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Initial observations from WSU spring game

-- With just one practice left in the spring, Luke Falk is still the apparent starter at quarterback. While Peyton Bender made some nice plays on Saturday, he still makes more mistakes as well. He missed on one throw that ended up in defensive back Willie Roach's hands and tested long-armed cornerback Charleston White downfield despite the fact that White had good position on Gabe Marks, leading to another interception.

Falk, conversely, made safe, simple plays to keep the offense moving while waiting for his receivers to make plays or the defense to make a mistake, which eventually happened more often than not. He found the open receiver – usually Dom Williams – and accurately placed the ball so the receiver could make a play after the catch. He did take a shot downfield, trying to hit Robert Lewis when he got behind David Bucannon, but hung the ball up so Bucannon had time to recover and breakup the pass.

That's a play that the Cougars aren't going to have in their arsenal as much this year; last year Connor Halliday seemed to complete two of them a game to Vince Mayle, but neither of the quarterbacks this year have Halliday's cannon.

But Falk has his own strengths, such as a 12-yard run to pick up a first down when the defense was hanging back in coverage, which likely never would have even occurred to Halliday. Ultimately, while Bender pushed Falk this spring like a coach hopes a backup would, Falk played well enough to remain the favorite to start next fall.

-- Offensive lineman Carlos Freeman has come on at center this spring and has been running with the twos lately, splitting time there with Sam Flor. Freeman appears to have moved into the backup role and was the starting center for Gray on Saturday. Riley Sorenson remains the starting center and I don't see that changing.

-- Gerard Wicks seems to be the guy at running back right now, with Keith Harrington and Jamal Morrow providing depth and different looks. While Morrow was the starter last season, he got just four carries and one reception to Wicks' 10 carries and three catches.

The caveat is that Morrow missed some practice time and we don't know if he's 100 percent right now. But Wicks has run strong this spring. Keith Harrington was a good receiver out of the backfield, amassing 58 yards on 10 catches, but didn't do much in the running game. While Harrington's had a solid spring and doubtlessly earned a spot in the rotation, I expect the hard-running Wicks to get the plurality of the carries next season.

-- We didn't see much of Clemson transfer Kyrin Priester and the read here is that the coaches have scaled back his use since he won't be able to play next year, anyway. Priester is a physical receiver that still has some shake to his game, and will likely be a key player in 2016. He got some work at the end of the spring game, and actually subbed in earlier for the Crimson team, despite his gray jersey. He caught one pass and made a nice move to avoid Isaac Dotson, who came in pretty tentatively, and get upfield for 19 yards. But, I think he might have benefited slightly from wearing the same jersey as the defense on the play.

-- While the final score was Crimson 31, Gray 20, the score to remember is 31-17. That's what the difference was at the first drives of the fourth quarter when Mike Leach pulled the first units and took Bender and Falk out. Gray also took back-to-back fourth-quarter possessions, helping Tyler Hilinski to cut the score with touchdown passes to Erik Anderson and Zaire Andre.

-- While Deion Singleton lined up at cornerback, I'm not sure that means he's made a complete switch to safety. With Charlesotn White and walk-on Brendan Hay the only corners on the Crimson roster, I expect the coaches were merely doing what they could to make the depth work. Jeff Farrar, a cornerback who appears to have fallen down the depth this spring, was listed as a DB.

Colton Teglovic started at nickelback for his squad and remains the primary backup to Darius Lemora at that position.

-- Erik Powell made a 42-yard field goal and Quentin Breshears missed from 20-yards out. Based on that, I'll call Powell the front-runner for the kicking job heading into the summer.



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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