Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Friday, October 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 45° Partly Cloudy

SportsLink

Peyton Bender ends spring on a high note

Washington State head coach Mike Leach, left, talks with quarterback Peyton Bender during the first half of an NCAA college football game against UCLA, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Pasadena, Calif. Bender will start the Apple Cup in place of injured starting QB Luke Falk. (Mark Terrill / Associated Press)
Washington State head coach Mike Leach, left, talks with quarterback Peyton Bender during the first half of an NCAA college football game against UCLA, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Pasadena, Calif. Bender will start the Apple Cup in place of injured starting QB Luke Falk. (Mark Terrill / Associated Press)

Washington State always hold a final practice after the spring game, for a variety of reasons. The most important of which is that by having the spring game before the spring practices conclude, the players and coaches are allowed to watch film of the spring game together. If the Crimson and Gray game had been the 15th practice, then they would not be allowed to.

It also provides an incentive for the players to keep their focus during the spring game, knowing they have to face their coaches on Tuesday. I didn't see anybody get rolled during today's practice, so the coaches must have felt the effort was adequate on Saturday.

Ultimately, WSU's final spring practice looked a lot like its first one. The Cougars began with a variety of drills, did some special teams work, and capped everything off with a team period.

The team period is where Peyton Bender came to life. The backup quarterback was not horrid during the Crimson and Gray game by any stretch – his touch touchdown pass to Tavares Martin was one of the best individual plays of the day – but his team lost and he didn't seem to think he played very well afterward.

Well it was Bender's turn to play in team period on Tuesday (he and Tyler Hilinski have been switching off every other day) and he made the most of it. He began the session with a series of body blows – short passes that brought the defense up to the line of scrimmage. A 15-yard pass to Martin, a five yarder to James Williams, 10 more yards to Martin.

Then Bender took the top off the defense with a beautiful pass over the safeties that hit Robert Lewis perfectly in stride for what ended up being a 62-yard score (let's say the ball traveled about 30 yards in the air). Bender hit Kyrin Priester for 20 yards, and then Martin for a 48-yard touchdown. (Wow, Martin sure made a lot of plays, too. Maybe I should have built the practice report around him. Oh well.)

At this point, the defense was pretty well scrambled. Gerard Wicks ran for a 43-yard touchdown on the very next play after Martin's score, and though Hercules Mata'afa came up with a sack and Marcellus Pippins broke up a pass, those were merely child's bandages on a gaping wound. Wicks ran in another score easily from 12 yards out and Kyle Sweet ended the drive by catching Bender's third touchdown pass, from about five yards out.

Since we haven't really addressed it yet, I'm pretty comfortable saying that Bender is securely the No. 2 quarterback behind Luke Falk right now. Obviously that could change, and I won't argue that Tyler Hilinksi had the better spring game. But I would argue that every team session is just as important to the coaches as the spring game, and possibly more so, when it comes to evaluations. Hilinski does a lot of things well, and it's obvious he's worked really hard to clear up the hitch in his throwing motion he showed as a freshmen. But he also threw a lot of interceptions this spring, and Bender made a bigger impact with his opportunities. Right now, I think Bender's ahead. Let's see where things stand at the end of preseason camp.

Hilinski got to run the skeleton drill, since Bender got the team period. His first pass was nearly intercepted by Deion Singleton, who recognized a hitch route and made a diving play to breakup the pass. Colton Teglovic did intercept Hilinski, who got a little greedy and threw a bomb to the end zone. But otherwise, the freshman QB had a solid day throwing the ball.

Falk has had better days. His first pass during team period was broken up by Shalom Luani, and he was intercepted by a leaping Frankie Luvu on a pass over the middle.

After team period, Mike Leach called for an overtime period. This was the second time this spring the Cougars have had an actual overtime period with game rules. The first time, Luani intercepted Falk's first pass. This time, Luani intercepted Falk's second pass.  Falk is doubtlessly glad Luani will be on his side during any actual overtime games next fall.

Hilinksi led the twos during the overtime period, passing the ball to Jamal Morrow and Sweet to set up a one-yard touchdown run for Alijah Lee.

*Programming note: We'll have our last WSU football chat of the spring at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, here on SportsLink.




You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
« Back to SportsLink

Jacob Thorpe
Jacob Thorpe joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the Sports Desk covering Washington State University athletics.

Follow Jacob online:






Looking for a Grip on Sports?

Vince Grippi's daily take on all things regional sports has been moved to our main sports section online. You can find a collection of these columns here.