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Morning links: Middleton solidifies the right side of WSU’s offensive line

In today's paper we have a story about Eduardo Middleton, the right guard who has emerged as one of WSU's steadiest players.

You can read that here.

And here on SportsLink, we've got a practice report and videos of Mike Leach, Clay McGuire, Riley Sorenson and Cole Madison speaking after yesterday's practice.

The Pac-12 Blog has a WSU season preview that's worth checking out.

Stefanie Loh (a former S-R intern) is in Lewiston and will cover the Cougars for the Seattle Times. Here is her introductory article. In the paper we've also got an excerpt from last week's live chat. And here is a practice report from the school's website.

On to the links.

— The Arizona Wildcats are willing to try anything to win, even yoga.

— In Tempe, the quarterback competition is for the backup spot.

— A former California football player is suing the team.

— The Colorado backups were the star attractions in yesterday's scrimmage.

— Oregon's offensive line went into the woods to bond.

— After a lot of hard work, Marcus McMaryion is making some noise in OSU's quarterback competition.

— UCLA will have to find its quarterback in the second half of preseason camp.

— Don't worry, USC has yet another star freshman.

— Make sure to read this story about former Washington football player Craig Noble.

WSU practice notes: Scrimmage tomorrow

Washington State had a short practice on Saturday that lasted only an hour and a half. But on Sunday the Cougars will hold their only scrimmage of preseason camp.

The scrimmage is open to the public and will likely begin 45 minutes or so after practice starts at 2:30. We'll of course have coverage of the scrimmage here on SportsLink.

For now, here are some notes from WSU's abridged practice:

— Matt Abramo was the kicker in today's practice and he went 4-of-5. His miss came from about 40-yards and looked short and to right of the goal post, but then he sneaked a 47-yarder over the crossbar.

— The Cougars still got a full complement of special teams drills done during practice and Kyrin Priester showed the most explosiveness returning both punts and kickoffs.

— C.J. Dimry, Dylan Hanser T.J. Fehoko and Tyler Baker were limited during Saturday's practice. Charleston White did not appear to be at practice. With White not participating, true freshman Darrien Molton ran with the 1s at cornerback opposite Marcellus Pippins.

— Pippins and Jeremiah Allison are the vocal leaders of the defense, always talking to their teammates before the snap. Pippins is a bit of a smack talker, but he's got a real positive, upbeat bent to his exhortations. Even when he's yelling at a freshman, there's generally an air of encouragement and he frequently dispenses advice to the other cornerbacks.

— Frankie Luvu is a player that Mike Leach has mentioned the last couple times somebody has asked him about players who have stood out in camp, and he was very active during the skeleton drill. As a freshman last season, Luvu was moved to the Buck position but now he's taking reps at inside linebacker.

— The offensive highlight of the skeleton drill was a catch Gabe Marks made with Molton draped on him in the end zone on a pass from Peyton Bender. Both players went up for the ball and both got their hands on it, but Marks ripped the football away from the freshman mid-air to come down with the touchdown reception.

Tavares Martin Jr. also showed some wheels during the drill, catching a short pass near the sideline and getting 15 or 20 yards upfield before the defense could catch up.

I also noticed running back James Williams getting into the mix a bit. In case you missed it, here is our story on the talented freshman's recovery from an injury he suffered his senior year of high school.

— It was an interesting team period for Luke Falk, who took over with a lead after Peyton Bender's session and lost it. Twice. But both times he recovered and ended the session with three completed passes, two of them to Dom Williams for touchdowns.

Bender's session started with a screen pass to Priester on the left side of the field. With nothing in front of him, Priester cut horizontally across the field, giving up yards to avoid a few tacklers and making it to the opposite sideline, gaining nearly 10 yards on the play.

The next play was a pass to Kyle Sweet, who used a nice dance move on Henry Parker to create some space, jabbing his foot forward then popping backwards. Parker was able to adjust and make the tackle, however. Then Bender completed a 25 or 30 yard pass down the sideline to Gabe Marks.

Perhaps the day's finest play, however was made by Daniel Lilienthal after Bender was flushed out of the pocket and lofted a pass toward the end zone while running backward. Molton seemed in position to make the interception but the bigger receiver climbed the proverbial ladder to make the catch over Molton's head.

Falk stumbled out the gate thanks to a heavy pass rush, throwing his first pass away, getting sacked  on the third play (by Luvy). Then, Pippins intercepted his next pass, tying the score between the offense and defense at 12 with a third down coming up. Falk found Marks on a crossing route and the receiver sped past the sticks to give the offense some breathing room. But when Gerard Wicks was stuffed on third and short and Falk was sacked by Hercules Mata'afa a play later, the score was tied again. But Falk again rose to the challenge, hitting Williams for a touchdown on a slant.

Morning links: WSU linebackers big and small

Washington State's heaviest inside linebacker has 40 pounds on the lightest one. The coaches love that.

WSU's versatility at the defense's second level leads our notebook from yesterday's practice, which also features a position switch and a receiver's eligibility. We also have our daily report from practice and videos of Mike Leach and Ken Wilson.

It was a productive day for the Cougars, who also secured a commitment from a quarterback recruit.

Former WSU baseball player Ben Roberts is playing football for Montana. It doesn't look like Thomas Toki will join the WSU football team until spring semester. Mike Leach described his first job to ESPN.

Pac-12 notes:

— Arizona's Anu Solomon wants to be a leader despite his youth.

— Arizona State's position battles could be settled shortly.

— Wake Forest transfer James Looney hopes to shore up the Golden Bears defense.

— Colorado is finally playing in pads.

— Oregon running back Thomas Tyner is injured but not going anywhere.

— Oregon State corner Larry Scott sees benefits in meditation.

