As Washington State is halfway through their schedule of football practices this spring, the defensive depth chart is starting to shake out. After graduating players from the defensive line and secondary, there are significant holes to fill.
A main concern going into 2017 is depth along the defensive line, and Mike Leach had some bad news on that topic Thursday. He spoke with reporters after practice and said that nose tackle Ngalu Tapa isn't practicing right now, and is focusing on his academics. You can watch the full interview below, courtesy of Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times.
According to Loh, Daniel Ekuale will start at nose tackle with Kingston Fernandez backing him up. Fernandez is relatively inexperienced and undersized for the position, weighing only 262 lbs. Tapa wasn't a gamechanger last year in limited action, but having him as a backup is preferred over Fernandez. Let's hope he can get his grades in order.
In the interview Leach was also asked about the secondary depth. He refrained from singling out any one player for having an impressive spring, but did note that D'jimon Jones and Hunter Dale had been playing well. Both Jones and Dale are competing for reps at nickel according to Loh.
Sophomore Marcus Strong is challenging to overtake senior Marcellus Pippins at the starting cornerback spot across from Darrien Molton. After starting as a sophomore, Pippins was demoted to the second string last fall before the Eastern Washington game. Treshon Broughton, who started in his place, struggled in the opener and Pippins reclaimed his starting spot for the rest of the season. Strong may look good now, but Pippins has been a solid player in the secondary for the last two seasons.
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