FROM LEWISTON -- Temperatures threatened to reach 100 degrees here today, but a nice cloud cover rolled in and it was relatively pleasant by the time Washington State wrapped up its eighth practice of camp. We have a few notes and details after the jump.
This was probably WSU's least-eventful practice to date. There weren't any position changes. There weren't any promotions or demotions. No new injuries or absences to report. I ate a Subway sandwich.
There were, however, several more impressive routes and catches by Gabe Marks, who continues to build off his strong spring and establish himself as WSU's most reliable receiver. He beat Nolan Washington pretty badly on a slant route during 1-on-1 drills, and caught a touchdown pass from Austin Apodaca during team session while being defended by Damante Horton.
--- Daquawn Brown had another solid day, as he jumped a route on a pass thrown to Vince Mayle during 1-on-1s and knocked the ball away. He later had another nice pass breakup against Dominique Williams, and was acknowledged by the coaching staff afterward for being one of the defense's top performers. He even made a nice play in coverage against Marks during 7 on 7, forcing an incompletion and giving the defense a victory in the drill. It's looking more and more likely that he'll play some kind of role defensively this season.
--- Isaac Dotson got quite a few reps during 1-on-1 and 7-on-7s, but again just stood and watched during team session as he continues to adjust to playing safety.
--- Darryl Paulo continued to get some work with the second-team defensive line, and Peyton Pelluer is getting more snaps with the No. 2 defense at linebacker.
--- Connor Halliday threw touchdown passes on back-to-back plays to Williams and Mayle. The throw to Williams came after Halliday scrambled out of the pocket to his right, then found Williams wide open in the middle of the end zone.
--- Kristoff Williams made maybe the play of the day during 1-on-1 drills when he caught a pass one-handed in stride.
--- The final play of team session was again to determine the winner and loser, and unlike Thursday, the offense actually put the ball in play this time. But the defense again was the victor after stuffing running back Jeremiam Laufasa on a handoff up the middle. The offense had to perform one whole up-down.
--- Deone Bucannon went through every drill and took snaps with the No. 1 defense during team session for the second consecutive day after getting some rest earlier in the week.
--- Limited players: S Bennett Bontemps (walking boot), WR Tyler Baker, S Paris Taylor, DB Michael Fields, LB Austin Rapp, RB Theron west, LB Feddie Davey. LB Chester Su'a, S Darius Lemora and OL Matt Meyer were absent.
--- Mike Leach didn't speak to the media today, so there's nothing to pass along from him.
To make up for what was a relatively mundane day of practice, here's an interview with Elliott Bosch about leadership. More on that in tomorrow's paper.
(Does it seem like players are taking more responsibility for leading the team this season?) "I agree with that. The biggest example of that is the second or third day in pads we had where there was a few fights. Darryl Monroe, after we brought together the team, stood up and said, 'hey, we’re a family, we’re brothers. It’s OK to fight, but leave it on the field. Because when we brought it up, there were guys still arguing and stuff and a year ago no one would have spoken up. Everyone would have just been arguing with each other. So that’s good. Guys are stepping up, just getting everybody's mind right, where last year we would have had to do up-downs to set the tone. It’s good because for a long time we haven’t had real strong leadership presence on this team, and they’ve really instilled in us that we have to have that to be successful and guys are stepping up."
(Does that apply off the field?) "I think the younger guys have older guys to look at finally and say, 'OK, I’m going to do it like this, they’re doing it the right way. Those are the leaders, where when I was young, you knew the older guys weren’t really doing it the right way or doing what they were supposed to be doing."
(Are there fewer players testing Leach's rules?) "Most of that, the guys that bought in didn’t do that stuff (break the rules) in the first place, but the guys that did that left, and guys coming in, Leach set the tone and when he said he was going to do something if you broke one of his rules, he did it, so everyone got the message and no one tested it."
(Are there players on this team who are more committed than they were last year?) "I think even in the spring, you’re going to have a few guys who might say they’re here for the right reasons but haven’t really bought in. We had a great summer, and I think coming out this fall camp, having some good practices and really visibly changing as a team really brings those guys along and they start believing in what we’re doing and saying ‘oh, this is working’ and things like that."
(Other than production in practice, is there something about this team that makes you believe it will improve from last season?) "More than anything, we’re developing confidence in our team. We’ve had the skill, we’ve had the ability always. It’s just a … there’s been this culture around here for so long that they don’t expect to beat some teams or whatever. We need to develop that confidence that we can go out and beat anybody, even if they’re more talented or whatever it might be. I think that’s changing with the culture and I think that’s going to be an important part of our success."
(Is it better to have those messages sent by players instead of coaches?) "It is easier, and it’s big that people are stepping up and saying something when a guy’s not doing it right, and the other guy’s taking the criticism, and it’s important for the young guys to hear it coming from the old guys because they’ve been through it."