— Christian McCaffrey is all set to be the next Stanford star.

— The son of the D-O-double-G won't be playing at the UCLA.

— USC football took a trip to the movies.

— Utah's offense is not a finished product.

WSU practice notes: Defense steps up

It was a mostly one-sided affair as soon as the team split up for drills, with the defensive backs smothering the wide receivers in the WR vs. DB drill, leading to 10 up-downs for the offense. There were a few impressive performances by the receivers – Zaire Andre had a good day and the freshman duo of Kyle Sweet and Tavares Martin Jr. just keeps getting better – but as a unit the receivers struggled to gain separation from the defenders.

Marcellus Pippins has been matched up with Dom Williams a lot lately and the senior receiver has been winning most of the battles. But Pippins got the best of him on consecutive reps, staying on the receiver's hip and sticking an arm into Williams' breadbasket to knock the football away.

— Speaking of receivers, we're going to take a little break here to provide an update on the Kyrin Priester appeal. Normally, the receiver would need to sit out a year after transferring from another FBS school. But it appears the Cougars are asking for a "run-off waiver," which allows athletes that have transferred because would no longer have the opportunity to play at their previous school to avoid sitting out a year before playing for their new team. Priester was dismissed from the Clemson football team, meaning he would be eligible for the waiver if WSU can provide the NCAA with documentation demonstrating he could not return to Clemson and play, proof that Priester is in good academic standing at WSU and a written statement from Clemson indicating that it supports the waiver request.

Page No. 15 of this document contains the official NCAA guidelines for the waiver.

So, it is indeed very likely that Priester will be able to play for the Cougars this fall and he figures to make an immediate impact as a wide receiver and probably as a return man.

— Anyway, back to practice. Brett Schafer took the reps as field goal kicker today and had a rough go of it. Two of his kicks were blocked, two missed to the left and he finished 1-of-5 with a long of 30. Wide receiver Kaleb Fossum was his holder.

— Still no Thomas Toki. Cougfan.com tweeted that he will be delaying his enrollment until January.  But Calvin Green returned to practice and was wearing a white jersey. Mike Leach confirmed after practice that he is practicing as a defensive back, although it has not been decided whether he will play cornerback, safety or nickel. Green will still have to wait the required acclimation practices before he can wear pads.  Also at practice was Quentin Breshears, who I had not yet seen at practice.

I also didn't see long snapper Amosa Sakaria, who has been limited in previous practices. The limited players on Friday were C.J. Dimry, Destiny Vaeao and Dylan Hanser.

— Chandler Leniu may be big – linebackers coach Ken Wilson told me he's around 250-pounds right now – but he's kept his speed. He showed some impressive burst to catch Keith Harrington from behind in the backfield.

— The defense made things tough for quarterback Peyton Bender, who was under constant pressure and unofficially completed 6 of 15 passes with a pair of interceptions. The first came at the hands of Reggie Coates, who was up on the line of scrimmage to rush the passer and stuck a mitt up when Pender tried to complete a quick pass, knocking the ball to himself. The second interception was made by Parker Henry. Bender did settle into a rhythm midway through the session, completing three consecutive passes including a touchdown pass to John Thompson.

— Luke Falk had more success, completing five of his first six passes. Keith Harrington fumbled the ball after one of those passes, however, and safety Isaac Dotson nailed Gerard Wicks in the backfield on a run play. Darius Lemora broke up a pass and Ivan McLennan sacked Falk, but the offense broke things open when Falk found Gabe Marks on the sideline. Marks shook free of Kirkland Parker, who was grabbing the receiver's facemask, while making the catch and then scooted into the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown. Marks almost had a second touchdown when he sat in a space in front of the end zone on a mesh route but was stopped short by Peyton Pelluer. Falk then found River Cracraft for the score.

Texas quarterback commits to WSU

Cody Brewer, a towering quarterback from Flour Bluff High in Corpus Christi, Texas, accepted a scholarship offer from WSU today.

Brewer, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound senior, takes the place of Ian Book, who had previously accepted a scholarship to play quarterback for WSU but recently announced his decision to attend Notre Dame, instead.

As you can see in the video below, Brewer has a pretty strong arm, throwing a few 50-yard balls with pretty good velocity. It helps to have long arms.

Besides being the tallest quarterback Mike Leach has recruited to WSU, Brewer also appears to be a pretty good athlete, holding scholarship offers to both football and basketball from Houston Baptist, Texas A&M Kingsville and Sam Houston State, according to Braulio Perez of Cougfan.com

With Brewer's commitment, there are now 10 players that have publicly accepted football scholarships at WSU in the class of 2016.

Here's a highlight video:

Morning links: James Williams impressing WSU coaches

James Williams may not be a major factor in the Washington State offense yet. But the freshman running back has the coaches raving.

Williams is the subject of our story in today’s paper. On the blog we have a practice report and videos of Mike Leach, Jamal Morrow, Peyton Pelluer and Williams. Oregon was the big winner yesterday with the news that former Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams will be able to join the team. Jim Allen has more.

  

WSU practice notes: Thunderstruck Cougars

The thunderclaps that rocked resonated over the Sacajawea Junior High fields provided an awesome accompaniment to WSU's practice.

The lightning, however, proved problematic. The NCAA recommends (strongly) that players and coaches leave the field and enter a safe site (in this case the SJH gymnasium) by the time the time lighting is within six miles of the practice or game sight. (Or, about 30 seconds or less between seeing lightning and hearing thunder). Teams are then told to wait at least 30 minutes from the last lightning strike before returning to the field.

So, with monstrous raindrops coming down in the 100-plus degree heat a cacophony of thunder all around, the Cougars took a break. Coach Mike Leach didn't seem to mind much, saying afterward that the team treated it like halftime and that he felt the players responded well to the unexpected disruption.

