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Young Cougars featured in first spring scrimmage

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Lots of new faces in important places were the story on Saturday.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Cool temperatures, wind and rain (and presumably a paucity of moms due to those conditions) greeted the WSU football players Saturday, as they conducted their first full-contact scrimmage. Seeing as how there won't be any games that count for another /looks at calendar, frowns...four-and-a-half months, the coaches are throwing in the young guys to see who can grasp the scheme and who needs more work.

That seems to be Alex Grinch's spring philosophy, as he told both the Seattle Times and Spokesman Review on Saturday:

Grinch, whose best safeties are all fairly new to the program, overloads his youngsters to see who swims and who sinks during the soggy Saturday scrimmage..."Their heads are spinning. They’re making a million mistakes. Hopefully, the mistakes they make Tuesday are better than the ones they make today."

There are certainly merits to that method of instruction, but the risk is that throwing too much at players too soon can lead to discouragement and diminishing confidence. That's a delicate balance the coaches must maintain with these young players. Luckily, most young guys are able to put the bad stuff aside and bounce back quickly.

As for the scrimmage itself, there were obviously good moments on both sides of the ball, unless you count the kicking. Justus Rogers, Nick Begg and Isaac Dotson stood out on defense. Along with Sean Harper, Rogers led the team in tackles with five, while Dotson and Begg each collected two sacks. Robert Taylor provided the biggest hit of the afternoon, leveling Renard Bell with a hit that almost certainly would have resulted in an ejection.

Offensively, Luke Falk and Tyler Hilinski both lent credence to the "OR" on the depth chart, as Falk completed fewer than half of his passes, while Hilinski threw for over 200 yards and four touchdowns. QUARTERBACK CONTROVERSY. But seriously I believe you can draw a straight line from Falk's lack of scrimmage production to his current hair style.

C.J. Dimry appears to be coming into his own, as he led the receivers in catches, yards and touchdowns on Saturday. As you'll see in the highlights below, he made a beautiful catch in the back of the endzone. On the inside, Robert Lewis and Kyle Sweet also performed pretty well which, as we've said many times over Leach's tenure, will be essential if WSU's offense is going to click. Jamal Morrow and James Williams provided the most production at running back, though Williams did put the ball on the ground. There was even a Keith Harrington sighting!

While Leach noted ups and downs with the offense and defense, he saved most of his venom for the kickers, telling Stefanie Loh:

"If Powell thinks he’s a Pac-12 kicker, he’s gotta hit every one of them," Leach said. "I don’t know exactly why he missed, but he’s gotta start hitting every one. And I don’t mean just some of them."

It's definitely not good when the two guys competing for the kicking job miss multiple kicks inside 32 yards. With the Saturday scrimmage behind them, the Cougars are over the halfway point of spring practices. They'll take a couple days off before practicing again on Tuesday.

Football

Cougars at full-speed for first full-pads spring scrimmage | The Spokesman-Review
The Washington State Cougars held their first full-pads scrimmage of spring on Saturday morning. The hour-long scrimmage was a proving ground for young players who have been asked to absorb a lot of information in a short time.

LB Justus Rogers, WR C.J. Dimry, QB Tyler Hilinski stand out in WSU’s first live scrimmage | The Seattle Times
The Cougars scrimmage on Saturday for the first time this spring and got a chance to evaluate some of their younger players and early enrollees.

Both Sides Show Flashes in Cougars’ First Spring Scrimmage - WSUCougars.com | Washington State University Athletics
The Cougar defense tallied nine sacks on the day, two from redshirt-junior defensive lineman Nick Begg to join Dotson, while junior defensive back Sean Harper and Rogers led the way with five tackles each.

WSU hosts four-star QB prospect | The Spokesman-Review
WSU hosted Cammon Cooper, a four-star quarterback recruit, during Thursday’s spring football practice.

Basketball

Washington is losing everybody but the equipment guy, and Jon Wilner still thinks they'll be better than WSU in 2018. Can't wait for next season!

Pac-12 basketball projections for 2017-18
The order-of-finish projections below 1) are based on the Hotline’s draft assumptions and 2) will assuredly be adjusted in late May/June to reflect NBA departures, spring recruiting and the transfer market.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: I often see Orange Blossom Pilsner when I'm walking around the beer store, but I've never taken the plunge. I decided to try it on draft Saturday night, and it was quite good. I rarely drink pilsners, but I will definitely have this one again.

Is It Last Call for Craft Beer? - The New York Times
In 1981, there were only 82 breweries in the United States, and our beer, fizzy and flavorless, was the laughingstock of the beer world.

Non-Sports

I can't remember the last time I ordered a Domino's pizza. I tend to believe Domino's consumers are the same people I see leaving the beer store with a 12-pack of Bud Lite. Maybe I should give them another try. Ok, probably not, but you never know.

Domino’s Atoned for Its Crimes Against Pizza and Built a $9 Billion Empire
The chain is thriving after investing millions in tricked-out delivery vehicles and GPS pie tracking.