The patch of grass at Sacajawea Junior High didn’t get any cooler Monday afternoon as Washington State slogged through its fourth day of fall practice, and third in Lewiston. Here’s what we noted and observed.
Notes and observations
– The quarterback competition looked like it would exclusively be a three-man club going forward after Trey Tinsley, Anthony Gordon and Gardner Minshew were the only passers to get skeleton and team period reps Friday through Sunday. That changed Monday when Cammon Cooper was thrown back into the mix, partaking in skeleton and running behind center during the first series of 11-on-11. “(Leach) was telling us we’d rotate all week,” Cooper said, “so last night I found out.”
– Will Cooper stay in the rotation going forward? “We’re trying to look at all of them, but we’ve got to move as fast as we can,” Leach said. “So we’ll look at film and evaluate from there.”
– The Cougars worked punt return before team period. The returners, from what I could tell, were Travell Harris, Jamire Calvin and Calvin Jackson Jr. Oscar Draguicevich and Oliver Graybar were the punters.
– The first skirmish of fall camp broke out during Monday’s session. Linebacker Jahad Woods and offensive lineman Liam Ryan engaged in a small shoving match and a few others jumped in to separate. The whole thing lasted no longer than 30 seconds.
– A few different offensive line pairings were utilized during the team period. Cooper worked behind the projected starting five of Andre Dillard (LT), Josh Watson (LG), Fred Mauigoa (C), Robert Valencia (RG) and Abraham Lucas. Tinsley started with Dillard, Watson, Brian Greene, Hunter Mayginnes and Valencia, but finished with the five starters.
– The Cougars were in shoulder pads only for the second day in a row, but they’ll bring out full pads Tuesday and keep them on for two days before their varsity short practice on Thursday, which equates to a walkthrough leading up to Friday’s scrimmage.
– Wide receiver Kyle Sweet was a non-participant during practice, while running back Max Borghi, defensive lineman LaMonte McDougle and nickel Kedron Williams were limited participants. Defensive end Nnamdi Oguayo was not in attendance Monday.
– Let’s open with one-on-ones. Tinsley, after directing freshman receiver Rodrick Fisher to “just run” aired out a 20-yard throw to the wideout, who burned by his defender and caught the pass over his left shoulder.
– Myles Green-Richards, a freshman cornerback from Eugene, poked the ball out of Tay Martin’s hands after the receiver brought it in, saving a would-be touchdown during one-on-ones.
– On the opening play of skeleton period, Cooper mistimed a throw across the middle of the field and threw into the hands of linebacker Fa’vae Fa’vae, who had a herd of defensive teammates follow him as he ran the ball the other way.
– Cooper bounced back a few plays later with a long, precise throw to Martin that went about 35 yards down the left sideline.
– Calvin Jackson stuck a pass from Cooper on the right sideline as he was being wrapped up by George Hicks, then held the ball up to show he’d kept his hands on it.
– A learning moment for Drue Jackson came in the skeleton period, when the true freshman receiver was jogging toward the goal line and watched corner Sean Harper Jr. practically come out of nowhere to knock the ball and through the back of the end zone.
– Rush linebacker Chima Onueukwu muscled through the offensive line on the third play of Cooper’s team series to tap-sack the young QB. Defensive lineman Willie Rodgers III put the pressure on Cooper just two plays later, reaching the QB before he could get the ball out.
– Next to the int. in skeleton, the play Cooper probably wishes he could have back was a 10-yard throw to Martin that sailed at least five feet over the receiver’s head.
– Onyeukwu nearly made a diving pick on Cooper in the end zone, but the ball grazed off his hand as he fell to the turf.
– Cooper capped his series on a high note, throwing a 6-yard touchdown dart to Arconado in traffic.
– On the first play of Tinsley’s series, the quarterback checked to a run play and handed off to Keith Harrington who busted through a truck-sized hole and ran about 60 yards on the left sideline before finally going out of bounds.
– Calvin Jackson, who now is being referred to as “Netflix” by a number of his teammates and coaches, pulled off a sweet juke move after hauling in a short pass from Tinsley. Jackson cut inside, then quickly shifted outside to lose his defender and pick up another 5-10 yards.
– Arconado brushed off a tackle after catching Tinsley’s pass, then stiff-armed a defender as he ran across the field for what ended up being about a 15-yard pickup.
– Hicks had an impressive pass deflection on a ball intended for Renard Bell in the end zone that seemed to rile the defense up on the sideline.
– Arconado joined the two-touchdown club on the second to final play of practice when Tinsley rolled out to his left, bided his time and then fired to the inside receiver in the end zone for a 9-yard score. The play was the result of strong effort from the O-line more than anything else and Tinsley commended them, shouting “Good job up front” after the play ended.
– The loudest PBU of the day came on the final snap when Kendrick Nunn leapt across the end zone to slap down Tinsley’s pass attempt to Travell Harris.
Keeping up with the QBs
Cammon Cooper: The rookie QB could’ve definitely been more productive in his first series of camp and Cooper admitted so afterward in his first group interview as a Cougar. He finished 6-of-9 passing by my count and would’ve thrown a few more balls had he not taken two sacks and been run out of bounds on another play. That isn’t to say Cooper was awful, or anything close to it. The Utah native unleashed a few beauties and may throw the best-looking ball of any WSU QB not named Anthony Gordon. But he was too indecisive at times Monday and perhaps hasn’t fully adjusted to the speed of play yet.
Trey Tinsley: After sitting out Sunday, Tinsley made his way back into the rotation Monday and is now the only QB to have participated in three team periods. Tinsley was decisive and energetic, just not as accurate as he’s been to this point in camp. He completed just 8-of-13 throws – one of those was an inexcusable drop from Tay Martin – and threw incomplete on three of his last four attempts. But credit the former walk-on for making the right call on the first play of his 11-on-11 series. Leach’s play call gave him three choices and Tinsley elected for a handoff to Harrington, who exploded for a 60-yard gain that would’ve set the offense up on the porch of the end zone.
“Well, I thought he had a really good offseason as far as lifting and getting in shape and stuff like that. And over time, he’ll operate quicker than he does now. So slow on some stuff, throws the ball pretty good, just being decisive.” – Mike Leach on freshman QB Cammon Cooper.
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