, I thought offense had better tempo in team,” coach Mike Leach said. “The good thing is nobody ever let anybody totally escape, the bad thing is we were streaky out there.”
One of the defenders who looked good early was a former offensive player, Sebastian LaRue, who worked out at cornerback for the second day. In the 1-on-1 WR vs. DB drills LaRue smothered receiver Willie Roach on one pass and broke up another intended for Daniel Lilienthal.
“I think he’s got good feet, good balance. Obviously he’s got to learn the position now and that type of deal but he brings a lot to the plate and as soon as he develops his defensive mind I’m excited to see what he can do,” defensive coordinator Mike Breske said. “We’ve got some time with him to get him going and spring is really the time to work on that.”
Check out tomorrow's paper for more on LaRue's position switch.
Darius Lemora also did well in the 1-on-1 drill, jumping a short drag route and ripping the ball away from freshman receiver Calvin Green, who drew the ire of his coaches for not getting his hands up.
Connor Halliday continued to look sharp, going 12-20 with two touchdowns in 7-on-7 passing drills. Linebacker Mitch Peterson, a former walk-on safety, had a nice pass breakup on a sideline throw to River Cracraft and Tyler Baker dropped one pass but hauled in another.
It was Tyler Bruggman's turn at the backup spot and he went 11 for 20 with three short touchdowns. He also had an interception when a pass to Rickey Galvin was bobbled and then scooped up by safety Taylor Taliulu.
We saw some new starters during the 11-on-11 “team” period. Ivan McLennan has looked good so far this spring and started at the Buck linebacker position in place of Kache Palacio. Tracy Clark started at one cornerback start in place of Charleston White and Beau Glover continued to fill in for Isaac Dotson, who is limited.
Halliday went a smooth 12 of 16 in the team period including a end zone strike to Drew Loftus over a defender from 22 yards out. He had another score to Kristoff Williams from just inside the 10-yard line.
Bruggman went 12 of 17 with a deep pass to Roach as well as short touchdowns to Loftus and running back Jamal Morrow. The team huddled as if practice was over but then gave Luke Falk a turn running the offense. Falk's session began poorly with the offense fumbling the snap on the first play. However, on 4th-and-10 Falk completed a 30-yard pass to Loftus over Kamel Greene, finishing 3 of 5 with a sack by Moritz Christ.
— Limited in practice were Daniel Ekuale, Dotson, Nate DeRider, Gabe Marks, Dom Williams and Isiah Myers. Marks participated in 1-on-1 drills against the defensive backs.
— On Friday redshirt freshman Emmitt Su'a-Kalio pled guilty to fourth-degree assault in Whitman County Superior Court. The 18-year-old was arrested in October following an altercation with a teammate whose jaw was broken after Su'a-Kalio punched him. Su-a-Kalio was sentenced to 240 hours of community service and must pay a $1,450 fine, which includes $200 to pay for a blender the victim purchased to eat with while his jaw was wired shut.
After practice Leach was asked if there would be additional repercussion from the team and said, “We'll wait for all that to unfold. That whole thing happened a long time ago and we've already addressed that.”