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WSU practice notes: Defense gets the turnovers it needs

Coaches challenged the regular defense at the start of Tuesday's practice to come up with six turnovers.

It took nearly all practice to get the job done. But when the dust settled, the Washington State defense didn't have six takeaways. It had seven.

Many of the turnovers were examples that proved a theory Mike Leach has espoused, that takeaways are byproducts of a defense flying around and playing with energy, rather than discrete efforts.

The third turnover the defense forced was a team effort in that regard, with Hunter Dale ripping the ball away from John Thompson while two other defenders forced the wide receiver to the ground.

The defense's fourth takeaway was an even better example. Kirkland Parker, who is listed as the backup strong safety in the school's pre-OSU notes but practiced at cornerback, broke up a pass by Peyton Bender in 7-on-7. Calvin Green, who played Nickel on Saturday at Oregon but safety today, was sprinting toward the play and made a diving interception.

The other turnovers forced by the defense were, in order, a Shalom Luani interception, a pick by Darrien Molton who ripped the ball out of Erik Anderson's hands while the receiver was still in the process of coming to the ground after jumping to make the catch, a Marcellus Pippins interception, Jeremiah Allison's interception on a pass over the middle and another interception by Green. Whew.

Here is what else I saw today:

-- Still no Isaac Dotson at practice today. Parker Henry continues to run with the ones. Treshon Broughton was Henry's backup. Wide receiver Dom Williams also wasn't at practice. CougCenter explains why here.

-- Erik Powell took four kicks. He missed the shortest attempt, then made the next three from progressively longer distances. Go figure.

-- The scout team had some fun running Oregon State's offense, with receiver Erik Anderson mimicking running quarterback Seth Collins. Anderson has a pretty slick juke move that he used to break Parker Henry's ankles on a designed run. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a counter yet, and Henry stopped him in his tracks when he tried the same move on the next play.

-- Mike Leach didn't appear to like what he saw from the scout defense on the opposite field. I couldn’t discern the cause of his ire, but the coach got pretty animated while making the defenders do up-downs.

-- Robert Barber had a good day during the one-on-one drill. The nose tackle blew past Riley Sorenson and Eduardo Middleton on his reps, forcing Middleton into an obvious holding penalty. The only downside was that after he got by Sorenson, he took too wide of a route that took him behind the quarterback. Darryl Paulo showed some great power in the drill, pushing Cole Madison back to the quarterback with a bull rush.

-- The defense locked the offense up pretty well during the seven-on-seven drill, at least at first. Broughton, Parker and Paris Taylor broke up passes from Peyton Bender on successive plays, with the Parker breakup leading to the aforementioned Green interception.

However, Luke Falk got the offense going during a third-and-long segment, converting for a first down on all five of his attempts.

-- Keith Harrington and Tavares Martin practiced kick returns. Martin played well and did nothing to imply he shouldn't continue to be the return man, but Harrington just looked so smooth during his reps.

-- Kyrin Priester had a good day of practice. He caught a couple of those flip passes the Cougars have been using in games and was able to pick up good yardage after the catch. He also had a nice touchdown reception from Falk.



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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