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WSU Spring Practice: Connor Halliday Returns And Other Notes

We're at the point in the spring where everything begins to blend together. Practices are, largely, the same, roles have basically been defined and the newness of it all has worn up. A big hit here or a skirmish there will break up the monotony a bit, but by and large practice is practice, and will always be practice.

There was a special guest on Tuesday, milling about in his trademark hat as he once did on a regular basis. Vince Grippi was down in Pullman for an unrelated appointment and came to visit the small folks, gracing us all with his presence. It was, as always, a pleasure to visit with him, and he even stayed for about half of practice before realizing he'd seen this show many times before and didn't have to sit through the whole thing.

In football-related news, Connor Halliday was back on the field and in full pads, splitting time with Jeff Tuel and the first unit. He went through the whole practice before shuttling off during team drills -- a wise decision considering how and when he was hit in the liver during the first practice of the spring. Darryl Monroe was also back, participating in everything. The rest of the injured players were largely the same -- Wade Jacobson resting his back, Adam Coerper riding a bike, Spencer Waseem rehabbing his knee and Nolan Washington going through most of practice before watching the rest. Rickey Galvin also sat out for the second straight practice with an unknown injury.

More bullet points after the jump.

  • Leach said he wanted his receivers to be tougher and more physical, and Chester Su'a and Deone Bucannon did their part on Tuesday. On one play, Marquess Wilson snagged an inside screen and was immediately flattened by Su'a, the sound of the hit echoing for a moment before being replaced by the yells and cheers of the defense. A couple plays later, Bucannon got his licks in on Wilson, hitting him hard just after a catch. Wilson was fine, if you were worried.
  • I've enjoyed watching David Gilbertson during the spring, and his emergence has been a pleasant surprise. He won't be challenging Jeff Tuel or Connor Halliday, of course, but he's able to hold his own. Right now, he's the clear number three, and has been getting plenty of time in the quarterback rotation.
  • Oh, and Gilbertson was one half of what may have been the best play of the day. Gilbertson hit Rahmel Dockery deep down the left sideline, with the freshman receiver making a nice adjustment. Dockery was blanketed by Damante Horton, but went up and brought the ball in for a touchdown. It was a nice play all around.
  • Su'a had a strong day overall, in addition to just that big hit on Wilson. He broke through the line a couple times to "sack" the quarterback or drop a running back for a loss, almost taking off Carl Winston's head on one play. It seemed like he was everywhere, and he's clearly separated himself from the pack at one of the inside linebacker spots.
  • Toni Pole also had a nice day in the trenches, making at least one sack and muddying things up in the middle. Against the first-team offense during team drills, Tuel led the unit down the field, all the way down to the two. A couple busted plays later -- the second of which was a run that went nowhere, followed by a false start -- Pole burst through the line to "sack" Tuel, ending the drive.
  • Leon Brooks broke off a nice run, finding a hole around the left end and splitting a couple defensive backs for a long touchdown.
  • Andrei Lintz continued his solid spring, at one point leaping up to haul in a perfectly-placed pass from Jeff Tuel between three defenders.
  • On the defensive side of the ball, Daniel Simmons made a couple nice plays, the best of which was a tip-drill interception of Connor Halliday that he deflected from Dominique Williams before hauling in the catch. He also knocked down a slant a few plays later.
  • The first-team defense was largely unchanged, though Monroe was in the middle with Su'a. Eric Oertel was on one side and Travis Long was in his usual spot on the other. Tracy Clark also saw plenty of time in the cornerback rotation, along with Horton and Simmons.
  • The specialists were trying out a new drill, and it was hilarious to watch them learn it. The punt returners, coached by Eric Morris, were attempting to throw a ball up, catch a "punt" from the Jugs machine, then grab the ball they threw. Nobody could do it right away, with Morris even struggling and failing during the demonstrations. Finally, a light switch went on, and Dockery pulled it off. Leon Brooks and Marcus Mason were also successful, and Blair Bomber got close a few times. Bomber also managed to throw his ball up and accidentally hit the "punt," causing both balls to fly off in different directions.
  • On the other side of the field, the wide receivers and defensive backs were running around a giant hula hoop, perhaps simulating coming off the edge. Along the way, they'd pick up a small jersey or catch a soccer ball in an interesting looking drill.
That's it for Tuesday -- a largely uneventful practice. We'll be back with more on the spring workouts later.