Washington State's coaches agreed that yesterday's practice left a lot to be desired. They were similarly unanimous (among the ones we asked) that today's was a lot crisper.
Our practice report is after the jump.
While both offensively-inclined coach Mike Leach and defensive coordinator Mike Breske said today's practice was a big improvement, it was pretty clear that Breske's side of the ball had the better day.
During scout period Connor Ennis had passes intercepted by Cyrus Coen and Darius Lemora, while Chester Su'a picked off Peyton Bender.
I should note that today's was the first practice of the year that was closed to media, so there was a lot we couldn't see from our perch. For example, during scout period we could really only adequately watch the No. 1 defense against the scout offense.
"That's one of our deals, takeaways, get our offense back on the field and sometimes they come in droves," Breske said. "Today was one of those days. Those are good things."
Defensive back Jeff Farrar was in pads for the first time today and the coaches wasted no time throwing him into the fire. He ran with the second unit at cornerback – not an indication of where he sits today but simply so the coaches could see what he could do and get some film on him.
"I thought for his first day in shoulder pads, moving around, he did a lot of quality things." Breske said. "A little hesitant, which is understandable, but I think he'll just keep getting better each day."
Breske also addressed the decision to move Teondray Caldwell – who started five games at running back last season – to safety.
"He's an athlete. Teondray's a competitor—he's an athlete and a competitor, we've had a lot of meetings with him and he takes coaching," Breske said. "He's excited and embraced by his teammates. I think he's going to make big plays for us on the back end."
Early on in practice the Cougars had the No. 1 offense and defense line up against each other for a rushing drill, with Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks getting the most reps, although Theron West also saw the ball.
The team went into punt return drills with Marcellus Pippins and River Cracraft alternating returns. Pippins was ran into twice while trying to field the punt, once by someone we couldn't identify due to the black jerseys the coverage teams wear, and once by Pat Porter, drawing the coaches' wrath.
Gabe Mark again wore a yellow jersey and ran with the scout team during seven-on-seven, although even an injured Marks was clearly better than the younsters he was playing with. Going against the starting defense he reeled in a touchdown catch in the front corner of the end zone, despite tight coverage from Darius Lemora and Farrar.
Kickoff drills were next and Kristoff Williams, Jamal Morrow and Theron West were the return men. Morrow muffed a return and Williams had the best two runs of the day, reading his blocks well and charging through before the defenders could converge.
The defense dominated in team period and Xavier Cooper had a pair of sacks. Connor Halliday had Vince Mayle deep downfield on one play but overthrew him, although he came back two plays later with a deep touchdown pass to Rickey Galvin.
Cooper added an interception of his own on a ball that hit Isiah Myers in the chest and popped up.
Tyler Baker was on scout team yesterday but saw lots of time with the twos during team. When Halliday and the offense got close to the end zone the defense again held firm, keeping Drew Loftus out on a five-yard pass, then forcing an incompletion and stuffing a run play. Because this happened on the far side of the field we weren't able to get a good read on who the players involved were.
Kalafitoni Pole had a good day creating pressure in the offensive backfield and clearly got on some nerves, leading to a fight with Jacob Seydel.
Luke Falk took some reps to end practice and played well, completing his first six passes before calling a run play for Gerard Wicks. After that he tossed a touchdown to K. Williams, which was followed by another fight, this time between Robert Barber and B.J. Salmonson.
After the team session the offense had up-downs.
Apart from Marks, Cody O'Connell, Drew Springfield, Brett Bartolone and David Bucannon were limited.