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WSU practice notes: The Pac-12 comes to Pullman

The Pac-12 Networks was in Martin Stadium on Thursday, filming for the WSU edition of Training Camp, a school-by-school preview show.

The show consists of practice footage and interviews with players and coaches, and will air at 6 p.m. on Friday on all seven networks.

Because the TV folks were in town, Thursday's practice was earlier and a little shorter than most. It also meant we weren't able to talk as many players and coaches as usual. But here are the highlights:

-- Luke Falk ran the first team offense after ceding the quarterback spot to Peyton Bender on Wednesday. The two quarterbacks rotated days in the starting position last spring, and it seems likely that will continue if coach Mike Leach is taking a closer look at Bender.

-- Cornerback Charleston White has been a limited participant the last couple days, lining up in drill work but not taking part in the heavy-contact team period. What's been interesting the last two days however, is that when the defense does scout work early in practice, it's freshman Darrien Molton that runs with the first unit at the cornerback spot opposite White, not Marcellus Pippins.

Now, there could be a few reasons for this. The most likely seems to be that the coaches are just getting a look at Molton at the right cornerback spot typically occupied by Pippins. It doesn't seem likely that they just want to throw him in the with the ones, since they had plenty of opportunities to see him work the other side of the field when White was out, but may now just want to see how he holds up on the right side. Or maybe he's played well enough in recent practices to pass Pippins on the depth chart, but I'd still be a little surprised if Pippins isn't the starter against Portland State.

-- I didn't see Keith Harrington at practice today. I suspect he's limited, due to recent events. I did see Suli Hameed in street clothes watching practice. Still no sign of Treshon Broughton or Barry Ware – if they're not at practice next Tuesday, once school starts, then it's hard to imagine them being big contributors this season.

-- Bender started off well during his time running the offense in team period, but avoided disaster when Parker Henry broke up a pass linebacker Frankie Luvu was in the process of intercepting. A couple plays later, Bender got some more good fortune, throwing a short pass to Kyrin Priester on the sideline, about 30-yards from the end zone. The receiver slipped past one defender and got upfield in a hurry, trucking safety Willie Roach the last couple yards for a score. Bender later threw a seven-yard strike to Daniel Lilienthal for a score and found Kyrin Priester for a third touchdown, from five yards out, which led to an emphatic spike from the receiver.

-- Falk had some trouble with (stop me if you've heard this before) the pass rush during his team period, getting sacked early by Hercules Mata'afa and Jeremiah Mitchell.  Leach, tired of watching his quarterback practice skills such as racing out of the pocket and throwing the ball away, stopped the session to make the offensive line do up-downs. The extra conditioning must have resonated, or at least not tired the players out too much, because the defense went sackless the rest of the practice.

If there's one thing that getting chased around has done for Falk, however, it's that he seems to have really improved at throwing while on the run. Some of his best throws so far have come after he's bailed out of the pocket and begun sprinting at the line of scrimmage, forcing the defense to creep up. On Thursday he nailed River Cracraft for an eight-yard touchdown after a short scramble and tapped the well again on the next play, hitting Cracraft from five-yards out. Pippins prevented a third touchdown, breaking up a pass intended for Gabe Marks.

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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