WSU practice: Morris says Ratliff must step up
FROM PULLMAN — One quarterback took most of the reps during Washington State's practice today. But he didn't take all of them. We have that, plus a conversation with inside receivers coach Eric Morris, after the jump. Read onward.
The quarterback taking the bulk of the reps was Connor Halliday (here's an interesting radio interview with him, by the way), though I'm not sure how surprising that is at this point. Jeff Tuel is still wearing a brace and took some reps, too, appearing to throw the ball fine for the most part. His mobility, from what we've seen, doesn't look too bad, though it can be hard to tell because the quarterbacks don't do a whole lot of moving outside of their throwing drills, and even then it's fairly limited. There are two more practices before the game, and if we've learned anything from Leach in this regard, it's that he wants his starting quarterback to be the guy who takes the most reps during practice. Not saying it isn't possible for him to deviate from that, but the next two days should tell us a little more about who we might see starting on Saturday.
… As expected, Rickey Galvin was again absent from practice, and likely won't participate for some time, presumably due to injury based on his departure from Friday's game and his removal from the depth chart. Inside receivers coach Eric Morris would only say that Galvin is "doing just fine," which is to be expected per WSU's injury policy.
But Morris did say that redshirt sophomore Bobby Ratliff, who is now listed as the starter at H receiver, will have to step up in Galvin's absence.
"It’s an exciting time for him and I have a lot of confidence in him that he’ll step in and he’ll do really good," Morris said. "He’s going to catch a lot of balls around here and he’ll do a lot better blocking, and he’s someone that’s come on. He’s got a bigger body than most of the guys at inside receiver we’re playing right now, so we’re looking for him to be a physical presence."
Ratliff has lined up at tight end a couple of times, too, something both Leach and Morris say they like to do because of his size.
"It’s hard for defenses because they don’t know what personnel you’re putting in the game," Morris said. "They can go double-tight or it could be ace with him and (Andrei) Lintz in the game, which is four wide. It’s tough on them to personnel it and know what we’re in, but it’s definitely a positive to have kids that are versatile like that."
Morris said he's not worried about Lintz's production, either, despite the fact that freshman Brett Bartolone has earned the starting spot at Y receiver.
"Andrei’s gonna be fine," Morris said. "He’s gonna be fine. He’s a kid that’s really conscious of what’s going on and he understands ,and he’s done a lot of good things around here. We’ve got to do a better job of finding ways to get him the ball, but he’s still a very key part to this team, a very valuable part to this team and he’s gone some good jobs. People don’t see him on special teams doing a good job, they don’t see him blocking down in the trenches, so he’s done a good job so hopefully we can get him the ball a little bit more so he can lower his pads and be some trouble on defenders."
Of note: OL Dan Spitz missed practice yet again. He hasn't practiced since the Eastern Washington game. Leach said Spitz is tending to personal issues and that he expects him back this week, though he is not listed on the depth chart.