When we weren't dodging three-fluid-ounce raindrops, here's what we saw at practice:

— To my mind, Gabe Marks had his best practice of preseason camp. When he's locked in – I'm not sure he has been every practice – he's able to get separation on virtually every play, and he sure didn't make the WR vs. DB drill for Marcellus Pippins. Even when Pippins stayed with him, Marks seemed to find a way to make the play. Such as one play when he slid, high school baseball style into the end zone while using his fingertips to reel in a pass and secure the football against his hip.

— Erik Powell took all the field goal attempts during today's practice, hitting from about 22, 27, 37, 42 and 47 yards. He also made a kick to end practice with the knowledge that every player but he would have to run if he missed.

— Still some missing players for the Cougars: Barry Ware, Treshon Broughton, Calvin Green, Thomas Toki still aren't in Lewiston from what I can see. I didn't see T.J. Fehoko, either, but he's been around. The limited players were C.J. Dimry, Brett Schafer, Dylan Hanser, Matt Abramo and Destiny Vaeao.

— With Vaeao somewhat limited, Hercules Mata'afa took reps as the first team defensive end during the team period.

— Tavares Martin Jr. made a nice play during the skelly drill on a crossing route, weaving back toward the line of scrimmage to avoid a defender and showing enough speed to ruin the pursuit angles of other nearby defenders.

— Peyton Bender's first pass of team period was an interception, but it wasn't his fault. Bender's pass bounced off the hands of receiver Kyle Sweet, was batted up in the air by safety Hunter Dale and caught by linebacker Chandler Leniu. Bender's response to the interception was impressive, however. Two plays later he saw Tyler Baker blaze past Dale in the middle of the field and lofted a high-arcing pass into his hands for what would have been a long touchdown. Leniu broke up the next pass, and Bender completed his next five. Later, after Parker Kirkland broke up a pass and Kyrin Priester dropped another, Bender threw touchdown passes to Jamal Morrow and Baker, who found a space between defenders in the back of the end zone just wide enough for Bender to squeeze the ball through.

— The first team offensive line struggled a bit during Luke Falk's session, giving up two sacks and getting called for a false start. When Falk did have time, he hit his marks, such as a nice pass to Robert Lewis on a post route after the receiver shook Shalom Luani with a quick fake. He also found Dom Williams for a touchdown from about 25-yards out and tossed another scoring pass to Gerard Wicks. 

Morning links: Robert Lewis has big game

Big blocks and big catches have so far defined the career of Washington State receiver Robert Lewis.

He's the subject of today's story in the paper. We've also got plenty of blog fare for you to chew on, including a practice report, chat transcript, and videos of Mike Leach, Jim Mastro, Peyton Bender, Kyle Sweet and Lewis.

The S-R's own Jim Camden has a story about the state's highest paid employees, and Leach tops the list. I missed this yesterday, but thanks to Vince for noticing this story by Rob Rang about a few players' NFL prospects. The Pac-12 Blog wrote about the conference's fourth-year coaches, a group that includes Leach. Here's the practice report from the school website.

WSU practice notes: WSU files Priester appeal

Mike Leach told reporters after WSU's fifth practice that they have filed an appeal to let Kyrin Priester play immediately. If it is successful, Priester could make an immediate impact.

Priester showed again on Wednesday why he would be such a big addition to the 2015 team. His strength and speed have been noticed, but what really jumps out is how he seems to always make the contested catch. He was well covered on three or four routes today, but he never signaled to the defender when the ball was near with his body until it was nearly past the two of them, then at the last moment he would whip his hands around the ball while holding off the defensive back. He's also very good with the ball in his hands and, if eligible, he and Dom Williams would give the Cougars two high-level players at the X receiver position.

— At the H receiver position, freshman Kyle Sweet appears to be getting a long look at the No. 2 spot behind Robert Lewis. While I think the coaches will want to keep Lewis—who Leach called one of the team's best blockers—on the field as much as possible, it still appears that Sweet will see time as a freshman. So far, it looks like Sweet runs good routes and can do some damage in the open field after the catch. Another freshman receiver Leach noted was Tavares Martin Jr., who has been playing at the Z receiver position.

— Wednesday's practice was WSU's first in full pads and the Cougars celebrated after practice. While the players knelt at midfield and listened to the coaches, an ice cream truck playing the WSU fight song drove onto the field, eventually parking on the track so that players could grab a cool snack after the hot practice.

— Not a great day for the kickers, Erik Powell and Brett Schafer. Powell hit the goal post on a miss from 20-yards and also missed from 41-yards to go 3-5 with a long of 45-yards. That being said, Vince Grippi (he came to Lewiston!) and I agreed that the 45-yarder would have been good from about 60-yards out. The kid definitely has some power. Schafer missed from 34 and 41 yards and possibly from 45, it was hard to tell whether or not that one was good.

— James Williams got a little run at punt returner today, as did Martin Jr., Priester and Gabe Marks. After practice, running backs coach Jim Mastro said that Williams could be the best athlete he's ever had.

— Peyton Bender had a nice skeleton drill, dropping in beautiful intermediate passes to Sweet over the middle and Priester on the sideline. He also had a couple touchdown passes to Jamal Morrow and Gabe Marks.

— Shalom Luani continues to paly well in his first week with the Cougars, intercepting Falk during the skeleton drill.

— Powell and Zach Charme were the punters again on Wednesday. Charme showed a little more leg power than we'd seen in previous practices but it's not consistent, yet. Powell was solid.

— The defensive was able to pressure Bender during the team period. Jeremiah Allison sacked the quarterback early and two plays later Dylan Hanser (I think) sacked Bender and knocked the ball loose. Bender responded nicely by completing his next five passes.

