WSU chips away on Day 4

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Things got a little heated on more than one occasion at Washington State's spring practice Thursday, though nothing too outlandish went down. Otherwise, things were pretty standard. Read on.


Well, not totally standard. The Cougars were without senior safety Deone Bucannon for the last half of practice, as he walked out with the training staff about midway through. Couldn't tell what happened. Bucannon was on the sidelines without his shoulder pads on for a while, then put them back on before it was decided he needed further evaulation elsewhere. Of course, injuries are not discussed, so this may be a wait-and-see situation. … Tweeted this news earlier, but linebacker Darren Markle has been removed from the roster and is no longer with the team. Markle struggled with injuries and didn't play last season. … On the injury front, the same group of players sat out — Logan Mayes, Jake Rodgers, Brent Anderson, Feddie Davey, Alex Jackson, Robert Barber and Chester Su'a. And Mansel Simmons remains out, as well.

… We mentioned it was chippy. The first notable instance of such chippiness occurred when junior quarterback Connor Halliday became visibly upset at walk-on receiver Willie Roach over what Halliday thought, apparently, was a particularly egregious dropped pass (or maybe a couple of them. I was watching the other side of the field and didn't see anything until the yelling started). The two exchanged, uh, words — though Halliday's were much louder — and had to be separated after they exchanged shoves, too. But that was all it was. … There was also a minor skirmish on the last play of team session, which ended on an Austin Apodaca touchdown pass. It's all in the competition, defensive coordinator Mike Breske said afterward. “Coach (Mike Leach) is big about winning our individual battles, and there’a  lot of individual battles going on. You’re going to have that,” Breske said.

… It appears freshman Robert Lewis will be given every chance to earn some playing time at receiver. He's getting quite a few reps through the first four days of practice, and his shiftiness continues to be a problem for WSU's defensive backs. … There seemed to be more “explosive” plays, as Leach might call them, on both sides of the ball today. Isiah Myers went high to make a nice catch in the end zone on a pass from Halliday, though Damante Horton earlier broke up a pass thrown by Halliday to Myers near the sideline on an out-route. Darryl Monroe got the better of Theron West on a swing pass — and by “got the better of,” I mean he hit him immediately after the ball arrived and with great force — and Cyrus Coen made a nice play on an inside receiver screen pass to Kristoff Williams that wound up losing yards. … Halliday's best throw of the day might have been a short fade to Bobby Ratliff that wound up a touchdown, and Apodaca tossed a long pass down the right sideline for Gabe Marks — albeit amid busted coverage — that went for a long gain before David Bucannon finally caught up with Marks and brought him down, as Breske shouted irritated encouragement about not giving up on the play. … There's still a lot of experimentation going on with personnel. For example, the offensive line at times featured, from left to right, Jacob Seydel, John Fullington, Zach Brevick, Denzell Dotson and Eduardo Middleton. And, at times, you saw Gunnar Eklund, Joe Dahl, Elliott Bosch, Matt Goetz and Rico Forbes playing together. Niu Sale had a bunch of reps on Tuesday. So what we're seeing is true to what Clay McGuire said on Tuesday: they're going to give a bunch of guys a bunch of opportunities to prove themselves, and continue to breed competition. That goes back to the increased depth they have there. … Plenty of shuffling defensively, too. Ivan McLennan and Kache Palacio are locked in a nice little battle at the buck linebacker spot with Mayes sidelined. Sophomore linebacker Jeremiah Allison is another guy who could play a lot more on defense this year. Breske said he's been most impressed by the strength and improved physique of WSU's defensive linemen — Xavier Cooper, Junior Gauta, Toni Pole and Matthew Bock are about where you'd expect them.

That's all for now.

Christian Caple can be reached at christianc@spokesman.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple

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