Sat., Aug. 22, 2015
WSU practice notes: Cougars scrimmage again
Prior to Saturday's scrimmage, the Cougars spent about 50 minutes bouncing around, warming up and doing some drill work. None of it was particularly interesting from a spectator-perspective, although it does appear that Zach Charme is rounding into form at punter. The freshman from Boise still seems to have some trouble placing the ball where he wants it, but his kicks have good height and travel far.
Tyler Baker, Dylan Hanser, Keith Harrington, Logan Tago, and C.J. Dimry were limited. Logan Tago and Suli Hameed were in street clothes. I would tell you that Barry Ware and Treshon Broughton weren't at practice, but I only care about the players that are there.
The stats from the scrimmage are available on the blog, and here are some things that stood out to me:
-- River Cracraft led the receivers with eight catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. A cynic would point out that with Tyler Baker limited, Cracraft also played a lot of snaps on Saturday. But that would be beside the point. The receiver has steadily gotten more involved in the offense throughout the preseason and appears to be rounding into form as the offense's safety-blanket right in time for the start of the season. Cracraft played a lot of snaps and he was open a lot, and probably should have been targeted by the quarterbacks even more than he was.
-- James Williams played in the first scrimmage and has gotten some other live action, but Saturday was the first time we got much of an extended look at the freshman running back who position coach Jim Mastro thinks so highly of. He did not disappoint. Running behind an offensive line that, while big, is still getting its act together, Williams ran for nine yards on each of his first two carries.
Williams' running-style, from what I've seen, can best be described as a blend of teammates Gerard Wicks and Jamal Morrow. He's more elusive than you think – he's pretty stout for a freshman – and he runs to avoid defenders, not truck them. But he can break free of a tackle and doesn't get caught up in the muck very often, and he's got some power.
He's also got some hops. He turned a short pass into 11-yards by hurdling freshman safety Kameron Powell.
-- Colton Teglovic made a great play to rip the ball away from tight end Nick Begg after a 10-yard reception.
-- Darryl Paulo could be a guy who breaks out his redshirt senior season. He had a couple sacks today – Kingston Hernandez also had two – and just seems to have a really good sense of where the quarterback is at all times and takes good routes to get to the sack, unlike other players who need to beat their offensive lineman first, then figure out where the guy with the ball is.
-- I thought the starting offensive line had one of its better days. Luke Falk's first touchdown pass went to Dom Williams from five yards out, and the play must have lasted a good six or seven seconds. Falk had time to wait, check all his reads, and wait for Williams to break open in the back of the end zone and never needed move from his initial space.
The group also blocked well in the run-game. They sprang Gerard Wicks for a 22-yard run (he helped himself with a powerful stiff-arm of Hunter Dale), but it was called back because receiver Robert Lewis held a defender, taking him to the ground.
-- Tavares Martin Jr., should have a touchdown in the stats. Sorry, officials, but when a player reaches the ball across the end zone and doesn't lose control of it until after the ball (and his knees) have touched the ground, that's a touchdown. Martin Jr. caught the ball at the five-yard line and fought through a couple defenders prior to what should have been a scoring dive.)
-- There wasn't much action for the field goal kickers, besides extra points. Erik Powell made his one attempt, from 32-yards. Brett Schafer made a 26-yarder and came up seven or eight yards short on a 50-yard attempt.
-- Shalom Luani made a great play on fourth down, jarring D.J. Thompson with a big hit as the receiver tried to make a catch that would have given the first-team offense a first down against the second-team defense.
Isaac Dotson and Darius Lemora also caused some jarring collisions on Saturday, and Peyton Pelluer made a heck of a play to find Wicks in the backfield and drag him down for a five-yard loss.