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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Offensive line backups impress

Throughout most practices this fall offensive line coach Clay McGuire has had to endure the excitement of Joe Salave'a, his coaching counterpart on the defensive line, yelling encouragement to his players after winning yet another drill against WSU's less experienced offensive linemen.

This week, however, it's been Salave'a having to make stoic corrections and chide his players while McGuire has all the fun.

"It always feels good. That's a good thing when your guys are playing well with high energy and high tempo, there's a lot of stuff you can build on," McGuire said. "The guys actually came out pretty excited about practice this week and haven't played with any hesitation and have played pretty fast. It's been pretty decent practices."

More from practice after the jump.

It's especially apparent how much the offensive linemen have improved during one-on-one drills against defensive linemen. Typically the defensive players have had little trouble making a move and getting to the quarterback, but during yesterday and today's practice the offensive linemen often held their ground and never let their opponent past.

It's not like the players have gotten significantly stronger since the start of the season, so improved technique is likely the reason for their newfound success.

"It's just like pitchers in baseball," McGuire said. "Everything becomes muscle memory and the more you do something the more natural it becomes and the faster you can move and be good at it."

McGuire listed Andre Dillard and Devonte McClain as players that have been playing particularly well this week.

Defensively the Cougars continued to prepare for California. Washington State has an advantage in that Cal coach Sonny Dykes runs a variation of WSU's Air Raid offense, so the young secondary has seen most of Cal's concepts before. Of course, the Golden Bears defense has the same advantage.

However, the offsetting advantages might mean that the score on Saturday is lower than one would probably expect when pitting two explosive offenses against each other.

When asked if that could be the case Mike Leach said, " It can, it can. Our offenses are something different though, they're more different than they have been."

Specifically, Cal has run the ball a lot more this year than in the past, and much more often then WSU likely every will under Leach.

Redshirting Gabe Marks is back at scout receiver after a few weeks of playing mobile quarterback and he made his presence felt quickly. He nearly dropped his first catch but hauled it in after bobbling it despite a defender nearby.

Later he caught a nice pass from Connor Ennis despite the presence of Beau Glover and Marcellus Pippin in his immediate vicinity. Ennis looked pretty accurate on the day, with the exception of one interception thrown to Taylor Taliulu. Still, the scout quarterback looks much improved over even a month or so ago.

Glover had a pass breakup earlier in practice and could have had an interception but wasn't able to locate the ball after knocking it up. Marcelllus Pippins had an interception on an underthrown ball.

Still, the scout team is Peyton Bender's show. Bender's passes have a way of always dropping immediately in front of the receivers chest, even on shorter passes.

On the opposite side of the field Connor Halliday looked sharp and had a couple nice passes to Robert Lewis. Maybe it's just me but Lewis appears to have a little more vinegar in him since making that big block on Vince Mayle's touchdown last Saturday.

Jacob Thorpe
Jacob Thorpe joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the Sports Desk covering Washington State University athletics.

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