Safety Isaac Dotson again saw time at nickel. Luani and Taylor Taliulu were the safeties when Dotson slid over to nickel.

— Falk relied again on a potent ground game, highlighted by running back Gerard Wicks, who had a long run and later sprung Jamal Morrow for a score while lead blocking. Falk even called his own number on one play and rushed around the right tackle for a gain of around 10 yards.

WSU live chat (Transcript)

We held our weekly live chat today at 11 a.m. If you missed it, or just want to relive the magic, the transcript is available below.

srchat: Hey, it's Wednesday and it's 11 a.m. and those two things mean it's time to chat. Got any questions for your eyes and ears from WSU preseason camp?

Aug 12 2015, 11:00 AM

Guest7755 (guest): How does Aaron Porter look? Will he push Pueller or Allisson?

Aug 12 2015, 11:01 AM

srchat: Physically Porter looks like a Pac-12 linebacker and he's starting to make some plays in camp. While I expected him to be solid against the run, I've been impressed by his quick instincts in pass coverage.

Aug 12 2015, 11:02 AM

WSUcommenter (guest): Is Luke Falk elite?

Aug 12 2015, 11:02 AM

srchat: I don't know but he's a lunch pail guy imo

Aug 12 2015, 11:02 AM

CrimsonGray (guest): Any more news on the Kyrin Priester front? If a decision were to come in the cougs favor is there a timetable for these things, or is it case by case?

Aug 12 2015, 11:03 AM

srchat: We haven't had a chance to ask the coaches yet since it was said he might be able to play this year. There's no real timetable for these appeals, but it's probably a longshot anyways.

Aug 12 2015, 11:03 AM

Guest6149 (guest): Does it appear Barber could start at the Nose and would they move Ekulae around or would he stick at the nose only?

Aug 12 2015, 11:04 AM

srchat: I don't think the coaches would be opposed to moving Ekuale to one of the end spots against big, power-running teams like Stanford. But mostly, I think they want to stay as fast as possible on defense.

Aug 12 2015, 11:04 AM

Guest6735 (guest): Is it true mike leach only calls pass plays and QB checks to the run?

Aug 12 2015, 11:04 AM

srchat: That's what he tells us.

Aug 12 2015, 11:04 AM

Guest1589 (guest): What about a punter? Did coaches go get somebody?

Aug 12 2015, 11:05 AM

srchat: Erik Powell and Zach Charme are taking reps right now. I know they're trying to get another walk-on in.

Aug 12 2015, 11:05 AM

Guest4353 (guest): Your overall thoughts on the look of this years team compared to years past?

Aug 12 2015, 11:07 AM

srchat: I thought the Cougars looked better at quarterback heading into last season with Halliday. At receiver I think they look a little better and the offensive defensive lines definitely look better. The secondary and linebackers look improved. Ultimately, I think the team is a little better but they could miss Halliday.

Aug 12 2015, 11:07 AM

Guest7755 (guest): Do you think Issac Dotson will stay at safety or move over to the Nickel?

Aug 12 2015, 11:08 AM

srchat: I think he'll probably stick at safety. Darius Lemora has played well at nickel and I don't see why you'd take a starting caliber player off the field. Without Dotson the depth at safety gets pretty thin with Hameed limited.

Aug 12 2015, 11:08 AM

Guest1589 (guest): Are those punters any good?

Aug 12 2015, 11:08 AM

srchat: Powell has a good leg but consistency is an issue.

Aug 12 2015, 11:08 AM

Guest412 (guest): What is the biggest reason (player or position group) that the defense will improve this year?

Aug 12 2015, 11:08 AM

srchat: A more athletic, attacking secondary.

Aug 12 2015, 11:09 AM

Guest5346 (guest): Your win-loss prediction?

Aug 12 2015, 11:09 AM

srchat: 5-7

Aug 12 2015, 11:09 AM

VegasCoug (guest): Pretty quiet on the Destiny Vaeao front. Getting out played? 3 year starter under Breske and back up under Grinch??

Aug 12 2015, 11:10 AM

srchat: Destiny Vaeao is partially limited in practices and sits out occasionally but I expect him to be ready for the season and to be a key contributor on the defense.

Aug 12 2015, 11:10 AM

Guest4845 (guest): What is the one thing that surprised you the most on defense and offense so far?

Aug 12 2015, 11:10 AM

srchat: On defense, how many interceptions and pass breakups there have been. On offense, how many interceptions and pass breakups there have been.

Aug 12 2015, 11:10 AM

CrimsonGray (guest): Sounds like Dimry has had some flashes during the first few practices. Do you think he can break in with the 2-deeps? Does he make an impact this year? (thank goodness you have a crystal ball)

Aug 12 2015, 11:11 AM

srchat: After four practices I definitely think he can make the two deeps. He needs to keep improving but he's got size, hands and he's smoother than I expected.

Aug 12 2015, 11:11 AM

Guest4353 (guest): Thanks. Should Cougar fans have any reason to be more optimistic about the kicking game this year? Seems like Powell has been better based on the practice reports.

Aug 12 2015, 11:12 AM

srchat: Powell has kicked well in practice, but he kicked well in practice last year. It's impossible to replicate a kick in front of thousands of fans in a game and we won't really know how WSU's kicking game will fare until they take some live attempts.

Aug 12 2015, 11:12 AM

Guest1589 (guest): Has anyone asked Leach the thinking behind only calling pass plays and checking to run? Why never run and check to pass

Aug 12 2015, 11:14 AM

srchat: I think it's because the pass is the default in the Air Raid, it's presumed that a pass is a better way to get a player in space than a run and will result in more yards. The only reason not to pass is if the QB, who has a better view of the defense than Leach does, sees that it will be more effective. Basically, pass unless the defense forces you to run.

