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Cougars hold first spring scrimmage

WSU went over the half-way point of its spring practices Saturday.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Cougar fans. The Cougar football team continued its spring session Saturday, holding its first scrimmage. As is the case nearly every time a team plays against itself, both the offense and defense had their moments. While the passing game performed rather well, completing 48 passes for 441 yards and three touchdowns (against zero interceptions), the defense stiffened against the rushing attack, allowing less than four yards per carry.

Kyle Sweet probably had the best day among the receivers, catching four passes for 89 yards. He also scored the longest touchdown of the day on a 45-yard explosive play from Luke Falk. In his scrimmage preview, Jacob Thorpe singled out Sweet as one of five players to watch:

The inside receiver has built on that early experience and become one of the team’s most prolific receivers this spring. Both of WSU’s presumptive starting inside receivers will be seniors this season, so Sweet should figure prominently in the offense this year, and be one of the team’s primary playmakers as an upperclassman.

That turned out to be quite prescient. Of the other players identified, I am most interested in Jalen Thompson's development. For a guy who was in high school a few months ago, it seems pretty clear that his talent is undeniable. If he is able to grasp the nuances of a college defense, he will make a big impact early on.

Thorpe was pretty busy this week, and among his articles was an in-depth profile of Alex Grinch. The article includes qoutes from both his former boss, Gary Pinkel, and his current boss. Most telling was a quote from one of Grinch's current players:

“I don’t want to bad-talk our old defensive coordinator, but we knew right away it was an upgrade,” WSU linebacker Peyton Pelluer said. “He’s so hands-on and a lot more personable, in his own way. It makes it easier for us to trust him and understand where he’s coming from. It’s night and day from what we were used to freshman and sophomore year. He’s definitely a sight for sore eyes.”

Well, Peyton, you may not want to "bad-talk" your old defensive coordinator, but I sure as hell will. Mike Breske was really, really bad at his job. Many people (including myself) feared that the defensive coordinator position under Mike Leach was a job that most people preferred to avoid, and that WSU would be forced to take someone who was less than qualified.

Well, despite the fact that Grinch was somewhat unproven, having never run his own defense, he more than proved his mettle during his first year in charge. It's clear that Grinch has taken to Leach's philosophy of giving the defensive coaches total autonomy, and that Grinch's message is reaching the players.

While I don't expect the defense to ever resemble the 2013 Seahawks, the obvious upgrades in both coaching acumen and player talent have made the Cougar defense far more than a group of guys just killing time until the offense comes back on the field. That alone gives the Cougs a chance to win every time they play.


WSU holds its first spring scrimmage | The Spokesman-Review
Around 100 or so people stopped by Martin Stadium this morning to check out the Cougars, who held a scrimmage that lasted roughly 100 plays.

WSU scrimmage stats | The Spokesman-Review
Statistics from WSU's first spring scrimmage.

Cougars see tremendous upside with wide receiver Tavares Martin | The Spokesman-Review
The enormous potential that lies in sophomore wide receiver Tavares Martin, and how untapped it remains, was on full display during a recent Washington State football practice.


Cougars Even Series With 6-2 Victory at Arizona - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
The Cougar baseball team bounced back Saturday and won at Arizona. Hopefully they can scratch out a win Sunday and take their first series in conference play.


Pac-12 basketball: Projections for the 2016-17 league race - College Hotline
Er-nie! Er-nie! Er-nie!


Best Beer I had this week: My week in beer was somewhat truncated, due to a 96-hour trip to Qatar and back. (Aside: If you've ever yearned to spend a 14-hour nonstop flight with screaming kids, while sitting next to a guy who has his shoes and socks off before the plane takes the runway, Qatar Airways Flight 727 is for you!)

While in Qatar, I tried a British beer called Spitfire. Most of you are probably aware that the Spitfire was a British fighter plane during World War II. Not only was the beer quite good (much better than Newcastle), the label and slogan are even better.

Upstart Brewers Rise Against Craft-Beer Founding Father Samuel Adams - WSJ
After years of thriving as the main craft-beer alternative to Budweiser and Miller Lite, Sam Adams-maker Boston Beer Co. faces a raft of small competitors which are taking tap handles, shelf space and sales, making it harder for Sam Adams to stand out from the crowd.


The Reckoning: The Story of Claire Wilson Texas Monthly – Featured
Fifty years ago, when Claire Wilson was eighteen, she was critically wounded during the 1966 UT Tower shooting—the first massacre of its kind. How does the path of a bullet change a life?