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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Cougars loose, energetic under the lights


FROM PULLMAN -- Here's how you know everyone is in a good mood at a football practice: when it ends with offensive and defense linemen catching punts. Washington State practiced for roughly an hour on Friday night in Martin Stadium, its final open practice of the season.


It was a light workout on Friday, one absent of any pads, as well as a team session. The first-team offense and first-team defense worked on separate sides of the field, going over technique and positioning and the like. ... There were several players who didn't practice, though DT Toni Pole was working out with his position group and seemed to be moving fine. Others, such as LB Darren Markle, DE Xavier Cooper, WR Kristoff Williams, WR Isiah Myers, CB Brandon Golden, WR Gino Simone and DT Robert Barber (who is still on crutches) were present but limited in some way. ... There really isn't much to report from practice itself, although there were an entertaining couple of minutes toward the end. The offense and defensive held a competition to see who could catch more punts between each group of linemen. It went surprisingly well. First, Niu Sale caught one with ease. The offense cheered. Then Destiny Vaeao hauled one in. The defense cheered. Wade Jacobson caught one. More cheers. Matthew Bock caught one (after Mike Bowlin needed a few extra tries to kick a catchable punt). John Fullington caught one. Ioane Gauta caught one. The intensity increased. Matt Goetz caught one before, finally, Toni Pole couldn't haul in his attempt to even the score, and the defense was forced to perform up-downs while the offense celebrated. ...

... Since closed practices are a new concept on the Palouse, I asked Leach his reasoning behind it. His response: "The biggest thing is we need them focused, you know. Quite honestly, I would have to say -- and any comparisons don’t matter to me really because I try to open it to the extent I can and that’s pretty generous compared to my colleagues last time I checked -- but if they’ve all changed and I'm the tightest one, I can certainly live with that too. And believe me, just thinking about it, I’ll sleep like a baby. (I) try to open it up whenever we can. Our coaches are accessible every day, our players will be accessible Saturday and we’ll have a few select ones accessible on Monday." ... Leach said the team will practice "under the lights" a few more times this season, and that he may have done it earlier but they wanted to wait until construction crews didn't need as much space for the renovation. ... I asked Leach about the challenge of school starting in the middle of the preseason, and he said that someone else had asked him the same thing earlier and it's something he's always wondered about himself. Texas Tech, he said, was also on the semester system, though he said they started a little later than WSU does. We'll write more about that next week.

That's all for now.

Christian Caple can be reached at Twitter: @ChristianCaple

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