Aug 12 2015, 11:14 AM

CrimsonGray (guest): What is your pac-12 north standings prediction?

Aug 12 2015, 11:14 AM

srchat: Here is my entire Pac-12 ballot I submitted at Media Days: http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/sportslink/2015/jul/30/my-pac-12-preseason-media-poll-ballot/

Aug 12 2015, 11:14 AM

Guest3940 (guest): who is the most underrated linebacker on the team?

Aug 12 2015, 11:15 AM

srchat: I think Greg Hoyd is a player that hasn't gotten much attention but could have a nice career.

Aug 12 2015, 11:16 AM

Guest6149 (guest): Of the young linebackers (Leniu, Hoyd, Luvo, etc) is anyone standing out?

Aug 12 2015, 11:16 AM

srchat: I think Leniu has the best chance to see the field of that group. Luvu came on last year but has been pretty quiet in camp.

Aug 12 2015, 11:16 AM

Guest412 (guest): Who is their best player on defense?

Aug 12 2015, 11:17 AM

srchat: It might be Charleston White. Vaeao and Jeremiah Allison are solid players but White really seems to lock down his side of the field.

Aug 12 2015, 11:17 AM

VegasCoug (guest): Based on the questions you have recently asked Coach Leach it seems you have been very impressed with Wicks at running back. IS there a noticeable difference when he is lined up at running back compared to Harrington and Morrow?

Aug 12 2015, 11:18 AM

srchat: There's a notable difference in running styles. Wicks is a violent runner who still has lots of speed and can juke. Granted, it's probably easier to break tackles without pads but it always seems like the defender that tackles Wicks takes a harder hit than he does. Harrington and Morrow have each played well, however. Morrow is still the best pass-catcher in my opinion.

Aug 12 2015, 11:18 AM

Guest1589 (guest): Air Raid puts a lot of pressure on the QB and history says he will get hurt. Isn't it time to tweak this system?

Aug 12 2015, 11:19 AM

srchat: College football puts a lot of pressure on the QB and history says most starters get hurt at some point. If WSU can improve its sack numbers slightly, and I believe it will, then the QB isn't getting hit more than those in any other offenses.

Aug 12 2015, 11:19 AM

Guest7056 (guest): I may be ignorant, but I don't think I've read much about Jeremiah Mitchell through four practices. How's he doing?

Aug 12 2015, 11:19 AM

srchat: I felt like he stood out more in the spring. But it's still early. He's a big, strong guy and we'll see how he does with pads on today.

Aug 12 2015, 11:19 AM

CrimsonGray (guest): Who is your favorite SID?

Aug 12 2015, 11:20 AM

srchat: Linda Chalich.

Aug 12 2015, 11:20 AM

Ragtopman (guest): Does Tapa have enough quickness to get significant playing time?

Aug 12 2015, 11:20 AM

srchat: He definitely has enough quickness. How much playing time he gets will depend on conditioning.

Aug 12 2015, 11:21 AM

Guest4845 (guest): From what you've seen do you think WSU will do better this year defensively against Pac 12 teams?

Aug 12 2015, 11:21 AM

srchat: Yes, I do expect the defense to improve.

Aug 12 2015, 11:21 AM

Guest8169 (guest): My apologies if I missed it, but any word on some of the players absent from camp thus far (Toki, Broughton, Ware, etc.)? Thank you and keep up the great work!

Aug 12 2015, 11:22 AM

srchat: I don't know what's up with Ware. Calvin Green is dealing with a family matter and will arrive when he arrives. Broughton has stated on social media that he took a final last week so I'm sure he's waiting on the clearinghouse. I wouldn't be surprised if Toki is in a similar boat.

Aug 12 2015, 11:23 AM

Guest1005 (guest): Is it safe to assume Barry Ware is no longer with the program? Was really looking forward to seeing him develop.

Aug 12 2015, 11:24 AM

srchat: You can't really assume anything when they're this closed mouth about the absent players. I wouldn't be shocked if Ware was suited up today, and I wouldn't be surprised if we never see him again.

Aug 12 2015, 11:24 AM

Guest1589 (guest): Coverage teams were horrible last year, any reason to believe this year will be better?

Aug 12 2015, 11:25 AM

srchat: Once Eric Mele took over the team stopped giving up so many big returns. Now that he's had an offseason with the players I would imagine it won't be such an issue.

Aug 12 2015, 11:25 AM

Guest3464 (guest): sorry if I missed it but are going to ask about Priester today and the possible waiver?

Aug 12 2015, 11:25 AM

srchat: Yes, we'll ask about that today. We haven't spoken with the coaches since I heard about Gesser's KJR statements.

Aug 12 2015, 11:26 AM

Guest7755 (guest): Which player has improved the most since spring ball?

Aug 12 2015, 11:26 AM

srchat: It might be Erik Powell, he's looked very good in camp. I also think Tyler Baker and Robert Lewis have both improved pretty well.

Aug 12 2015, 11:26 AM

Michael Heald: Talks recently about there being a legitimate battle for starting spot btwn Robert Lewis and Tyler Baker. Is that as close of a battle as is being let on?

Aug 12 2015, 11:29 AM

srchat: Well, Tyler Baker is a Y receiver and Robert Lewis is an H receiver.That said, there has been some movement among the inside receivers. Both have had very good camps so far. I still expect River Cracraft to start at Y, however.

Aug 12 2015, 11:29 AM

Guest6384 (guest): Give us a one sentence pitch about why WSU will be great. Give us one sentence about why WSU won't be great. (pro/con)

Aug 12 2015, 11:30 AM

srchat: Offensive line is the most important position and the Cougars have everyone back. The Pac-12 is full of great offenses this year and the WSU defense isn't ready to cope.

