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WSU practice notes: Defense steps up

It was a mostly one-sided affair as soon as the team split up for drills, with the defensive backs smothering the wide receivers in the WR vs. DB drill, leading to 10 up-downs for the offense. There were a few impressive performances by the receivers – Zaire Andre had a good day and the freshman duo of Kyle Sweet and Tavares Martin Jr. just keeps getting better – but as a unit the receivers struggled to gain separation from the defenders.

Marcellus Pippins has been matched up with Dom Williams a lot lately and the senior receiver has been winning most of the battles. But Pippins got the best of him on consecutive reps, staying on the receiver's hip and sticking an arm into Williams' breadbasket to knock the football away.

-- Speaking of receivers, we're going to take a little break here to provide an update on the Kyrin Priester appeal. Normally, the receiver would need to sit out a year after transferring from another FBS school. But it appears the Cougars are asking for a "run-off waiver," which allows athletes that have transferred because would no longer have the opportunity to play at their previous school to avoid sitting out a year before playing for their new team. Priester was dismissed from the Clemson football team, meaning he would be eligible for the waiver if WSU can provide the NCAA with documentation demonstrating he could not return to Clemson and play, proof that Priester is in good academic standing at WSU and a written statement from Clemson indicating that it supports the waiver request.

Page No. 15 of this document contains the official NCAA guidelines for the waiver.

So, it is indeed very likely that Priester will be able to play for the Cougars this fall and he figures to make an immediate impact as a wide receiver and probably as a return man.

-- Anyway, back to practice. Brett Schafer took the reps as field goal kicker today and had a rough go of it. Two of his kicks were blocked, two missed to the left and he finished 1-of-5 with a long of 30. Wide receiver Kaleb Fossum was his holder.

-- Still no Thomas Toki. tweeted that he will be delaying his enrollment until January.  But Calvin Green returned to practice and was wearing a white jersey. Mike Leach confirmed after practice that he is practicing as a defensive back, although it has not been decided whether he will play cornerback, safety or nickel. Green will still have to wait the required acclimation practices before he can wear pads.  Also at practice was Quentin Breshears, who I had not yet seen at practice.

I also didn't see long snapper Amosa Sakaria, who has been limited in previous practices. The limited players on Friday were C.J. Dimry, Destiny Vaeao and Dylan Hanser.

-- Chandler Leniu may be big – linebackers coach Ken Wilson told me he's around 250-pounds right now – but he's kept his speed. He showed some impressive burst to catch Keith Harrington from behind in the backfield.

-- The defense made things tough for quarterback Peyton Bender, who was under constant pressure and unofficially completed 6 of 15 passes with a pair of interceptions. The first came at the hands of Reggie Coates, who was up on the line of scrimmage to rush the passer and stuck a mitt up when Pender tried to complete a quick pass, knocking the ball to himself. The second interception was made by Parker Henry. Bender did settle into a rhythm midway through the session, completing three consecutive passes including a touchdown pass to John Thompson.

-- Luke Falk had more success, completing five of his first six passes. Keith Harrington fumbled the ball after one of those passes, however, and safety Isaac Dotson nailed Gerard Wicks in the backfield on a run play. Darius Lemora broke up a pass and Ivan McLennan sacked Falk, but the offense broke things open when Falk found Gabe Marks on the sideline. Marks shook free of Kirkland Parker, who was grabbing the receiver's facemask, while making the catch and then scooted into the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown. Marks almost had a second touchdown when he sat in a space in front of the end zone on a mesh route but was stopped short by Peyton Pelluer. Falk then found River Cracraft for the score.

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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