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One more week

Eastern Washington kicks off the college football season in just a couple days and we're only one week away from Cougar football. So what better time to preview the college football season? Are we really starting a new season, however? Or just starting the game-playing portion of a season that never stops? In the paper today our college football preview looks at 24/7/365 enterprise that is college football.

That and more are after the jump.

To redshirt or not to redshirt

Redshirting freshmen – having them sit their first year in exchange for a fifth-year of eligibility – is often considered a sign of a healthy program. After all, you are in effect trading a player's worst season for their best one.

However, if no true freshmen play than a school probably isn't recruiting enough high-impact guys. What's the point of redshirting a guy who is going to head to the NFL before his fifth season?

Still, you'd rather redshirt more players than not, giving young guys a year in the weight room and to adjust to college life.

In Mike Leach's first season at Washington State the Cougars played nine true freshmen, and won three games. Last season they played just five first-year players and won six.

We won't know for sure how many freshmen will play this season until its conclusion, but let's take a look at the most likely candidates after the jump.

Live WSU Football Chat

 

Try Relay: the free SMS and picture text app for iPhone.

 

Give the defensive line a break

Destiny Vaeao, Toni Pole and Xavier Cooper probably won't play as much for Washington State this season, and that's a good thing. Why it's a good thing is the subject for our story in today's paper.

More links after the jump.

*We'll be holding our weekly live WSU football chat today at 11 a.m.

Big plays abound at WSU practice

“Intense and sloppy … kind of an exchange of big plays,” were the words coach Mike Leach used to describe today's underclassmen scrimmage, which they're still calling Thursday Night Football.

He was absolutely right.

We'll describe those big plays and more, after the jump.

Tyler Hilinski signs with WSU

With the above tweet the Washington State football program made official the financial aid agreement signed today by prep quarterback Tyler Hilinski. The NCAA allows student athletes that are able to graduate high school early to sign with schools well before national signing day in February, and to enroll in time for spring football. 

Last spring Calvin Green and Sean Krepsz took advantage of this rule and participated in spring football after finishing up their high school careers ahead of schedule.

More on Hilinski after the jump.

 

WSU linebackers a veteran bunch

How experienced is Washington State's linebacking corps? Even the backups have starts under their belt. The Cougars' deep linebacking corps is the subject of our story in today's paper.

More links after the jump.

WSU secondary learning quickly

The dorms in Pullman are open again and students are trickling back onto campus. School doesn't start for another week at Washington State but the football team's young defensive backs are studying hard for their first big test. That's the subject of our third WSU position preview.

Follow the jump for more links.

WSU practice a bit sloppy

There was a lot going on at practice today. The Pac-12 Networks were in town filming and Rick Neuheisel took a keen interest in what the Cougars were doing, observing the drills closely, particularly the ones involving quarterbacks.

The Cougars also made use of the scout teams against the first string for the first time, which always creates some confusion. After practice coach Mike Leach had a bucket of water dumped on him for a good cause, which you can watch here.

The coaches acknowledged that there are always a few dud practices at this time of the year. But that doesn't mean they're happy about it.

“I didn't think it was a very good practice. I thought we started out pretty good, didn't do a good job of finishing practice,” Leacj said. “Today was the first day we traded scouts so sometimes, a lot of times that has an impact. It shouldn't, it shouldn't but yeah I thought both sides were soft in the team period. Prior to that I thought we were doing some good things but we have to be better than that tomorrow.”

More after the jump.

Mike Leach after practice

After practice Mike Leach cooled off before speaking to reporters by taking part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The video is below and the highlights of Leach's interview with reporters are transcribed after the jump.

 

Sunday morning Pac-12 links

Good morning, everyone. I hope you were able to sleep in today or had an otherwise productive morning. If not you can make up for it by reading our Pac-12 links and catching up on all the conference happenings, after the jump.

WSU’s new specialists

The Washington State coaches value special teams pretty highly. All coaches do to some degree, of course, and all will say that it's a third of the game, etc. Still, many coaches see coverage teams as a place to stick second string players, and save their starters for use on offense or defense. Maybe they're worried about injuries, or maybe they think a player whose only chance to make a play is on special teams will find just a little something extra in themselves to really blow up the ballcarrier.

Not the Cougars. In the words of Mike Leach, “Best players play. If you can't start on offense and you can't start on defense then you better have a good reason for being able to start on special teams.”

The Cougars will have new starters on special teams this season, at least they will at kicker, punter and punt returner. Our first 2014 position preview takes a look at the replacements.

More links are after the jump.

Cougars practice in Pullman

Washington State held its first Pullman practice of the 2014 season at 8 p.m. tonight. The practice took on the dual roles of a Sunday night postgame practice – the Rutgers game is on a Thursday so Friday is effectively Sunday now – and a Thursday practice, with the underclassmen scrimmaging at the end.

Our practice report is just a click away.

… 

Lunchtime Links: Meanwhile, in China …

While most of Pullman has been gearing up for fall sports season, DaVonte Lacy and the Pac-12 All-Stars have been barnstorming around China and beating up on professional teams. The All-Stars are 2-0, both blowout victories, and Lacy has been a solid contributor averaging 6.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and three assists per game.

The All-Stars will face their toughest test tomorrow in the Shanghai Sharks, former NBA All-Star Yao Ming's old team that he now owns. The Sharks have a couple former American college basketball stars in Quincy Douby and Darnell Jackson, so the All-Stars should get a good test. Unfortunately, it appears that the team will no longer face the Guandong Southern Tigers and former NBA lottery pick Yi Jianlian.

We have a couple links to pass along after the jump.

