From Pullman -- The Cougars held their 15th and final spring football practice of the year on Tuesday. That means no more football until fall camp in August. So that's not going to be fun. Our last practice report for far too long is after the jump.
Thanks to a recent rule change the coaches will be able to work with the players for up to eight hours a week during the summer. Two of those hours can be dedicated to film room study. That means that the summer workouts, traditionally organized by the players, will be a little more organized and there will probably be more gains between now and fall camp than in the past.
"I think it's good," coach Mike Leach said. "It helps you keep track of what guys are up to and I think in particular the freshmen, it gives you the opportunity to get them settled in so there is less culture shock."
Still, it doesn't sound like many of the players will go home for more than a week or so in the summer and it will be up to the position group leaders to organize extra work.
"We'll come out and work on position stuff or 7-on-7's. That's pretty much coordinated between me, Connor (Halliday), Xavier (Cooper, Toni (Pole), Tracy Clark, those guys," said linebacker Darryl Monroe. "The leaders of those position groups and we set it up that way."
Tuesday's practice was just like all the 13 other practices that preceded it (the Spring Game was practice No. 14) and the players were not in full pads. A couple new players were limited including Cole Madison who appeared to injure his leg in the Spring Game, but he was walking around just fine. Also limited were receiver Tyler Baker, safety Isaac Dotson and receivers Isiah Myers and Brett Bartolone.
Tana Pritchard didn't appear to be at practice but Leach said that he remains in good standing.
One player who was not limited was receiver Dom Williams, who sat out the Spring Game but looked particularly good on one reception Tuesday, taking short pass and weaving in and out of traffic for a nice gain.
It was an energetic practice. When the Cougars did their usual wide receiver blocking drill cornerback Sebastian LaRue drew praise from coaches for getting around a block to stop the receiver for minimal gain. The drill involves a pair of receivers taking on a pair of defensive backs while a third receiver receives a screen pass and tries to make it past the two defenders. Kristoff Williams is usually pretty good in this drill.
Later the Cougars did an 11-on-11 drill that involved mostly running plays, the highlight of which was a Theron West run in which he darter to the middle, spun back outside to the left and quickly cut upfield. Still, the most impressive part of that particular play was quarterback Connor Halliday lead blocking for West 15 yards past the line of scrimmage. Thankfully, no one was injured.
The Cougars also worked extensively on punts in Tuesday's practice, with Marcellus Pippins having the highlight of the day, splitting a pair of gunners and bursting upfield. Because not all 11 players on the punting team run to tackle the return man it's impossible to say with certainty how far he would have ran the punt back, but it certainly had the look of an explosive play.
A nice play was also made by a player who appeared to be Colton Teglovic (many of the players wore black jerseys obscuring their numbers) who forcefully blocked Wes Concepcion's punt. However, on the next play Concepcion booted a punt about 55 yards downfield; it might have been the furthest all spring.
A couple plays later long snapper Alex Den Bleyker sailed a ball over Concepcion's head.
Halliday was particularly sharp during 7-on-7's, completing 14 of 20 passes with three touchdowns to the usual suspects: Drew Loftus, Kristoff Williams and another to K. Williams. Another pass hit River Cracraft 7-8 yards short of the goal line and looked like it could have been a touchdown in a game had Cracraft really fought for the yardage.
"It was good, best spring I've ever been a part of here," Halliday said. "The talent is unlike anything I've ever seen here and we've got guys that can play some football so it's an exciting time in Pullman." When asked what receivers had improved the most he replied:
"Robert Lewis did definitely. Vince Mayle as you know is a completely different player as last year. Kristoff has just continued to make strides."
Tyler Bruggman took the backup reps and went 8 of 13, hitting K. Williams for a touchdown from five yards out after the receiver dropped a touchdown on the previous play.
The secondary really came on in the 11-on-11 period, however, mimicking their success from the Spring Game. Halliday handled it OK, going 8 of 14 with a touchdown to Rickey Galvin, although Daquawn Brown broke up a pair of his passes on the way.
But Bruggman struggled and seemed to press as the drill went out. After a pair of completions to running backs Teondray Caldwell and Jamal Morrow (who each had a couple of really nice runs on the day as well) he threw a head-scratching interception to Peyton Pelluer, who appeared to be the only player in the area.
Darryl Paulo sacked the freshman quarterback on the next play, and after a pair of completions he was sacked again, this time by Chester Su'a. He was intercepted twice more in the drill, first by Tracy Clark and then by David Bucannon. Bruggman finished 8 of 14, ending the drill on a swing pass to Teondray Caldwell who scored from about 10 yards out. He also hit Kristoff Williams for a touchdown from about the 33 yard line earlier in the drill.