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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Mixed bag for Cougs on Day 10


FROM PULLMAN -- I swear I'm trying to be as creative as I can with these post titles and lead-ins. But when you're two-thirds of the way through spring practice and there just  isn't a whole lot going on ... well, you get broad generalities. But hey, there's still plenty to discuss, so read on.


Mike Leach said after Thursday's practice that he thought it was the best of the spring in terms of both sides of the ball responding to big plays made by the other side. "I thought we did a good job recovering from one play to the next," Leach said. "Nobody got on a big roll. Somebody would make a big play, the other side would rise up. I thought that was very positive." ... Maybe one of the most consistent performers of the way was cornerback Tracy Clark, who saw a bit of time with the No. 1 defense during team session. He was locked in a verbal spar with receiver Isiah Myers after controlling him physically a couple of times, and made some nice plays in coverage. That prompted Clark to run off the field purporting that the Cougars' defense was "actin' a fool," an observation by which he seemed rather pleased. ... Some of the most interesting work of the day, from my perspective, was watching the receivers and defensive backs go at it in 1-on-1 drills. Gino Simone had a couple of nice catches in which he gained a good deal of separation at the line of scrimmage, burning Casey Locker particularly badly on one play. Damante Horton earned a great deal of praise during that drill, responding to coaches' demands to "beat up" the receiver he was covering. They're emphasizing a lot of contact at the line of scrimmage for these guys. ... The most noticeable absence today was offensive lineman Dan Spitz, who has been playing at right guard with the No. 1 unit. He was replaced by Zack Johnson. Elliott Bosch also slid over to left guard from time to time to allow Taylor Meighen to take some snaps at center. And Wade Jacobson, during the team's screen period, took snaps at right tackle and right guard. ... David Gilbertson made a pair of nice touchdown throws to Marquess Wilson and Blair Bomber during the red-zone portion of team session. Jeff Tuel did likewise on a slant route to Drew Loftus, who continues to make big plays and looks more and more as if he could see some legitimate playing time this season. ... Safety Tyree Toomer was not at practice, and has been out with some kind of injury for five practices now. Cornerbacks Spencer Waseem, Travion Smith or Ryan Nungester, defensive end Jordan Pu’u Robinson and tight end Mansel Simmons were also absent. Receivers Henry Eaddy and Kristoff Williams were limited, as were defensive end Adam Coerper, offensive lineman Chas Sampson, defensive tackle Kalafitoni Pole, safety Max Gama and cornerbacks Nolan Washington and Brandon Golden. Yes, Waseem was cited for misdemeanor assault on Wednesday, but he's also missed every practice due to injury and hasn't been present at the last few, so his absence is likely still injury-related. The fact is that Leach doesn't really address those kind of things one way or the other -- he'd be the same way with any of the names previously mentioned -- so there's no way of knowing. ... I asked Leach about the Sekope Kaufusi situation afterward, and whether he'd actually spoken with him about a possible reinstatement. Here's what Leach said: "Anything like that, I certainly wouldn’t discuss publicly. I’d discuss it with him. We don’t talk about that publicly." ... For my story for tomorrow's newspaper, I wrote about the emphasis being placed on the screen game, and I wanted to talk with some of the running backs about it. But they were held so long after practice doing all kinds of not-so-fun looking conditioning drills in the sand pit that none of them were available to talk. I asked running backs coach Jim Mastro why his players were relegated to the beach. He said: "Just a bad day today, mentally. What happens is complacency sets in, you have a good day you’ve got to be able to have two good days, three good days in a row, and then today they had some mental busts they shouldn’t have had on simple stuff. To me that’s just lack of focus. So there’s self-motivation, reward motivation and fear motivation. Well, today had to be a fear-motivated day. Once you have a letdown, you’ve got to come out of it and they couldn’t come out of it. Just one thing and another thing, it was one guy, it was two guys, it was three guys, and those things can’t happen." ... Leach said Saturday's scrimmage will be similar length -- about 110 plays or so -- as last week's.

That's all we have for now.

Christian Caple can be reached at Twitter: @ChristianCaple

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