WSU is off the field early today, having practice at 9:15 this morning. The idea, I believe, was to simulate a travel day in the run-up to BYU. So there was a morning practice and the team may be going through its prep to "travel" during the day.
Practice was ... well, the same as always. As I've said before, we're in the grind part of fall camp, where everything kind of runs together. Practices are run the same every day, and players have kind of hit their stride at this point. There's still teaching going on -- lots of it -- but it's more refinement and polish instead of getting everyone up to speed with the system.
Just another day in paradise. For more on the Cougars' practice, read on.
- Ioane Gauta looked like he killed a guy. Seriously. At some point, his nose started bleed. Couple that with the white practice jersey and you have a scene from a horror movie. This fits in with what Joe Salave'a talked about after practice (more on that later). He wants some nasty, because football is all about the one-on-one battles and getting tough.
- The obligatory Gabe Marks note: He's still consistent as always. It's pretty impressive how he turns in solid performance after solid performance. It's at the point now where his friendly rivalry with Ray Ford -- the two end up one-on-one during drills quite a bit -- has been interesting to watch. Ford, right now, is pretty visibly frustrated by Marks catching everything. He really just doesn't miss, and it's not very fair. Kid looks like he's just running routes against nobody most of the time -- in a summer seven-man skeleton.
- It was funny to see how practice started. As the team did Bull in the Ring, I was talking to Bobby (one of the SIDs) about how Ohio State had a camera in its ring for the spring game. Bobby had mentioned the quarterbacks doing it at Ohio State, but we were both sure that WSU wouldn't do it -- Connor Halliday and Jeff Tuel are too precious to risk injury in the drill, of course. Seconds later, Connor Johnson and Austin Apodaca were in the ring, battling it out. Johnson, who is 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, won, and the quarterbacks were all fired up, leading to the team jumping around and hollering.
- During one-on-one WR vs. CB battles, there were two nifty catches back-to-back. First, on the left side, Bobby Ratliff made a nice one-handed catch in the back of the end zone with David Bucannon on the coverage. On the next play, on the right side, Gabe Marks snared a ball with one hand on a slant, which elicited hoots and hollers from everyone.
- Deone Bucannon had another nice day, hauling in a tipped ball for an interception. Someone ran the wrong route and Bucannon was there to snag the ball in the end zone for a touchback.
- Cyrus Coen picked a tipped pass off, as well. Coen was running with the ones in place of Eric Oertel, who was there at the start of the practice but disappeared.
- Finally, Anthony Carpenter pick-sixed Connor Halliday during team drills, jumping a short route to take it to the house.
- In a tip-drill going the other way, Gino Simone hauled in a touchdown that went off Drew Loftus, I believe, and landed in his arms between two defensive backs. Tipped footballs everywhere!
- At the end of the team session, the offense was working on its goalline sets. The defense was in the end zone screaming and chanting, but the offense scored relatively easy three times in a row. Carl Winston found a hole and scored for the first, Teondray Caldwell dove into the end zone for the second, and Jeff Tuel ran a naked boot in for the third. On the last one, Gabe Marks sealed the corner off nicely and Andrei Lintz set the edge by clearing out the backers. Marquess Wilson was pumped, running over to Tuel and screaming "There you go Tuel!" before giving him a flying chest bump. Darryl Monroe and Andrei Lintz got into it after the play, and Bobby Ratliff and Tracy Clark were jawing a bit. The intensity was definitely high.
- Practice ended with field goal drills. The whole team formed a tight circle around Andrew Furney, screaming, yelling and throwing this as he kicked to distract him. Furney, however, was nails. It's kind of expected at this point.
- For the third-straight day, they were testing the fire alarms in Martin Stadium. About every 10 minutes, the sirens and alarms would go off, and I don't think the strobe lights every really stopped flashing. Good news! The fire alarms still work! Getting closer...
That's it for today. We'll be back at some point in the future with a wide-ranging interview with Joe Salave'a. He spent quite a bit of time talking to a small group of us and had some great things to say about his coaching philosophy, being a mentor, getting to know kids on a personal level to get the best out of them, and how some of the new guys are getting acclimated to college. He really is a great guy to have around and the perspective he brings as a recent player adds quite a bit.