Aug 12 2015, 11:30 AM

VegasCoug (guest): Seems like Bender has created some good chemistry with Marks (lots of deep balls) and Falk has created some with Dom, but in more of the short to intermediate route varieties… Does Falk attempt many deep passes in practice?

Aug 12 2015, 11:31 AM

srchat: Not as many as Bender, but he did have a deep touchdown pass to Robert Lewis yesterday.

Aug 12 2015, 11:31 AM

Guest8190 (guest): Which freshmen have the best chance to start this year, and how many freshmen do you think will start?

Aug 12 2015, 11:32 AM

srchat: I don't think any true freshmen will start. Kirkland Parker, Darrien Molton, Hunter Dale, Kam Powell, and perhaps Kyle Sweet and Tavares Martin Jr. look like they might see playing time.

Aug 12 2015, 11:32 AM

CrimsonGray (guest): Most freshman will redshirt. Which freshman have the best chance of not redshirting and seeing the field for the Cougs?

Aug 12 2015, 11:32 AM

srchat: See above.

Aug 12 2015, 11:32 AM

Guest7056 (guest): A little more on Tapa - you said his playing time depends on conditioning. Is he out of shape, or just not used to the speed of the college game? He's a big dude, and I don't imagine it is easy carrying around 300+ pounds while trying to get to the QB.

Aug 12 2015, 11:32 AM

srchat: Very few players that young that are 300+ pounds can play many snaps. I don't think he needs to lose weight, necessarily, but it will take time before he can give 100 percent for an entire series.

Aug 12 2015, 11:33 AM

Ragtopman (guest): How does Helinski look?

Aug 12 2015, 11:33 AM

srchat: Hilinski looks fine but I think they're still fine-tuning his mechanics.

Aug 12 2015, 11:33 AM

Guest1005 (guest): Saw that Jeff Farrer left and went to a Juco. Thought he could be a very solid corner for the cougs.

Aug 12 2015, 11:33 AM

srchat: Farrar frankly had a pretty unimpressive spring. It just never seemed to click with him and the new coaching staff.

Aug 12 2015, 11:34 AM

Guest1589 (guest): Any idea how many times we run the ball this year? 10%, 20%, or 30%?

Aug 12 2015, 11:34 AM

srchat: They were at about 23% last year. This year I bet they'll be around 30 percent.

Aug 12 2015, 11:34 AM

Guest2848 (guest): Not knowing about injuries is a pain in the butt. I'm sure it is for you as well. Will you get blackballed if you report injuries? I know there is a shoulder issue with one guy but haven't seen it reported.

Aug 12 2015, 11:34 AM

srchat: If we covered the injuries we would not be able to cover the more important stuff, unfortunately.

Aug 12 2015, 11:35 AM

Guest6321 (guest): Is River fully participating? I know he had been dinged up in the spring.

Aug 12 2015, 11:35 AM

srchat: River has gotten a few breaks during practice and was a little limited yesterday. Seems like he's pretty available, though.

Aug 12 2015, 11:35 AM

Guest3464 (guest): awesome coverage btw. You definitely ask the right questions in the right way to Leach, seems he responds to you better than the other wahoos….(wait is it yahoo or wahoo?)

Aug 12 2015, 11:36 AM

srchat: Thanks for the compliment. In my colleagues' defense, I've had more interactions and opportunities to cover Leach than most.

Aug 12 2015, 11:36 AM

Guest4845 (guest): Does the nutrition department have emergency iced teas ready to go for you guys out there covering camp? Also where are they playing Luani? Safety? Is he pushing Tailulu?

Aug 12 2015, 11:37 AM

srchat: No, but the SID staff has been great about snagging water bottles for me from time to time. Luani's been at safety. Honestly, through four days it's tough to see who is "pushing" someone and who is just getting a look. That being said, yes, Luani is pushing the safeties.

Aug 12 2015, 11:37 AM

WSUcommenter (guest): What's Grinch's style of D? Blitz heavy or rush 4 approach?

Aug 12 2015, 11:37 AM

srchat: Seems like he blitzes a little more than average but I wouldn't call it a blitz-heavy defense.

Aug 12 2015, 11:37 AM

CrimsonGray (guest): Will Roy Manning be using this job as a placeholder or should we expect to see him in Pullman for a long time?

Aug 12 2015, 11:38 AM

srchat: He's a young guy and I'm sure he's ambitious so I think it's unfair or unrealistic to not take a job with more responsibility and money if it's offered. That said, he's told me how much he likes Pullman. And I know he thinks the weather is a big upgrade from Ann Arbor.

Aug 12 2015, 11:38 AM

ritymeez (guest): From Leach's interviews, it "appears" that he is more pleased with how the players are playing. One thing I haven't noticed him say too much this year is consistency during practice from either the offense or defense. Have you noticed this too or is it just my imaginations?

Aug 12 2015, 11:39 AM

srchat: I seem to remember him saying something about liking the consistency on both sides of the lines.

Aug 12 2015, 11:39 AM

VegasCoug (guest): Luani getting any time with 1's yet?

Aug 12 2015, 11:39 AM

srchat: Yeah, he got some run there.

Aug 12 2015, 11:39 AM

Ragtopman (guest): Does Tago look fast enough to play nickel or safety?

Aug 12 2015, 11:40 AM

srchat: I could see strong safety. I don't know about nickel.

Aug 12 2015, 11:41 AM

Guest8190 (guest): Does it look like the defensive coaches are more cohesive this year?

srchat: I think there is a lot of excitement among the new coaches to teach a new defense and see what they can do with it.

