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WSU spring game choppy but illuminating

From Pullman — The Cougars have one more practice on Tuesday but today's Crimson and Gray game was the spring showcase. You can read our story from the game here and keep an eye out for a John Blanchette column from Joe Albi. Here are the game stats. The team was pretty amped up for the game, perhaps too much so, and there was some sloppy play and some missed opportunities on both sides early. Still, the 6,233 fans who came to the game got a pretty good sampler of what we've seen this spring, including:


— Connor Halliday is way out in front and Luke Falk is playing a little better than Tyler Bruggman right now — Both backups have good and bad days this spring and both are a long ways from being ready to take over for Halliday. The difference is consistency. Halliday consistently gets through his progression quickly, makes the correct read and delivers the ball accurately. Bruggman and Falk don't appear to go through their options as quickly and will still miss an open receiver occasionally when they make the correct read. 

Bruggman also suffered from some slippery-handed receivers on Saturday and drops led to at least one and possibly two of his three interceptions. By that token, however, he also benefitted from a dropped pick by cornerback Sebastian LaRue.

— Sebastian LaRue will play at cornerback, if he is eligible — Whether or not the NCAA waives LaRue's obligation to sit out next season after transferring from Texas A&M looks like it will have a real impact on WSU's cornerback depth next season. LaRue seemed to struggle with drops early in spring and asked the coaches if he could move to defensive back, at least for spring.

It looks to have been a good move and LaRue saw plenty of snaps on Saturday. While he's obviously still learning the position and is occasionally out of position the redshirt freshman has shown the athleticism to stick with receivers while running backwards and the physicality needed to play defense. His instincts on the dropped interception were good, he just needs to reel that ball in.

— Watch out for Calvin Green — Green came on late in the spring but, as Leach says, his peers are still worrying about who their prom dates will be. The early enrollee is also adjusting to a positions switch after playing running back in high school and moving to wide receiver at WSU. You'd never know it to watch him because, while he was known for his speed as a recruit, his route running and technique are what appear to be particularly advanced for his age.

Over the last week or so of practices the game seems to have slowed down for him some and the quarterbacks have taken notice, targeting him more and more. On Saturday no receiver had the quarterback's attentions more than Green, who led all receivers with eight receptions and 101 yards, and had a few other balls thrown his way but he and the quarterback were unable to connect.

— Daquawn Brown is good and good to go — After the event cornerback Daquawn Brown told me that his legal troubles were overblown and that he doesn't expect to miss any time because of them. That's good news for the WSU defense because Brown has been the best defensive back for the Cougars, both in practice and on Saturday. He was the only defender to pick off Halliday and he did it twice.

— Theron West and Jamal Morrow will command some touches — Marcus Mason has been limited for most of the spring and did not play in the Crimson and Gray game. While the coaches think highly of Mason and he undoubtedly fits into their plans next season, Morrow and West have been the Cougars' best backs all spring and their play has dictated that they see the field in the fall. Both backs had five carries on Saturday with West gaining 28 yards on the ground and Morrow 44.

West — who was the unexpected surprise of the bowl game after amassing just one carry in the regular season — is WSU's most explosive back, the guy who can catch the ball out of the backfield and immediately dart upfield before a linebacker can stick him. Morrow, a redshirt last season, is probably their most fluid runner right now, a guy who can bounce outside and shake a tackle or two before being dragged down 15 yards later.

— Drew Loftus, River Cracraft and Vince Mayle will get their catches as long as Halliday's the quarterback — Cracraft and Mayle have been the stars of spring since the first practice. After earning Pac-12 honorable mention honors as a true freshman last season Cracraft looks ready to challenge for All-Pac-12 this season. He is nearly always the last player to leave the practice field and kills defenses by knocking out 10-15 chunks on reception after reception. Mayle lost 20 pounds and is still as big a receiver as you'll find, only now he's also one of the fastest guys in the corps. He's been almost unstoppable downfield all spring and showed flashes of that on Saturday. Loftus was Halliday's workout partner in the winter and appears to be one his favorite targets heading into next season. He has a talent for finding soft spots in the defense or slipping behind the secondary, as he did on Saturday for a 22-yard score.

The trio combined for 18 catches (6 each) 256 yards and three touchdowns despite the best day from the WSU secondary we've seen all spring. 


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