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WSU Spring game: Crimson defeats Gray, 31-29

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The Cougars played their annual spring game Saturday, and Dom Williams stole the show.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 edition (minus the summer arrivals) of the Cougar football team made its first appearance Saturday in the biggest city between Colfax and Omak. As is the case with nearly every one of these games, not a lot of definite conclusions could be drawn. As is also usually the case with spring games, I got excited to watch the game, tuned in via iPad-into-TV contraption, and lost interest shortly after halftime. Still, there were some observations that could be telling, or maybe not.

One thing that seems pretty obvious is the quarterback hierarchy. Luke Falk was clearly better than Peyton Bender. Falk wasn't spectacular, but he seems much more adept at finding the open guy and knowing his limitations. Bender didn't look overwhelmed or anything, but he seemed to have a lot more trust in his arm than he should have. He stared down quite a few receivers, particularly Gabe Marks.

There were two plays that epitomized Bender's tendency to lock on to his primary guy. The first was a "go" route that was intercepted by Willie Roach. The second was near the endzone, and was broken up by Chandler Leniu. Bender has to clean that up if he wants to compete for the job. Still, there were moments where you could tell why Leach is pretty high on Bender. He threw a ball to Danial Lilienthal for a 38-yard touchdown up the left sideline, and it was a thing of beauty. Still, it will take nothing short of a spectacular fall camp on his part, along with some regression from Falk (unlikely) for Bender to get the job.

The star of the game was Dom Williams, who has been enticing us since 2012. It's clear that he is a dangerous receiver, especially after the catch. Saturday he took a quick slant and rocketed through the secondary for a touchdown. He piled up 164 receiving yards and looked like a man among boys for most of the day. If he can clean up the case of the drops that plagued him at times last year (the first quarter of the Apple Cup come to mind), he could have a huge year.

The other starting outside receiver, Gabe Marks, is another guy who could really shine in 2015. He was hindered a bit Saturday because he was on the Gray team, and seemed to be open on a good number of plays. However, he also needs to do a little better job of fighting for the ball. Bender underthrew him on a deep route, and Charleston White made a good play to intercept it. If Marks had made a play on the ball, he may have come down with it. A similar situation occurred on the Roach interception. Bender made a poor throw, but Marks needs to make the effort to at least break those plays up.

Other random observations/Fireball Hot Taeks:

  • Chandler Leniu looks like he's going to the Levon Kirkland school of linebacker size.
  • The offensive line, while admittedly not playing together, looked a bit leaky at times. Hopefully alot of that had to do with what will be an improved pass rush.
  • Robert Lewis got behind everybody on one deep pass, but Falk couldn't quite get it to him in stride, and Lewis dropped the ball. David Bucannon, who was beaten pretty badly on the play, channeled his inner Jason David after the ball hit the ground.
  • Deion Singleton did not have a good day at corner. Fortunately, he will likely be moved back to safety, and as Jacob Thorpe noted, was playing corner mostly because his squad only had two others at that position.
  • Quentin Breshears had a chance to, yet again, kick a very short field goal. The results were familiar.
  • Our man Jacob Thorpe weaved the word "pendulous" into his primary article. I had to look that one up.
  • Tyler Hilinski got some time late in the game, and didn't look too bad, throwing a lot of checkdowns while leading his team to a late score. LOOKS LIKE WE HAVE A BACKUP QB CONTROVERSY ON OUR HANDS.
  • After the game, Matt Leinart and Lincoln Kennedy provided some outstanding analysis.*

*Analysis was actually more like unintentional comedy, and far from good.

So that about sums up what I was able to glean before my boys badgered me in to playing tackle football in the living room during the second half. What did you all see?

Football

Cougs find some stars - Spokesman.com - April 25, 2015
While the official final score had Crimson winning, 31-29 in front of 6,217 fans, the score that matters was 31-17. That’s what the scoreboard showed when the quarterbacks of the two basically equal teams left the scrimmage.

Initial observations from WSU spring game | The Spokesman-Review
Gerard Wicks seems to be the guy at running back right now, with Keith Harrington and Jamal Morrow providing depth and different looks. While Morrow was the starter last season, he got just four carries and one reception to Wicks' 10 carries and three catches.

Blanchette: WSU scrimmage a bit inconclusive - Spokesman.com - April 25, 2015
I'm not really sure what Mr. Blanchette was hoping to find in terms of answers that come from a spring scrimmage. Very rare is the time that conclusions can be drawn when a team plays itself.

Crimson Edges Gray For 31-29 Spring Game Victory - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
The Cougars will wrap up spring drills Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

WSU Crimson and Gray spring game - A picture story at Spokesman.com
Washington State University plays their annual Crimson and Gray spring game at Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane, Wash., Saturday, April 25, 2015.

Coach Interviews

Mike Leach shares the most (and least) important traits he looks for in a quarterback
So Mike Leach apparently conducted an interview in that hurricane-simulating wind machine you always see at the science center.

The Furness Show | iHeartRadio
David Grinch went on with Ian Furness and Jason Puckett Friday. It's probably not a good sign when your new defensive coordinator says "that's just reality" more than once, when talking about the talent on hand.

NFL Draft

2015 NFL Draft Best Available Players - SI.com
You know it's a deep year for receivers when Vince Mayle is the 20th-rated guy. Also, have a look at the #7 and #9-rated quarterbacks. That made me think of a certain quote from 2013.

Baseball

Cougars Fall 4-1 in Saturday Matinee - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
Joe Pistorese worked seven innings and Washington State scattered seven hits but the effort was not enough as the Cougars were bested 4-1 by Utah at Smith’s Ballpark Saturday afternoon.

Golf

Cougars Set to Host Pac-12 Championships - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
For the first time in conference history, Washington State University will host the Pac-12 Men’s Golf Championships in Pullman, Wash, April 27-29.

Beer

Craft Beer Business Competition is Increasing - Bar Fight: Why craft brewing is about to go to war with itself
Call it "rotation culture." While it's great for craft drinkers like you and me, it's a problem for craft brewers. "The novelty aspect of new beers is a big part of the market," says Patrick Emerson, an associate economics professor at Oregon State University who writes a blog called Beeronomics. Companies "need customers to keep coming back to [their] brand, and that requires lots of new stuff all the time."

I am guilty of being part of the "rotation culture." Whenever I go into the beer store, I almost always pass beers that I know and love, in favor of new selections I haven't tried yet. I'm not sure why I do this nearly all the time.

Non-Sports

The Three Types Of Adam Sandler Movies | FiveThirtyEight
This may come as a shock to some of you, but Adam Sandler does not make very good movies.