Aug 12 2015, 11:42 AM

Guest1589 (guest): What do you feel is acceptable interception rate in air Raid?

Aug 12 2015, 11:43 AM

srchat: Based on what Leach's quarterbacks did at Texas Tech, I would say somewhere around 3:1 TD:Int is good. Better is great, of course.

Aug 12 2015, 11:43 AM

CrimsonGray (guest): If Gabe Marks has a big year do you see him going to the draft? Especially with his past injuries not wanting to risk another one his senior year.

Aug 12 2015, 11:44 AM

srchat: Yeah, I've wondered that myself. He'll have been in college for four years and may not feel he has much to gain by staying another year. If he puts together a Mayle-like season with close to 100 catches, I could definitely see him leaving.

Aug 12 2015, 11:45 AM

WSUcommenter (guest): Biggest question this off-season, will we have new grey helmets? Concrete grey looked a little top heavy imo

Aug 12 2015, 11:45 AM

srchat: I'm expecting another year of anthracite goodness.

Aug 12 2015, 11:45 AM

Guest6149 (guest): I have heard Freeman has played some Guard. Have noticed whether it's Right or Left? Both?

Aug 12 2015, 11:45 AM

srchat: Seems like I saw him at right guard at some point.

Aug 12 2015, 11:45 AM

Guest8448 (guest): How does Falk bounce back from mistakes in practice? My main concern is how great he looked prior to his first interception at ASU vs after.

Aug 12 2015, 11:47 AM

srchat: Falk is pretty hard on himself when evaluating performances. That said, Leach has always said one of his best qualities was his ability to move forward from play-to-play and not dwell on the bad ones. From what I can tell he's good about that in the moment. But when it's Bender's turn or practice is over he lets himself be frustrated about the mistakes.

Aug 12 2015, 11:47 AM

Guest7755 (guest): It seems like Falk is the more consistent game manager type of Air Raid quaterback? Is that a fair assessment?

Aug 12 2015, 11:47 AM

srchat: I think Falk is better at managing the offense in the way Leach wants. He is more willing to check into runs and hit check down receivers, and Leach would like to see Bender improve in those areas.

Aug 12 2015, 11:48 AM

Guest1589 (guest): Who is the nastiest hitter on D, and biggest stud on o-line to watch?

Aug 12 2015, 11:48 AM

srchat: Hercules Mata'afa can lay the wood and so can Shalom Luani. Joe Dahl is the best offensive lineman and it's not all that close, although I think Gunnar Eklund looks pretty good, too.

Aug 12 2015, 11:49 AM

Guest7056 (guest): Which road game(s) are you most looking forward to due to the venue, location, etc.?

Aug 12 2015, 11:50 AM

srchat: I've never covered a game in the Rose Bowl, so I'm excited for that. Rutgers will be a lark and the Bay Area is always a fun trip. I'm really sad the Cougars don't travel to either Utah or Colorado this year.

Aug 12 2015, 11:50 AM

Guest1589 (guest): I'm writing those names down.

Aug 12 2015, 11:50 AM

srchat: I'll wait while you grab a pen.

Aug 12 2015, 11:51 AM

CrimsonGray (guest): Who is your dream team to cover?

Aug 12 2015, 11:51 AM

srchat: The Seattle Supersonics.

Aug 12 2015, 11:52 AM

srchat: As far as college football goes, whatever team means I cover a national championship season.

Aug 12 2015, 11:53 AM

Guest5346 (guest): There has been a ton mentioned about the newbies by the various news outlets. Martin, sweet, Luani, Williams, and many more. How much of that is indicative of how many/ how much they will play, or is it just a tendency to want to unwrap the newest presents to see what we got?

Aug 12 2015, 11:53 AM

srchat: It's a combination of the latter and the fact that the coaches are taking long looks at them early on in camp.

Aug 12 2015, 11:53 AM

Guest7755 (guest): Who wins? 2015 Cougs vs. 2014 Cougs?

Aug 12 2015, 11:53 AM

srchat: The 2015 Cougs win 42-38.

Aug 12 2015, 11:54 AM

Guest1589 (guest): I am looking forward to UCLA ga Always play them tough and last year was the first year I did not see a game in SO Cal for n over 30 years.

Aug 12 2015, 11:54 AM

srchat: So, where do I eat?

Aug 12 2015, 11:55 AM

CrimsonGray (guest): Will the Cougs ever compete for a national championship? 5, 10, 20 years down the road?

Aug 12 2015, 11:56 AM

srchat: I mean, they made it to the Rose Bowl twice in the last 20 years. It's not that big of a leap to the national championship, especially if the playoffs expand.

Aug 12 2015, 11:56 AM

VegasCoug (guest): Have practice formats, drills, tempo or anything like that have changed with a new dc. Or has Leach pretty much kept it all the same?

Aug 12 2015, 11:56 AM

srchat: Practice is basically the same.

Aug 12 2015, 11:56 AM

Guest1589 (guest): Old town Pasadena anywhere is good.

Aug 12 2015, 11:56 AM

srchat: Thanks.

Aug 12 2015, 11:56 AM

Guest6363 (guest): If the Cougs can start 3-0, does your prediction of a 5-7 season change?

Aug 12 2015, 11:57 AM

srchat: Then I would predict 6-6.

Aug 12 2015, 11:57 AM

CrimsonGray (guest): So when does Idaho compete for a natty? haha

Aug 12 2015, 11:57 AM

srchat: When Birnam forest comes to Moscow.

