Pads were popping on the Palouse as the Washington State Cougars practiced in shoulder pads and helmets for the first time. As expected, the intensity was dialed up a notch, and the tone was set right from the start. As practice began, the coaches had the entire team circle up, pitting a player from the offense and defense against each other in the middle in what was, essentially, a blocking drill mixed with a little sumo.
Connor Halliday did not practice again, going through the same routine he did on Saturday. Halliday took some snaps with the rest of the quarterbacks at the beginning of practice -- lightly throwing passes about five yards -- then went indoors for a while. He returned to watch practice, but did not participate. David Gilbertson split reps with Jeff Tuel in Halliday's place.
Hit the jump for bullet point notes and a few quotes from Tuesday's practice.
- Eric Morris played a little defensive back in the first session as the wide receivers ran fades. At one point, he went up and swatted a ball out of Dominique Williams' hands, and was always running stride-for-stride with the receivers. After running 30 yards down the field with Blair Bomber, the redshirt sophomore receiver exclaimed "Eric Morris: Receivers coach or all-pro corner?" while jogging back into line.
- Later, Bomber got into a scrap with Deone Bucannon after the two went to the ground during the team drills.
- In other hitting news, Carl Winston trucked Mike McAdie, who wears Alex Hoffman-Ellis' number in what's become a confusing sight. Winston was way down field near the end of a play and teed up McAdie, resulting in plenty of hoots and hollers.
- Some of you have asked about the offensive line, so this was the first team (from right to left): Dan Spitz, Elliott Bosch, Matt Goetz, Chas Sampson and John Fullington. The "second" team consisted of: Spitz, Bosch, Taylor Meighen, Zack Johnson and Gunnar Eklund. There's not much to read into this as the group rotates and switches on a play-to-play basis. However, it is interesting to note that Sampson and Bosch were getting plenty of first-team reps, and that Fullington was back outside at tackle for the moment.
- I counted 15 different players working out with Jeff Choate as he coached the linebackers during individual drills, and that doesn't include the "buck" linebackers Paul Volero was working with. Once again, Travis Long, Ian Knight, Logan Mayes and Jordan Pu'u-Robinson were working on technique with Volero. Depth, in a body sense, isn't as big of an issue as you may think.
- Darryl Monroe had another solid day and has been running at full-speed thus far -- just about six months after his Achilles injury. He was all over the place during various drills, making a few nice sticks along the way. Monroe progressing as expected would certainly help soften the blow of losing CJ Mizell in the middle.
- The first-team defense during team drills consisted of Xavier Cooper, Lenard Williams, Anthony Laurenzi, Eric Oertel, Darren Markle, Chester Su'a, Travis Long, Daniel Simmons, Deone Bucannon, Tyree Toomer and Damante Horton. And, again, this changes on a play-by-play basis, with different players rotating in and out in plug-and-play fashion. There's not a ton to read into it right now
- Aaron Dunn has also been a recurring question. He was not out at practice, though we don't know why -- could've been in class.
- Rahmel Dockery was back on the field, looking none worse for wear. He's working in somewhat of a fluid role, as well as with the punt and kick return teams.
- Rickey Galvin, Leon Brooks, Marquess Wilson, Gino Simone and Dockery were doing punt return work. After practice, that group was catching "kicks" from a Jugs machine, along with Daniel Simmons, Marcus Mason, Henry Eaddy, Kristoff Williams and Carl Winston.
- A large group of linemen were off on the other field catching kicks, and they were actually pretty good at it. This wasn't come competition, where we all laugh at the lineman, though. There was a purpose, Leach said: It was preparation for pooch kicks. Since these guys have a target on their backs when a team's trying to pooch, the staff figured it'd drill having them fair catch kicks.
- Did I mention special teams is a big emphasis? Because it is. Besides having the kickers work on their technique, a lot of time was spent working on coverage and blocking. There were full-team drills, as well as an entire session devoted to special teams. Groups of blockers, blockers who release, gunners and returners broke off and worked on technique individually with specific coaches.
- Jake Rodgers, Spencer Waseem, Adam Coerper and a few others were off to the side again. Nolan Washington practice for the majority of the time before going to work in the sand pit.
- Andrei Lintz had a nice day again, and we can probably copy and paste this for the rest of spring practice if the first week is any indication. We'll have more on Lintz later, but he's thriving in the freedom his new role affords. He used his body well over the middle a couple times, and also broke free and found himself wide open in the seam others. You'll find Lintz anywhere from catching passes in the backfield to hauling in grabs 30 yards down the field.
- Most of the offensive playbook is now installed, Leach said. They'll go back to the beginning and drill what they installed on the first day next practice. Leach said it's like a lather, rinse, repeat process for the offense, and there will be plenty of repetition involved.
- As Christian noted, Chandler Jenkins is no longer with the team. Kicker Wes Concepcion has joined the team.
- Tuesday's story of immediate redemption stars Tracy Clark. On one play, Clark was beat by Drew Loftus, who made a nice over-the-shoulder grab for a touchdown. After hearing it from the coaches, Clark picked off the next pass -- Loftus ran the wrong route, the ball sailed on Tuel and Clark was there to capitalize.
- Fullback-turned linebacker Corey Laufasa stepped in front of a David Gilbertson pass and intercepted it, showing some nice hands and good awareness.
- A context-free quote from Jeff Choate: "You get a heart transplant?"
- After practice, receivers were working on fades against a defender in the end zone. After Kristoff Williams made a nice grab, Leach pointed out how well the ball was thrown, saying "He took care of you on that one." Leach then got down onto his knees and waddled around, saying "I could've gone over there and got that one."