A sampling from the past week of entries in The Spokesman-Review blog SportsLink at spokesman.com/sportslink.
Practice four is in the books for WSU and we saw some good work out of the offense. The defense had some moments as well, but not enough to avoid up-downs.
“I thought they battled back,” coach Mike Leach said after practice. “I thought defense, that’s the biggest thing is everybody’s out here trading blows and the result is everybody gets better, quicker.”
Until Colorado State stormed back for a last-minute victory, Theron West was one of the major storylines of last season’s New Mexico Bowl. The little used Washington State running back had just one carry for 1 yard in the regular season but showed the coaches something in the practices leading up to the bowl game.
Those practices were mostly indoors and closed to the media so we can only speculate what West did to wow his coaches. But the decision to play West paid off in a big way. He had three carries for 17 yards in the bowl game, along with three receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown. He blocked a kick for good measure.
West was at it again during Thursday’s practice with a number of carries and receptions, prompting Leach to declare him currently the team’s most explosive running back after practice.
On one play in 11-on-11’s West caught a pass out of the backfield and appeared to be corralled by the defense, but he juked one defender and cut upfield before the rest could catch up. Linebacker Ivan McClennan got one back for the defense a couple plays later, however, blowing up West near the sideline and forcing a fumble.
Coach Paul Petrino said the Vandals are way ahead of where they were a year ago.
The Vandals have more depth than at any point in the last several years thanks to an infusion of junior-college talent, not to mention a few new grayshirts and redshirt freshmen who can now contribute for real this fall after showcasing their talents during Sunday night scrimmages. Add these pieces together and there’s a different feel in Moscow in Petrino’s second year.
“It’s a lot different,” Petrino said in a UI statement. “It’s a lot more of a comfort level with all the players – them understanding what’s going on; they know how we do things.”
As Petrino indicated late last week, Chad Chalich and Matt Linehan took the same number of snaps. That should continue, even with Chalich’s throwing shoulder getting tired on occasion after his injury last year.
“We’re light years ahead of last year (at QB),” he said. “They’ve both been in the offense for a year. They both did some really good things.”