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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Defense rebounds from a slow start

The Washington State defense faces an explosive offense this week in California, and one that presents a different challenge given that the Cougars have faced exclusively running quarterbacks since the season opener.

The Cougars spent Tuesday implementing this week's defensive game plan and there were some struggles.

"We're short on time to get ready for this game and the next one so we've got to get these guys going fast," said linebackers coach Ken Wilson.

More on practice after the jump.

The defense had some issues wrapping up early and some credit for that at least has to go to running back Squally Canada, who appears to already be one of the most violent runners on the team. He may not have the raw speed of Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks, but he has Wicks' suddenness and he seems to seek out contact.

 "He played really well today," Mike Leach said. "Did a great job on special teams and over there with the scout team at running back. Scout team player of the day in both phases."

Still, the coaches understandably felt that the first string defense should have been able to wrap up and stop the redshirting freshman and one or more defenders were made to do up-downs after the first three plays.

"It took them awhile to get going today. It was a put in day, I guess there was a little bit of learning going on," Wilson said. "Maybe that took a little bit, but it was a little slow at the start. Probably why it looked faster at the finish."

Paris Taylor took the message to heart and flattened Canada in the backfield soon after.

Taylor Taliulu made a nice play in coverage to pop the ball out of Keith Harrington's hands after the freshman receiver appeared to gain control of it.

The offensive line had one of its best days of the season going up against the defensive line during one-on-ones. Jacob Seydel stood up Ngalu Tapa on one play and forced the freshman to the ground and the defensive linemen were often unable to get to the quarterback at all. Usually in one-on-ones, which probably favor the defender in general, the defensive lineman is able to get to the quarterback after a few seconds.

The first team offense looked good during seven-on-seven's, with Connor Halliday finding Dom Williams and then Isiah Myers twice for first down completions on third-and-long. The defense recovered and Marcellus Pippins and Darius Lemora recorded pass breakups on and Robert Lewis was stopped before he was able to get to the first down marker.

While most of the team worked on kickoff coverage, the quarterbacks took turns trying to throw a football into a garbage can from 25 or so yards away. Peyton Bender needed just one attempt to find the bottom of the trash can.

The defense did look better in the final scout period. Charleston White broke up a pair of passes, although he did miss on a third that Gabe Marks took to the end zone.

Xavier Cooper bottled up Canada in the backfield and the freshman running back was held to just one long gain in the final period. Dylan Hanser and Marcellus Pippins also broke up passes.

Hanser and Frankie Luvu continued to see time with the second team defense. Luvu saw his first collegiate action against Utah last weekend and Hanser could play soon.

"Well, we've got a lot of guys that are stepping up and we're trying to get more guys on the field," Wilson said. "Coach Leach's thing is if you practice well you're going to play in the games and those guys have certainly stepped up in practice so we're going to give them a chance to play."

Defensive end Destiny Vaeao has missed the last two games and been limited in practice but he was back with the ones today. I did not see Kristoff Williams or Chester Su'a at practice.

Limited players were Nate DeRider, Isaac Dotson, Nick Begg, Mack Hopkins, Drew Springfield and Sherman Hutcherson.

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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