The gray beat the crimson team, or something like that, on Saturday during the Washington State Cougars' final spring scrimmage, but the stars, not the score, mattered. The tone was set early -- Marquess Wilson gathered in a pass from Jeff Tuel on the third play of the "game" and scampered some 80 yards for the touchdown, outrunning everyone in the process. It was a recurring theme for Wilson, who hauled in a few big catches and responded to Leach's not-so-subtle criticism of his efforts in practice.
It was a different experience in Spokane this year, thanks to the buzz created by the hiring of Mike Leach. An announced attendance of 10,713 was more than double last year's attendance, and the crowd seemed to be into the events, even if it was a glorified team drill session -- more of less. The spring game was a building block again, with the university hoping to see it grow more and more as the years progress.
If you were wondering, I was up at 4 a.m. Eastern to drive from Washington D.C. to Baltimore in order to catch an 8 a.m. Eastern flight. After six hours in the air and an hour and a half layover, I made it to Spokane, then hustled to the stadium to catch the game. You think you were dedicated to the spring game? Beat that.
As for the game itself, hit the jump for some notes.
- This was Mike Leach's offense, but it wasn't everything. It is the spring, after all, and he's not going to show all his cards yet. But if you were paying attention, you did see some familiar looks and a few new wrinkles. The mesh route was a big piece of the day's proceedings, something very apparent if you were watching from above. Those short routes served as the bread-and-butter, and will be a big piece of the offense going forward.
- Yes, there was plenty of pistol, too. There was the standard pistol -- one back set at pistol depth behind the quarterback -- and a somewhat familiar look to those who paid attention to last year's offense -- one back at pistol depth, another off to the side of the quarterback. Carl Winston, Rickey Galvin, Leon Brooks and Marcus Mason all saw time with the first- and second-team offense.
- Dominique Williams broke out in a big way, catching five passes for 121 yards and a touchdown. He and Wilson showed well at the spring game, both displaying big play ability with limited catches. After the game, Wilson said the two play off each other and it becomes kind of a competition -- a game of "anything you can do...," in a way.
- Jeff Tuel also sent a message, completing 19-of-21 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns. At one point, he hit 15-straight, and looked to be in complete control throughout. This was the best Tuel has looked all spring, and his performance should be a positive sign going forward.
- However, Leach was still non-committal after the game, as expected. They'll go into fall camp without a starter and Connor Halliday will have about two weeks to compete for the job. But if the games were being played tomorrow, Tuel would start, Leach said -- for obvious reasons, of course.
- Don't worry about the sack total or the offense line. First, the line is still being shuffled up, and injuries are playing a big role in that shuffling. Second, it was a one-hand touch sack kind of day. Many were legitimate, sure, but if you were watching you should've been able to tell why the sack numbers aren't a huge deal during the spring.
- That said, Logan Mayes had himself a day from his buck end spot. Mayes recorded 4.5 sacks with his father looking on, and showed some serious speed coming off the edge. Frequently, he was beating the tackle to the edge and using that speed to "sack" the quarterback. He's proven to be a capable backup to Travis Long at the buck position.
- This tweet is relevant, but I don't want to overstep anything and explain why. Just keep it in mind.
- If you were able to see both sidelines, the differences should've been apparent. On the crimson side, there were a ton of bodies, many of which were rotated in and out. On the white side -- the defense -- the crew was skeleton. There just weren't that many players, and when the injuries were added in, the defense was working with an incredibly short rotation.
- Jordan Simone was not on the field. That was Mike McAdie wearing his jersey -- he had worn No. 17 throughout the spring.
- That concrete just behind the end zones at Joe Albi seems like a bad idea. Andrei Lintz laid out for a ball out of the back of the end zone and there was an audible gasp when he hit the pavement hard.
- Bobby Ratliff and Andrei Lintz also deserve mention -- the former caught four balls for 47 yards and the latter caught five for 88 yards. Lintz did fumble one sure touchdown out of the back of the end zone, though it looked to quite a few of us like he was in. Those fumbles have been a bit of a problem this spring and could be something to keep an eye on.
- Among the injured on the defensive side: Nolan Washington, Darryl Monroe, Tyree Toomer, Lenard Williams and Casey Locker. Kristoff Williams sat out on the offensive side and I didn't see Henry Eaddy -- along with a plethora of offensive linemen.
Flipped on West Virginia spring game. New "3-4" on D is as I suspected: Not really a true 3-4 but a 4-3 "Under" w/ weakside DE a standup LB— Smart Football (@smartfootball) April 21, 2012
From the looks of it, nobody got hurt in a serious way, which makes Saturday a success. The offensive firepower displayed by the first-team was an added bonus, and made for a nice momentum-builder heading into the summer.
Finally, the general disclaimer: Don't read a ton into any of this. It's the Cougars vs. the Cougars, and we won't have a real good idea of this team's ability until the fall. There just isn't a ton to get worked up about in the spring, and there never is -- barring serious injuries.
Stats from Bobby Alworth, who did one hell of a job keeping these by hand and putting up with all of us at the game.
Carl Winston 2-4, TD
Marquess Wilson 4-149, TD
Bobby Ratliff 4-47
Andrei Lintz 5-88
Leon Brooks 4-20
Bennett Bontemps 3-20
Dominique Williams 5-121, TD
Marcus Mason 1-2
Blair Bomber 3-13
Gino Simone 1-12
Rahmel Dockery 1-7
Rickey Galvin 1-13
Isiah Myers 1-15
Kyle Lappano 1-2
Brett McDonald 2-55
Max Hersey 1-1
Manuel Lamson 1-(-1)
Deone Bucannon (Gilbertson)
Mathew Simmons (Brown)
Andrew Furney - 39-good
Michael Bowlin - 52-WL
Wes Concepcion - 24-good
Wilson 80-yard touchdown catch from Tuel (Furney Kick)
Winston 1-yard touchdown catch from Tuel (Furney Kick) tuel 6-6, 72 yards
Furney 39-yard field goal
D. Williams 6-yard touchdown catch from Gilbertson (Bowlin kick)
Wes Concepcion 24-yard field goal