From Lewiston -- The WSU football team put on full pads for the first time Thursday in Lewiston. Temperatures were in the mid-90s which is a slight cool down from the triple digit heat earlier in the week. A lot of the adrenaline and excitement that was there for the first few days of camp seems to have worn off a bit as football is now the new norm for players and practice falls back into a routine. Still, Leach seems to be pretty pleased with the overall effort.
"I thought we had pretty good snappy work. I thought we dragged a little bit in the middle of periods. We weren't as consistent as we were yesterday. I thought we played hard," said Leach.
Leach doesn't see practicing in full pads as a high priority.
"We get better work than most people do with helmets and shoulder pads so we're more inclined to do it that way and we will most of the season," said Leach adding that the team would only likely be in full pads for five practices throughout the entire camp.
In particular, Leach doesn't seem to enthused about seeing players go to the ground.
"I want them to stay up like they do with shoulder pads really," remarked Leach when asked whether or not full pads had any impact on the way practice was conducted.
Here are a few notes from Thursday:
Kicking game - The kicking game got put on display a little more Thursday. Last year Austin Apodaca was the holder on field goal attempts for the Cougs, but with his transfer River Cracraft has taken on holding duties. Alex den Bleyker will be the long snapper this year which isn't really a surprise since he has held that spot since late in the 2011 season.
The competition for field goal kicker is between Erik Powell and Quentin Breshears right now. Erik Powell, a left-footed kicker, seems to be well ahead of Breshears based on what has been observed over the last few days. Breshears had difficulty on several attempts between 30-40 yards hooking several kicks to the left and coming up way short on another. Powell got into a little bit of a rhythm and put several kicks in a row through the uprights from about 40 yards out. It's safe to say that the Cougs will be playing with a longer field this season to get into scoring position. Exactly how long that field will be or how consistent the kickers can be from anything beyond 30 yards is yet to be seen.
There is also a three-way competition for placekicking duties on kickoffs between Powell, Breshears, and Jordan Descalo. Breshears struggled in that aspect too coming up well short of the end zone on a few attempts. Descalo clearly had the stronger leg Thursday getting the ball in the end zone on several kicks.
Towards the end of camp I plan on getting with Eric Russell to have him assess the state of special teams. For now, I'd say Descalo will handle punts and kickoffs with Powell kicking field goals.
ZZZ - It's no secret that the wide receiver position is the position with the most depth across the board. The Z receiver by far has the most competition at this point with Isiah Myers, Kristoff Williams, and Gabe Marks all looking incredibly sharp. Leach was asked about the rotation for the Z.
"Whoever we think competes the hardest will get the most reps and then we'll rotate and see. Marks has been really hot lately," said Leach.
When asked whether or not he might move one of the Z receivers to another slot, Leach replied, "Probably not. They'll probably fight it out and one of them won't play as much."
Defensive personnel - Chester Su'a saw considerable action at linebacker as did Darius Lemora at the strong safety with the ones. The emergence of these players at these positions goes to show that the more you think you know at this point in camp, the less you really do. A lot of players are getting looks and some are staying hot more than others.
Sorensen at center - Riley Sorensen ran with the first team today at center. Up to this point Sam Flor has held that position for most of the camp. I wouldn't interpret this as a change. Clay McGuire said a few days ago that the battle at center was close to even between the two centers. I'd expect to see both Sorensen and Flor at different points running the center for the rest of the camp.
Team session - The 11-on-11 team session ended with the defense holding a 26-23 advantage. It was somewhat of deja vu as Wednesday ended in a similar score. Robert Lewis caught a touchdown pass from Halliday and Xavier Cooper had a sack for the defense.