For awhile, it looked like the offense would have its own version of Saturday's defensive showcase. But the defense had its own reasons to be pleased.
Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch was frustrated with some easy touchdowns by the offense that were the result of defensive players mixing up their assignments or losing sight of the offensive player, particularly during the skeleton drill and the WR vs. DB drill.
And the offense certainly won that portion of practice, thanks in no small part to a very large receiver.
C.J. Dimry, a junior college transfer, is listed at 6-foot-5, 200-pounds. He has some impressive mitts to go with that size and has been snagging everything thrown at him through two days in camp. When the wide receivers went one-on-one versus the defensive backs at the goal line, Dimry hauled in a pair of one-handed touchdowns, using his body to shield the defender away from the left corner of the end zone and snagging the ball high in the air.
Here's some other stuff I saw at practice…
-- It looked like Amosa Sakaria, a freshman from Pago Pago, American Samoa, was taking some reps at long snapper. The roster also lists Kyle Celli and Lucas Gravelle at the position.
-- The WR vs. DB drill has gotten pretty competitive, and today a couple freshmen receivers mixed it up for the offense. Tavares Martin Jr. continues to hold his own and Kyle Sweet made a great catch against the sideline.
-- The Cougars did some punting today. Matt Abramo did not participate – he was limited – but left-footed Erik Powell did a nice job. Zach Charme also received some punting reps, but Powell was clearly getting better distance/height.
-- One player that seems to really be coming into his own is Robert Lewis. Lewis, a redshirt sophomore that has seemingly been at WSU forever, is a favorite target of the quarterbacks during practice and he frequently rewards them. He's always been quick, but he's got other elements to his game besides the make-you-miss quality one would expect. For example, during the skeleton drill he turned Kirkland Parker around on a wheel route and broke free upfield. Luke Falk's pass was overthrown, but Lewis managed to catch up to it and lay out for a diving, fingertip grab in the end zone.
Speaking of Parker, he's a player the coaches are taking a long look at as a backup cornerback. He'll have better days than Sunday, when he kept getting matched up against Dom Williams. Parker won one such battle, but Williams is a tough cover and gave the sophomore transfer a few "welcome to the Pac-12" moments.
-- At the start of skeleton drill, it appeared that Sunday's practice would be a repeat of Saturday's, in which the defense came away with a gaggle of interceptions. After completing his first pass, to River Cracraft, Falk threw a pass right to safety Isaac Dotson, who easily picked it off. John Thompson dropped the next pass and things could have gotten hairy. But Falk completed 11 of his next 13 passes, including the aforementioned touchdown to Lewis.
Peyton Bender was dropping dimes during the skeleton drill, although his first touchdown pass wasn't pretty, bouncing off Parker Henry's helmet and landing in Jamal Morrow's hands. His second touchdown pass to Lewis was way too easy, somebody clearly forgot to cover the receiver. Still, he completed his first six passes, the seventh was a drop, and the eighth was a beautiful, arcing throw that went right over two defenders to hit a streaking Gabe Marks in stride in the end zone.
Afterwards, running back Gerard Wicks chided the defense: "You all are quiet today!"
Bender did have a pass broken up by Kirkland, who was covering Dom Williams, and Shalom Luani, a junior college transfer who saw time with the second team alongside freshman Hunter Dale, intercepted his final pass before the skeleton drill was moved closer to the end zone.
-- Parker intercepted Bender's pass on the first play of team period. But Bender came back and found Marks deep up the right sideline. He also hit Lilienthal but the receiver dropped a pass from Bender for the second time of the day. Other highlights were a touchdown pass to John Thompson against the first-team defense and a pass breakup on the goal line by Luani.
Falk's first pass of team period was incomplete and he was sacked by Robert Barber on the second play. He completed his next four passes, but the first team defense was able to get consistent pressure. Darryl Paulo and Daniel Ekuale each sacked Falk and the quarterback had to throw away a pass, and might have drawn a flag for intentional grounding if this had been a game. The sacks masked a skillful performance in which Falk completed eight consecutive passes during one stretch before a goal line pass was broken up by Charleston White. Falk found River Cracraft for a touchdown on the ensuing play.