Washington State will hold 25 preseason practices before opening the season on Sept. 4 against Utah State. The Spokesman-Review will be in attendance for each of those, tracking the relevant storylines, notes, depth chart developments and key plays as the Cougars ramp up to the 2021 football season. Below are observations from the second day of fall camp in Pullman.
- We reported Friday that running back Deon McIntosh and wide receiver CJ Moore showed up late to the team’s initial practice and were therefore held out.
- Moore, the Oklahoma State transfer, was back with the team on Saturday, but McIntosh was absent for the second straight day. Coach Nick Rolovich said he anticipates the RB will be back with the team when the Cougars return to the practice field Monday.
- Other players who were absent from practice included safety Chad Davis Jr., defensive lineman David Gusta, defensive back Jackson Lataimua and offensive linemen Devin Kylany, Patrick Utschinski and Konner Gomness. Safety Tyrone Hill was at practice but did not participate and wide receiver Travell Harris was limited for the second straight day.
- One development not noted Friday was George Hicks III’s move to safety. Hicks has played in 33 games at cornerback the last four years, but given the team’s depth issues at safety, and the addition of Old Dominion cornerback transfer Kaleb Ford-Dement, the Cougars felt the fifth-year senior could provide more help elsewhere in the defensive secondary.
- Wide receiver Donovan Ollie, one of the players competing for a starting job on the outside, impressed during the 7-on-7 period and reeled in three passes – two from Cammon Cooper.
- For the second day in a row, the Cougars didn’t hold a full 11-on-11 period at the end of practice. The team has Sunday off, so there’s reason to think it’ll begin 11-on-11 work Monday when shoulder pads come on.
Keeping up with the QBs
Figuring Rolovich might again hold off on conducting the scrimmage-like team period near the end of practice, we tallied up pass completions during the 7-on-7 period – an exercise skipped on Friday. Because offensive and defensive linemen don’t participate in the 7-on-7 drill, quarterbacks don’t face a pass-rush and get to work without a congested pocket.
In theory, that should make it easier to complete a high percentage of passes. Only one WSU QB did that on Saturday, though. Each quarterback took eight snaps, split into two series, and Cooper completed 6 of his 8 passes. Moore dropped the two passes Cooper didn’t complete, so the redshirt junior wasn’t far from a perfect day.
Jarrett Guarantano finished 3 of 8 and threw incomplete on each of his last three passes.
Jayden de Laura was 4 of 8 and had one pass intercepted during his first series.
The returning starter could have easily thrown three picks, but different defensive backs dropped both of de Laura’s final two balls, squandering opportunities for the takeaway.
Three big plays
1. Through two days, no wide receiver has been more impressive than De’Zhaun Stribling, a big 6-foot-2 freshman Kapolei, Hawaii. On the final play of 7-on-7, Stribling rose up to snatch a high throw from Cooper in traffic, securing the ball with one hand before falling to the turf.
2. We won’t post many highlights from the 1-on-1, WR vs. DB portion of practice in these notes, but running back Max Borghi demonstrated his wideout chops during Saturday’s drill, burning past his defensive back and running a seam route to the end zone before hauling in a 40-yard pass.
3. The only interception of the 7-on-7 period came when de Laura’s throw over the middle was mishandled by Carter Kamana, who tipped it back to Hicks .
Playing center field, the newly converted safety was in the right spot to make the play and grabbed the ball before running the opposite way.
“I think for me, being whatever one this is for me, it helps being in so many, realizing what I can control and not worry about what plays get called for me or what the coaches say and just go out and be the best I can be every practice and make my teammates believe in me and just see what happens.”
– Quarterback Cammon Cooper on his experience with position battles at WSU.