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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


WSU offense overcomes early drops in Thursday’s practice

It's doubtful either the Washington State offense or defense came away fully satisfied with Thursday's practice.

Today was practice No. 7 for the Cougars, meaning they're a little more than halfway to the Crimson and Gray game, which will be practice No. 14 of 15.  So at this point, the players are starting to get pretty sore. But during the season they will exist in a state of perpetual soreness, and the receivers and running backs are going to have to catch better than they did on Thursday, which saw an exorbitant number of dropped passes.

To rectify that, the offensive skill position players stayed after practice for a little extra development – catching a couple hundred passes each. Still, most of the drops came early in practice, and the offense rebounded to win the skeleton drill and team period. Read more about that in our notes below.

-- I watched the specialists a little bit early in practice. Erik Powell made consecutive kicks from 45, 40 and 35 yards, with no defenders or anything.

-- There was some movement on defense today. Freshman safety Jalen Thompson ran with the ones, and played pretty well, while Charleston White moved back to cornerback. White played with the ones today, while Marcellus Pippins was limited in practice.

-- The offense won the skeleton drill, but not without some hiccups. There were drops early, particularly from the running backs, and White stripped Isaiah Johnson when the freshman receiver tried to extend a short gain.

The offense picked up when Tyler Hilinski came in at quarterback, and completed a series of intermediate passes to Kyrin Priester, Jamal Morrow and Kaleb Fossum.

The drill then moved toward the end zone, and Luke Falk threw a quick pass to Kyrin Priester, who trucked Thompson at the goal line and scored. Thompson bounced back quickly, reading Falk's eyes on the next play to intercept his pass in the end zone.

An offensive player also had a nice two-play improvement. Kyle Sweet drew the ire of inside receivers coach JaMarcus Shephard when he ran a route just short of the goal line and was stopped short after making a catch. Sweet took the coaching and scored on the next play.

--- The running backs set an early tone for the offense during team period. Peyton Bender's first pass went to James Williams, who gained nearly 30 yards before he was brought down, thanks in part to some nice downfield blocking by offensive guard B.J. Salmonson. Williams and Gerard Wicks each also had runs of about 15 yards, while on defense Nnamdi Oguayo sacked Bender on one play, and on another Kirkland Parker stripped Robert Lewis to force a fumble that bounced out of bounds. Bender ended his session leading the offense by throwing a touchdown pass to Kyle Sweet.

During Falk's time leading the offense during team period, the offense had pretty consistent success, thanks in part to a 15-20 yard scramble from the quarterback, who caught the defense napping. Wicks also had a gain of about 40 yards on a rush, although he may have fumbled at the end of the run. Williams had a 15-yard rush, and Tavares Martin caught three balls, including a 12-yard touchdown after running a crisp route to take Deion Singleton inside and then break back out to the sideline.

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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