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Sports >  WSU football

Observations and notes from day two of Washington State preseason football camp

WSU's Skyler Thomas (25) and Renard Bell (4) battle for a loose ball during practice on Friday, August 3, 2018, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
WSU's Skyler Thomas (25) and Renard Bell (4) battle for a loose ball during practice on Friday, August 3, 2018, at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

The Cougars moved things to Lewiston and Sacajawea Junior High for the second day of preseason camp. Here are the observations, notes and highlights from day No. 2.

Observations and notes

– The Cougars kept the pads off for the second day in a row. They’ll strap on shoulder pads tomorrow, then put on full pads Tuesday.

– Mike Leach will continue to rotate three quarterbacks – Trey Tinsley, Gardner Minshew and Anthony Gordon – in and out of skeleton and team periods. It was Tinsley and Minshew Friday, but Tinsley and Gordon Saturday. Leach is looking to narrow down the field to two before choosing his starter. But merely finding the top two could still take anywhere from a few days to a week.

– WSU held three separate special teams periods during practice. Jack Crane, Ryan Henderson and Blake Mazza all got work on kickoff team and a large group of returners stood in the end zone, awaiting their boots. Travell Harris and Keith Harrington were the primary kick returners, but Jamire Calvin, James Williams, Max Borghi and Renard Bell all got work as well.

– And here’s how the kickers fared: Crane made a 34-yarder but missed a 42-yarder, Henderson made a 34-yarder and a 40-yarder, Mazza made a 39-yarder and a 45-yarder.

– Cougar legend Drew Bledsoe, as he’s been known to do, made a cameo at Sacajawea Junior High. Bledsoe’s son John is a redshirt freshman walk-on for the Cougars.

– A freshly painted Cougar logo awaited the team on the 50-yard line of their temporary practice venue at Sacjawea.

Highlights

– True freshman receiver Drue Jackson made a few physical catches with Marcus Strong draped all over him during the 1-on-1 period. After the first grab, Strong commented that the receiver “has some long (bleep) arms.”

– Strong finally got the best of Jackson on their third matchup, swatting a pass to the ground before the receiver could corral it.

– In the skeleton period, freshman safety Tyrese Ross got a few levels off the ground to bat down a ball from Tinsley intended for Jamire Calvin.

– Later on in skelly, Tinsley placed a ball over the second level of the defense, between three defensive backs and finally into the arms of Renard Bell who scampered away for a touchdown.

– There haven’t been many interceptions through two days, but I might need three hands to count the number of near-interceptions. Peyton Pelluer and Dominick Silvels both had passes graze through their hands during skeleton.

– Receiver Tay Martin and cornerback Darrien Molton had an entertaining back and forth during the 1-on-1 portion of practice. Martin claimed repeatedly Molton was holding, but from Molton’s perspective, Martin was the one initiating the contact. Molton broke up two passes to Martin, before Martin finally beat him to the end zone though the receiver couldn’t hang onto Gordon’s pass.

– Linebacker Dillon Sherman stoned James Williams at the line of scrimmage for no gain during the first series of the team period.

– Gordon completed his 12th pass of the team period to Keith Harrington on a wheel route that went for a 7-yard touchdown.

– His 13th completion was a dart to Calvin in the end zone that somehow zipped between Chima Onyeukwu and Pelluer.

– The opening play of Tinsley’s team series was a shovel pass to Max Borghi, who caught the ball and turned upfield for a 40-plus yard gain that took him all the way to the other 20-yard line.

– Williams fumbled near the left sideline later on in the series. It was unclear who got the rip, but corner Isaiah Love emerged from the scrum with the recovered ball.

– Calvin managed to come up with a 25-yard reception despite being pinned by two defensive backs as the ball flew into his hands.

– Martin ran for a 27-yard touchdown after catching a pass from Tinsley and evading Sean Harper Jr. with a nifty juke move.

Keeping up with the QBs

Anthony Gordon: None of the quarterbacks on this roster throw a better-looking ball than Gordon, who might win the competition going away if we were only judging spirals and release. Gordon looked decisive and confident in his first team period this fall camp, completing 13-of-16 passes and 10 of his first 11. His series concluded with an incompletion, but Gordon reaffirmed he’s still very much a part of this competition.

Trey Tinsley: Tinsley also recorded just three incomplete passes, albeit on two fewer passing attempts, closing out his series 11-of-14. The redshirt junior got the first set of reps during skeleton period and was about as accurate during that segment of the practice session as he was in 11-on-11. Tinsley and Gardner Minshew are similar in their vocal leadership and are generally a few of the more animated Cougars after a big play.

Gardner Minshew: After working with the No. 1 skeleton group and repping in the team period Friday, Minshew ran with the No. 2 skelly on Saturday and observed during 11-on-11.

Cammon Cooper: The QB competition is feeling more and more like a three-man race at this stage. After working into the team period regularly this spring, Cooper’s yet to earn a series in the fall and has worked with the second skeleton group both days.

Quotable

“We’re going to kind of move them around and get a view of things and get an idea. Which that’s the toughest thing about it, because you like to pack all the reps into two guys, but we’ve got some tough decisions to make and we’ve just got to go out there, get them out there, look at them and see where we’re at.” – Mike Leach, on the quarterback competition.

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