PULLMAN – Like a coin rolling over and over in midair, there are always two sides to an intrasquad scrimmage.
But as far as Washington State football coach Paul Wulff could see Saturday, everything was coming up heads.
“After eight practices, pretty clean in a lot of ways,” Wulff said of his team’s 60-play scrimmage played under clear skies at Martin Stadium. “Our defense forced some turnovers, which is good to see, but on the flip side our offense fumbled it. … There were some plays made in the run and passing game, and the same thing, I thought at times we got some pressure on the quarterback.
“There were some missed tackles and things, but after eight practices, I’m pretty darn pleased.”
With the starting quarterback position still open, senior Kevin Lopina did all he could to earn the nod. Splitting time between the first and second teams with sophomore Marshall Lobbestael, Lopina completed all six of his passes for 94 yards. He also accounted for the lone touchdown, teaming with tight end Zach Tatman for a 22-yard completion down the middle.
Lobbestael was 4 of 7 for 32 yards – though one throw was dropped – while freshman Jeff Tuel, running the third offense against the third defense, was 5 of 6 for 75 yards. Sophomore J.T. Levenseller was sick and didn’t participate.
“I felt good,” Lopina said. “I felt healthy. Being out there with ones and twos … I felt like I performed pretty well.”
Lopina was quick to praise the offensive line, which gave him and Lobbestael plenty of time on most passing plays. They also got off the ball well enough for the top three running backs – Dwight Tardy, James Montgomery and Logwone Mitz – to combine for 69 yards on 14 carries.
But the defense had its moments as well, especially up front. The three groups had six sacks, earned by getting close to the yellow, or non-contact, jersey-wearing quarterbacks.
Toby Turpin and Casey Hamlett set the tone with one each on the first possession, then freshman Travis Long killed the starting offense’s first drive with another on third-and-7.
Hamlett has been a pleasant surprise since transferring to WSU after Division II Western Washington dropped its program after last season. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound junior ascended to the top of the depth chart at right end early in camp and he showed why.
“Once I got here and started to get into the fold, I felt confident that I could play at this level,” Hamlett said. “I had a good spring and that’s when I kind of knew it’s not like two different sports, you know?
“I didn’t really know, coming from Western. There will be more people at our first game than all our games combined last year.”