WSU players get their play books, er, tablets

Washington State linebackers coach Ken Wilson tweeted out a photo of the new iPads the Cougars are using. The tablet devices can presumably be used by players to watch cut up videos of plays, rather than simply looking at diagrams.

 

A needed break

After 12 straight days of covering football practice I know I'm starting to lose my legs, so I can only imagine how Washington State's players and coaches must feel. The kickers certainly looked a little wobbly yesterday, and maybe the defense could use a break, too (except the freshmen defensive linemen that is, those kids looked like they'd had a little too much sugar).

But we all made it through fall camp in Lewiston, Idaho no worse for wear. In fact, apart from one apparent head injury to Gabe Marks and some bumps and bruises along the offensive line and secondary, the Cougars Sacajawea Junior High with their health intact, which can't be said of a lot of schools.

Anyways, the links are after the jump.

Cougars end camp in Lewiston with a scrimmage

Washington State ended its Lewiston fall camp with an 85-play scrimmage on Wednesday and both sides had plenty to crow about afterwards. Running backs Gerard Wicks and Jamal Morrow had big days, so did Connor Halliday. 

Still, the defense totaled eight sacks, a couple big hits and an interception.

Read more after the jump.

Mike Leach post-scrimmage quotes

(Can you evaluate the offense's play in the scrimmage?)

I thought our first offense really played well and then, understandably, our second offense had their hands full with the first defense. It was good seeing them get some big plays but we were disjointed at times. The threes got good work, too, and I thought a couple of the running backs did some good things.

More after the jump.

Live WSU Football Chat

 

Try Relay: the free SMS and picture text app for iPhone.

 

WSU’s time in Lewiston comes to a close

Washington State's fall camp in Lewiston, Idaho wraps up today with a scrimmage at 3 p.m. at Sacajawea Junior High. The Cougars braved heat, smoke and lightning to practice for 12 consecutive days. Let's celebrate their accomplishment with some links.

(We'll be holding a live WSU football chat here on SportsLink at 11 a.m.)

WSU finds calm in storm, holds practice

One day after smoke sent the Cougars back to Pullman, the Lewiston weather appeared to bend to coach Mike Leach's will on Tuesday. The day's rain disappeared as soon as Washington State began practicing and lightning appeared just when the post practice interviews started running long.

Never doubt how much power college football coaches can exert for their program.

Our practice report is after the jump.

Videos from WSU fall camp

Here are videos of two drills the Cougars run during practice.

The second video is after the jump.

WSU adds a 2014 safety

Although last year's recruits are in camp and Washington State's 2015 recruiting class appears to be well under way, the Cougars weren't quite finished with the class of 2014. The team announced the late signing of safety Jeffery Farrar to a financial aid agreement on Tuesday. The 6-foot-1, 195 pound safety out of Upland High in Upland, California signed with Virginia out of high school, over scholarship offers from Arizona, Arizona State, and other schools.

Although Farrar signed a binding National Letter of Intent, WSU says that he is eligible to play immediately. Even if he doesn't redshirt, he'll presumably need some time to get ready after missing fall camp. Farrar is expected to enroll and begin class later this month.

Farrar was rated a four-star prospect by ESPN. 

The show must go on

Today's practice will be the second-to-last of Washington State's fall camp in Lewiston. It will be held at Sacajawea Junior High at 2:30 p.m. unless it isn't. The following links will explain why, and more.

Weather chases Cougars to Pullman

There was a time, today, when Bud Withers and I thought we might be late for practice. It seems silly now, but you see, but construction crews were doing something called “chip sealing” on US-195 South, shutting down all but one lane, forcing Bud and I to spend upwards of 15 minutes stalled outside of Colton watching the wheat grow.

Little did we know that unsealed chips would be the least of our troubles.

Follow the jump for our thrilling conclusion.

Some big cleats to fill

Washington State fans watched a few of their favorites move on from college this offseason. No matter how the Cougars do this season, safety Deone Bucannon will be missed and so will kicker Andrew Furney. Our story in today's paper looks at Erik Powell, the guy tasked with following Furney. More links after the jump.

A return to normalcy

After a pair of shortened practices — one for rest, one for scrimmage — Washington State resumed its normal camp schedule on Sunday. The offensive line took a more familiar form as well with the return of Joe Dahl at left tackle, who had been limited most of this week. Dahl's return slid Gunnar Eklund back to his familiar role at left guard, and Devonte McClain, who had also been limited, returned to bolster the depth.

Quarterback Connor Halliday celebrated their return by torching the defense during team period. All that and more, after the jump.

A big day for WSU football

I didn't get to this with yesterday's scrimmage, but lots of recruiting outlets are reporting that 6-foot-5, 300 pound offensive lineman Noah Myers out of Las Lomas High in Walnut Creek, California has verbally committed to play football for Washington State. Myers, whose highlight video is above, also claimed scholarship offers from Montana and Weber State.

Myers is the 12th player in the class of 2015 to pledge his services to WSU. He told Barry Bolton that he will probably play guard ($) for the Cougars. Scout.com rates Myers as a three star prospect and considers him to be the No. 91 guard in the class.

Links from WSU's scrimmage and from around the conference, after the jump.

Notes from WSU’s scrimmage

Washington State went live for the first time since fall camp began in a 62-play scrimmage on Saturday. The defense probably had the upper hand overall but it was close. Unless, of course, you ask linebacker Darryl Monroe, that is.

“Since we've been out here I think we won pretty much every day,” Monroe said after practice. “Which is great, because when you've got a lot of young guys coming in on this defense you think, 'Oh, their competition level (isn't good),' or they can get intimidated at the college level but these guys came to play with high competition and intensity.”

Stats are here, quotes are here and some observations are after the jump.