Sun., Sept. 21, 2014
A little night practice
There were 32,948 fewer fans in the seats when the Cougars returned to Martin Stadium. One night after taking No. 2 Oregon to the wire in front a packed house Washington State returned for an hour-long practice in front of two pairs of parents, as well as some reporters and staff members.
Destiny Vaeao was back at practice, although still limited, and there were a couple interesting depth chart notes on the defensive side of the ball. We also spoke with defensive coordinator Mike Breske and offensive line coach Clay McGuire to get their thoughts on the game.
Our practice report is after the jump.
Sulaiman Hameed saw some time with the ones, which makes sense, since he saw extensive playing time at safety in his collegiate debut on Saturday. He racked up six tackles, one big hit on a short pass, and one unfortunately costly penalty.
"I think he played 49 plays for the game. We knew he was going to play, we didn't know how much," Breske said. "We liked what he was doing, he had great effort out there. Big stage for his first game and we were kind of giving him a little grief. Young man from Alameda high school and what a way to start. He graded out the best at the safety position."
We also saw cornerback Pat Porter taking time with both the ones and the twos.
The Cougars did some punt work and it was good to see River Cracraft taking some return reps. Rickey Galvin has done a good job as the punt returner – he took over when Cracraft missed the Nevada game – but after Cracraft's great game against the Ducks it looks like they're ready to get him back on the field as much as possible.
Vaeao was at practice and suited up but did not participate, which meant that Darryl Paulo was again the starting defensive end. Jeremiah Allison continued to see time with the ones at linebacker and it seems the Cougars like having his speed on the field.
We asked Breske about what the Cougars did to bring pressure against Mariota, who was sacked seven times.
"Well we mixed up fire zones and we had a couple new line stunts and that type of deal," Breske said. "We had five sacks in the first half and had some good pressure, and just have to keep that up in the second half."
The Cougars, conversely, gave up just one sack. The offensive line played easily its best game this season, and even did some good things in the running game. Still, McGuire thinks they can do better.
"It wasn't bad. We did some good things. I was really proud of the effort and thought our guys came out intense and focused," McGuire said. "We did some good things in pass protection. We're still not running the ball as well as we can be. We're running it decent at times but we still aren't finishing blocks we could that would lead to more yards in the run game."
The line is young, but bigger and more athletic than last season's veteran unit. Where the athleticism has really showed up this season is in the screen game. Against the Ducks, Galvin got 14 yards on a quick pass outside thanks to some great downfield blocking.
"We've done some pretty good things in screens this year. I think (the athleticism) definitely helps, these guys play in space better than they have in the past so we just need to continue to improve that aspect as well."