A daily fall practice update from The Spokesman-Review’s Washington State beat writer, Theo Lawson (@TheoLawson_SR). We set the scene, list the day’s important notes, highlight one big play, pick the standouts and slip-ups, track the quarterback race and dissect one talking point from post-practice interviews.
Setting the scene
Where: Rogers Field in Pullman
Start/finish: 3:30 p.m./6:15 p.m.
Temperature: 90 degrees, sunny
Equipment: Shoulder pads and helmets
- As the Cougars approach the Aug. 31 season opener, practices will start to resemble the mid-week sessions the team holds throughout the fall, rather than the ones we’ve seen during preseason camp. Tuesday’s format was different with a much heavier influx of scout team work during the skeleton passing period and team period near the end of practice. That means the last two practice reports – Tuesday and Wednesday are the last ones media can attend – will also be abbreviated. As usual, we’ll pass along notes, a brief update on the quarterbacks and a talking point, but we’ll omit our “One big play” as well as the “Standouts and slip-ups” section.
- There are a few number changes on the WSU roster to note. Defensive lineman Brennan Jackson switched from No. 94 to No. 80. Long snapper Simon Samarzich swapped No. 35 for No. 34.
- The non-participants were wide receiver Jamire Calvin, quarterback John Bledsoe, wide receiver Billy Pospisil and defensive end Nnamdi Oguayo and offensive lineman Austin Martin. Linebacker Dillon Sherman, offensive tackle Jarrett Kingston and center Fred Mauigoa all returned to practice as limited participants. Linebacker Rocky Katoanga and nickel Skyler Thomas did not finish practice.
- Players were not made available to the media Tuesday because practice ran long and the Cougars had to rush to an all-athlete event. But coach Mike Leach and running backs coach Eric Mele both still spoke to the media.
Mike Leach acknowledged the transition between regular camp practices and “mock week” practices can be challenging – not only for WSU but for just about every team in America. Though, he was still optimistic his team would be be able to avoid the “break in” period that often can be sluggish and lackadaisical. The Cougars didn’t, leaving Leach dissatisfied with the effort of both his scout team and varsity bunch. The coach huddled the offense after the fifth play of the team period and instructed them to work harder after Anthony Gordon threw an interception and Travell Harris dropped a pass in the first five plays. “I think our scout team’s got to play harder and I think our varsity’s got to play harder. It’s part of the processs, I’m disappointed we went through the same thing we go through – teams everywhere do every year. We will do some extracurricular work if we don’t make this adjustment overnight, so I suspect we will and we generally do.”
Blake Mazza and Jack Crane each took two swings at the uprights Tuesday. Mazza made a 32-yarder and 42-yarder while Crane hit a 44-yarder and a 36-yarder.
Keeping up with the QBs
While I still tracked completions, incompletions, touchdowns and interceptions Tuesday, those numbers weren’t as significant as the number of snaps Anthony Gordon and Gage Gubrud each took Tuesday, and the significance of those numbers.
Leach told two reporters Sunday night if the season started today, “We’d play Gordon.” Then a source confirmed Monday to The Spokesman-Review Gordon would be taking two-thirds of the practice snaps this week. That held true, to a T actually, as the redshirt senior got 26 snaps during the team period while Gubrud has just 13.
And Leach plans to use that same model going forward: “Yes, for now, for sure.”
Gordon opened the team series, taking each of the first nine snaps. His second throw was underthrown and low enough to allow linebacker Justus Rogers to tip it to himself. Rogers made the interception – Gordon’s first since the fifth day of training camp – and ran it back for a would-be touchdown.
The No. 1 defense played just five snaps before moving over to the practice field to work against the scout team offense. The scout team defense worked against the No. 1 offense the rest of the way.
Gubrud followed with 10 plays before he was relieved by Gordon, who took the next 11 snaps. Gubrud was subbed in for three more plays and Gordon finished the period off with the last five.
In total, Gordon was 13-of-17 while Gubrud was 8-of-10. Gordon did throw one “touchdown” to Tay Martin while Gubrud didn’t have any, though it was difficult to distinguish which plays might have gone for scores because the series wasn’t treated like a traditional team period.
“He’s from Haiti originally and he started as a kicker in high school, so last year it was kind of run right, run left a little bit for 60 carries and almost 500 yards in a game. So we’ve had to identify who the “Mike” linebacker is. He didn’t know who Mike was and I told him it’s the “Mike” linebacker. So we had to figure that out. That was early on in camp. But he loves football, sponge, do whatever you tell him to do. So, the faster you get it, the better it’ll be. If we can get him on the field, we’d love to get him on the field.”
– Running backs coach Eric Mele, on true fresman Jouvensly Bazil, the Florida speedster who’s still relatively new to the game.
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