The Cougar football team continued spring practice Tuesday, and there appeared to be some experimentation with the depth chart. If there's any good time to move guys around the field and let them play with the first or second team, it's spring practice. There is no game for which to prepare, and players who have only played with the scout team get a chance at more quality reps.
WSU beat reporter Jacob Thorpe noted some of this depth chart movement in his review of Tuesday's practice.
- Nnamdi Oguayo ran with the ones at rush linebacker, while Dylan Hanser played with the backups.
- Nate DeRider backed up Frankie Luvu at weakside linebacker.
- Nick Begg, the tight end convert who had a pair of sacks in the scrimmage, ran with the twos at defensive end.
- Andre Dillard practiced with the starters at left tackle, and with the twos at right tackle. That second unit also featured Cedric Bigge-Duren sliding in to play left guard, with starting left guard Cody O'Connell playing left tackle.
You will remember that when Joe Dahl finally succumbed to a stress fracture in his foot last season, the coaches shuffled the line. Gunnar Eklund moved to left tackle (where he'd played much of 2013), Eduardo Middleton moved from right guard to left, and Jacob Seydel filled in at right guard. That lasted all of one game, as Dillard was inserted at left tackle against UCLA, while Eklund and Middleton moved back to their normal spots.
Whatever the reason for Dillard seeing some reps on the right side, hopefully somebody improves to the point that WSU has a solid two-deep at each position along the line. On the other hand, having such a thing is a luxury for just about any program, let alone WSU.
Among the other names mentioned in Thorpe's recap are two guys who I will be watching in the spring game. The first is Kaleb Fossum. Fossum only saw the field last regular season when he was holding kicks, up until the Apple Cup when he was installed as kick returner. This spring, he's gotten looks in the two-deep at both receiver and kick returner. He did appear as a punt returner in the Sun Bowl for the first time, so we can infer that he has good hands if the coaches trust him to catch both snaps and kicks.
On defense, Ngalu Tapa is someone who bears following. The sentiment last season was that Tapa was talented enough to get significant playing time, but wasn't in good enough shape. He appeared to be plenty disruptive on Tuesday, chalking up two "sacks." I think Tapa can be a force, so long as he doesn't need to take himself out of the game. With WSU losing both Destiny Vaeao and Darryl Paulo, Tapa's improvement is vital toward the defense's upward trajectory.
Practice continues Thursday, when the Cougars will hold their tenth of 15 spring workouts.