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Highlights and observations from Monday’s WSU practice

Washington State wrapped up another practice at its home-away-from-home in Lewiston, Idaho. Here is what I noticed on Monday:

-- Star receiver Gabe Marks did not finish practice. I did not see what happened to Marks, but here is a report from Stefanie Loh.

-- Freshman Justus Rogers had played quarterback since he enrolled early last spring to participate in spring practice, but practiced with the defense on Monday, primarily as a nickelback. There had been speculation that a position switch might be imminent ever since Rogers signed, due to his athleticism and the fact he played in such a run-heavy offense at Bellevue High. While the coaches will bring Rogers along slowly, and I would guess he will probably redshirt, he had a successful first day on defense by forcing a fumble during his first rep at a competitive tackle/evasion drill.

-- Mason Vinyard has had kind of an interesting role, despite the fact that the freshman is currently rocking a yellow jersey. He runs with the ones at Rush linebacker during the skeleton drill. No, that doesn't mean he's starting. The experienced Rush linebackers are doing a pass-rush drill against the offensive line during that period, so I assume Vinyard is more of a placeholder.

But, at 6-foot-5, 225-pounds he looks like a guy who could survive on a football field, and it's interesting the coaches have given him a little more responsibility.

-- The Cougars donned should pads for the first time today. They'll have another shoulder pads and helmets only practice, and then they can put on their full suits of armor.

-- Thought the cornerbacks had a really good day sticking to receivers and not getting beat on routes, even during one-on-ones and skeleton. Come to think of it, the defense as a whole had a good day, winning team period for the third consecutive practice (out of three total).

-- Logan Tago is pretty dominant during the pass rushing drills. When he signed, Mike Leach described him as a superlative athlete who could play six or seven positions. Since he arrived at WSU, I've seen him cover outside receivers one-on-one and line up on the interior defensive line, so Leach's statement seems pretty prescient.

Tago made the play of the day, intercepting a Tyler Hilinski pass with one hand while backed up against the goal line. Hilinski showed some wheels on the play before, scrambling for a 10-yard touchdown.

-- There's another crop of big freshmen offensive linemen, a group that is almost always going to be pretty raw. That's especially true at WSU, where the linemen have to get used to new splits and stances. That said, Keenen King had a good rep in the pass rush drill, standing up Hunter Mattox. Nilsson Gaisoa will be a good player, but the 6-foot-5, 315-pound true freshman struggled against a bull rush move that I doubt many people tried on him in high school.

-- Jamal Morrow had a nice  day running the ball, busting a couple long switchbacks.

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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