Backups get opportunity at WSU scrimmage
PULLMAN – For the second time in the preseason, Washington State held a live scrimmage, this one Wednesday before a smattering of fans at Martin Stadium.
And for the second time the offense dealt the winning hand.
No matter who was on the field.
“We intentionally didn’t play the ones a lot and we held some guys out from playing at all,” WSU coach Paul Wulff said. “We needed to make sure there were a lot of twos and some ones that got a majority of the snaps today.”
Starting quarterback Jeff Tuel played only seven plays, leading the offense on an opening 70-yard drive that included a 36-yard, jump-ball completion to Isiah Barton and a 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Andrei Lintz.
After that the reserves took over for the remainder of the 45-minute, 55-play scrimmage.
“We’re just trying to find more guys to step up and give more guys live opportunities,” Wulff said.
Senior Marshall Lobbestael and redshirt freshman Connor Halliday, battling for the backup quarterback position, played a similar number of snaps and finished with similar statistics.
Lobbestael completed 3 of 5 passes for 24 yards, though the offense didn’t score on his two drives.
Halliday was 5 of 7 for 96 yards, including a 42-yard toss to Kristoff Williams that floated in over cornerback Tracy Clark and nestled in Williams’ outstretched arms. The offense converted two Andrew Furney field goals in the three drives Halliday directed.
“We’re getting to that point in the program where we want to get,” Wulff said, “where we can put anybody in and we’re just playing ball. We’re getting closer.”
The running game also had its moments, mostly delivered by Carl Winston. The junior broke off an 11-yard run and a 9-yard one, faking end Lenard Williams to the ground on the latter.
“We’re executing very well,” Winston said. “A lot of guys are coming out here every day and making big plays. You need big plays and you need big-time players to win.”
The defense had its big plays too, with end Travis Long and reserve tackles Chas Sampson, Steven Hoffart and David Davis coming up with sacks.
But this was a day for the offense, which totaled 259 yards through the air – David Gilbertson was 5 for 5 for 60 yards in one series and one play – and another 74 on the ground, all the while operating at a quicker tempo than usual.
Though it wasn’t quick enough for Wulff, who wants to play “as fast as humanly possible.”
“There will be some times we won’t,” he said, “but our goal is to operate at a level very few people are accustomed to.”