Just a day after telling the assembled media that his team looked “sluggish” — which usually is a function of a series of hard practices in stifling heat without a break — Washington State Cougars coach Mike Leach took his foot off the fall camp gas pedal on Thursday.
It was the Cougs’ final day in Lewiston, and it featured just a brief practice in helmets and shorts. And it looks like pretty much everyone else packed it in early, too: There were no post-practice interviews from Matt Chazanow or any of the beat writers (the Seattle Times’ Stefanie Loh had already head back over the mountains) and no significant video from practice — even WSU’s camp report (at the top of the page) featured mostly footage from earlier practices.
However, Chazanow did find a few minutes to sit down with Jason Gesser to discuss what he’s seen so far, and the WSU quarterback-turned-broadcaster was effusive in his praise.
“It’s a different make up of a team: the explosiveness, the athleticism, the speed, the size — and that’s just talking about the receivers on the outside,” Gesser said. “And then you could talk about our defensive linemen, our defensive backs our linebackers — across the board, it’s a very explosive team that has some pieces in place.
“(Some of them) we’re still going to find out. You still have some true freshman out there that are probably going to play, but at the same time, I like what I’m seeing from them because they’re guys that can catch a ball five yards and take it 60. We haven’t had a lot of those guys before. We had a lot of guys who could make plays, make some great catches, we haven’t had a lot of those ... game breakers.”
I’m sure Gesser was referring indirectly to Jamire Calvin, the four-star recruit who has been wowing people in camp so far. Theo Lawson wrote a nice feature on Calvin for The Spokesman-Review, who has even impressed Mike Leach. Which, let’s be honest — that’s not a real easy thing to do.
“I thought he’d be good but I thought it would take a little more time to evolve,” WSU coach Mike Leach said one week ago, after the team’s first practice at Lewiston’s Sacjawea Junior High. “Which, he’s got a lot of work to do, no question, but I think he’s ahead of schedule.” ...
“He’s real quick, real elusive, awfully tough to match up with,” Leach said. “A guy as fast as him, it’s tough for them to put a corner inside, and they’re not inclined to. And then, so he’s quicker than a safety or a nickel guy. And you like really good change of direction guys inside although I do think he could play outside.”
Gesser went on to discuss how that’s a reflection of their recruiting philosophy, and more. I know Gesser is an employee of the university so he has a bit of a vested interest in being positive, but there aren’t that many people around the program anymore with a microphone who have the kind of cache and historical context Gesser does. So I tend to put a bit of weight in what he says, and it’s getting me awfully excited for the prospect that the offense might actually end up better than last season.
WSU wraps up the open portion of camp with a scrimmage tonight at Martin Stadium, starting at 7:30 p.m. It’s free and open the public
which, barring the addition of an open scrimmage that’s not currently on the schedule, will be the last chance to get a close look at the team until the opener on Sept. 3 against Montana State just like every other practice through August 23. (Sorry for the error, everyone.)
Cougfan’s Dylan Haugh reports that Robert Lewis is back to full speed, and it sounds like Marcellus Pippins is the same. Nnamdi Oguayo and Dylan Hanser remain limited.