Aug 12 2015, 11:57 AM

Guest335 (guest): I know one of the biggest 'sells' employed during while searching for a DC this offseason was the autonomy that came with the job. Just curious as to your observations thus far. Is Leach involved with the D (personnel wise & schematically) very much? Does he have final say? Also, how is the relationship between Leach and Grinch from your perspective. Thank you

Aug 12 2015, 11:58 AM

srchat: Leach is very uninvolved with the defensive side of the ball and basically just lets Grinch do his thing as long as it fits in the structure of the practice schedule. I think Leach feels that for an unexperienced coordinator, Grinch has handled the role very well and considers him a hard worker.

Aug 12 2015, 11:59 AM

Guest6363 (guest): Have you heard any updates on the proposed indoor practice facility?

Aug 12 2015, 11:59 AM

srchat: No, I think they still have a fair amount of fundraising to do.

Aug 12 2015, 11:59 AM

Guest7485 (guest): Do you know if they ever looked at current D coaches for the D coordinator position? I was surprised a guy like Salavea didn't get a shot over a young small resume Grinch.

Aug 12 2015, 11:59 AM

srchat: I haven't heard that they were interviewed.

Aug 12 2015, 12:00 PM

VegasCoug (guest): Seems like Falk got the ball out to the WR's rather slowly on bubble screens this spring….has his arm strength improved at all are we running less screens w/o Halliday's quick release

Aug 12 2015, 12:00 PM

srchat: They're definitely running as many as ever. Falk was intercepted by Marcellus Pippins on a screen pass but I think that had more to do with Pippins reading the play than the pass being slow.

Aug 12 2015, 12:00 PM

CrimsonGray (guest): Why don't you write a check to Moos then and get the ball rolling on the indoor practice facility?

Aug 12 2015, 12:00 PM

srchat: Because I like writing practice reports and I think those might be over when the IPF arrives.

Aug 12 2015, 12:01 PM

Guest7485 (guest): Good. Halliday was terrible at the screen pass.

Aug 12 2015, 12:03 PM

Guest335 (guest): In your opinion, how much longer will the Cougs be able to fight off what is seemingly every team in the Conference trying to get coach joe s

Aug 12 2015, 12:03 PM

srchat: Well, they held off USC, so it seems like they've taken the conference's best shot unless someone offers more responsibility.

Aug 12 2015, 12:03 PM

VegasCoug (guest): So Harrington and Marks as top punt returner candidates…any signs of kick returners?

Aug 12 2015, 12:04 PM

srchat: Priester and Harrington were back there yesterday.

Aug 12 2015, 12:05 PM

Guest1589 (guest): Off the wall, how do you like the new PAT in the NFL?

Aug 12 2015, 12:05 PM

srchat: My first instinct is that I like making the XP a little more interesting. That said, it's going to be really annoying the first time it costs a team a game.

Aug 12 2015, 12:05 PM

Butch (guest): The OL is as strong and deep as it has been for several years. Will Leach just keep starters in or will he rotate them?

Aug 12 2015, 12:06 PM

srchat: There usually isn't a lot of rotating on the offensive line.

Aug 12 2015, 12:06 PM

Guest335 (guest): Based on your observations during his first year, Had Tyler Bruggman stuck it out, do you think he would have been our QB this year?

Aug 12 2015, 12:06 PM

srchat: Uhm, not if Falk had been the guy that went in against USC. If we'd never seen Falk in a game, probably a coin flip.

Aug 12 2015, 12:06 PM

Guest7485 (guest): Is Harrington still #84? I find it fitting a RB in a leach system wears a WR #.

Aug 12 2015, 12:06 PM

srchat: Sadly, Harrington now rocks #24.

Aug 12 2015, 12:07 PM

VegasCoug (guest): Based on how many reps Priester is getting with 1's and 2's it sure seems like the coaches might think this waiver has a decent shot

Aug 12 2015, 12:07 PM

srchat: Yeah, they definitely are keeping him ready. But he also got reps last spring when it seemed pretty likely he would sit. It may be more about having the defense cover the best players.

Aug 12 2015, 12:08 PM

Guest7485 (guest): Which back gets the most carries if cougs play tomorrow? Wicks?

Aug 12 2015, 12:08 PM

srchat: Wicks.

Aug 12 2015, 12:08 PM

Guest335 (guest): Don't have a question, just want to say thank you again for the hard work and fielding what I'm sure seems like a million frivolous questions. Only way I'm able to keep up with my Cougs from Dallas. Thank you

Aug 12 2015, 12:09 PM

Guest6149 (guest): Ditto what Guest335 entered. Thanks for the effort!

Aug 12 2015, 12:09 PM

srchat: Hey, thanks a lot you both, I appreciate that. And thank you all for joining our live chat and making it a good one. We'll do it again next week. Same time, same place.

Aug 12 2015, 12:10 PM

srchat: Oh, and we'll have the transcript up shortly.

Morning links: Let’s have a chat

It's Wednesday and it's football season. That mean we'll be chatting about WSU on SportsLink at 11 a.m.

But first, here are some links to tide you over.

When you're sitting in your air conditioned homes and offices today, shedding a tear for the football players trying to survive in Lewiston's oppressive heat, take a moment to think about the valiant nutritionists who keep them hydrated. They're the subject of our story in today's paper.  Yesterday was pretty hot, too. But we braved the heat to bring you a practice report and videos of Mike Leach, Clay McGuire, Gunnar Eklund, Marcellus Pippins and Gerard Wicks.

— Washington safety Budda Baker took snaps on offense.

— Whoever starts at safety for Arizona has some big cleats to fill.

— Arizona State is expecting big things from tight end Kody Kohl.

— A former fullback has led the Buffaloes in rushing for three consecutive years.

— Still no update on Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams.

— A couple seniors will lead the way at Oregon State.

— Jon Wilner previews Stanford's football camp.

— The Bruins aren't ready to name a starting quarterback.

— Tre Madden looks like the next star USC running back.

— Joe Williams is getting a second chance at Utah.