PULLMAN – Washington State football coach Paul Wulff got what he wanted out of Thursday’s night scrimmage before a smattering of fans at Martin Stadium.
The starters got some reps. The new players were able to walk through a typical pregame. There was a touchdown, a field goal, a couple blocked kicks and enough tackles for loss to keep the defenders revved up.
And, maybe most importantly, no one got hurt.
“We’ve never gone to this extent, in terms of going to the whole pregame ritual,” Wulff said, “of what we did today, going all the way back to three hours prior to the scrimmage. … It was good to just go through the routine.
“We actually got a few more live plays in than I thought we would.”
With a little more than a week to go before the 2011 opener at home vs. Idaho State, Wulff decided to limit the starting offense to one series of live tackling against the second defense.
“The No. 1 offense showed a big-play ability with a few of the plays we had for the starters out there that were live,” Wulff said.
That lone live series featured a Marquess Wilson reception for 17 yards and a Rickey Galvin dash for 22 more – all of them coming after he left linebacker Chester Sua grasping at air at the line of scrimmage.
Despite the two big plays, the offense stalled and Andrew Furney had to come on to convert a 27-yard field goal.
The only touchdown of the 54-play, 50-minute scrimmage came on the starting offense’s third and final series. With the defense only having to touch to earn a whistle, Jeff Tuel engineered a nine-play, 65-yard drive, the final 40 yards coming on two plays.
Facing a second-and-12 from the 40, Tuel connected with Wilson on a 19-yard screen pass, a play that left Isiah Barton bemoaning the fact he was open on a post pattern.
So the next play Tuel went to Barton on the same pattern, just on the other side of the formation. It resulted in a 21-yard score.
“We’re starting to use our playmakers more,” said the senior wide receiver, who came to Pullman last year from Fresno City College. “Last year, I wasn’t really involved. I’m starting to get more involved. Coach (Todd Sturdy, offensive coordinator) has been working in more plays to get me the ball.”
Tuel finished the night 4 of 9 for 63 yards and the one score.
The starting defense had its way with the second offense, made even thinner as a handful of players did not play to rest slight injuries.
With pressure coming consistently from tackle Toni Pole – the redshirt freshman had two tackles for loss – the second offense had only one play of more than 8 yards in 15 snaps.
That was a 30-yard pickup on a seam route between Connor Halliday and slot receiver Bennett Bontemps.
Neither Halliday nor Marshall Lobbestael, battling for the backup quarterback spot, had overly impressive nights, with Lobbestael 1 for 3 for 8 yards and Halliday 2 of 6 for 31.
A lot of that was from a lack of time.
“We’re just licking our chops,” said the 6-foot-1, 292-pound Pole, who sat out last season nursing various injuries. “In the back of our minds, we’re really anxious. Anxious to show what the Cougar ‘D’ is really about.”
They’ll get their first chance in nine days.