The above photo serves as evidence that WSU did in fact take the field Thursday in its first of 15 spring practices. Mike Leach and the Air Raid are back for their second season and I was on hand to watch the teams first practice session. Below is my account of the days action.
So I’ll be honest. I really didnt want to be out in the elements today. While doing homework in the CUB I saw rain, sun, hail snow and gale force winds. So I posted up in the Library for a birds eye view of the action. It looked like a blizzard outside. Wind and snow swirling up and down, left and right. Elements that would make it really hard to see for those outside getting pelted in the face.
The snow continued as players began to show up around 2:30 to stretch. Coach Salave’a and his D-linemen were some of the first on site, they were obviously excited for the season to get underway and it showed later on in practice. The pads were off for today.
Sure enough as Coach Leach exited Bohler and sauntered to the practice field the last snowflakes fell and blue skies were revealed. 2:42 PM I can hear coach Salave’a yelling from my spot in the library as drills start. Let the festivities begin.
The first completed pass of spring practice was from Connor Halliday to Kristoff Williams. Obviously you cant derive too much from one practice, but from what I saw Connor Halliday has the starting reigns to begin spring, as most expected. He started drill off first for the offense and began throwing routes to WR’s. Joining him in the backfield were Teondray Caldwell and Theron West. West and Caldwell consistently ran with the first team. It seems the Running back by committee will be lead primarily by Caldwell, West and Mason.
Defense started off running gap and alignment drills. Linemen and the Buck crashed between 6 trashcans and DB’s assumed various coverages based on what coaches were dictating. The eleven players starting the drill were Gauta, Bock, Cooper on the D-line, Palacio at the buck, Sagote, Monroe and Coen at LB, Taliulu and Bucannon at Safety and Carpenter and Horton at CB. I’d like to note that Carpenter is listed at safety so I may have gotten him wrong. But this unit seemed to consistently play as your “Number 1 Defense” for day 1. Tracy Clark got work at CB in the number 1 Defense as well.
Jeremiah Allison is being groomed to come in and help Darryl Monroe when he is winded. For a good amount of time in opening drills Allison was placed directly behind Monroe as a 12th man on D and just mimicked Monroe’s exact moves. It should also be noted that Palacio was “starting” at Buck because Logan Mayes is on crutches and in street clothes. At least I assume it was Mayes, I’ve met him before and the man on crutches watching D bared a striking resemblance. That and Mayes Number was no where to be found on the field.
Austin Apodaca ran a segment of only running plays with the offesnsive line. He seemed to have some troubles, a theme for him Thursday, handing the ball off. Several times coaches came over to let him know his form was off. I noted that Apodaca ran a couple designed QB plays where the ball was hiked to him to the right and he ran with it right away. I hadnt seen that before.
Ricky Galvin is back and catching passes on the inside. It was good to see him back on the field in full form. I also want to note offense and defense were doing drills on the one available practice field and seemed pretty crowded. At 2:56 a horn sounds and the offense scurries off to martin stadium. Ahah, so that’s how they are going to divide practice…. Son of a… I decide to stay put for now and watch some of the defensive work, specifically the defensive line.
Coach Salave’a is intense man. He really demands the most from these guys, I can here him clearly three stories up behind a thick pane of glass. On one drill lineman held sandbags and got in ready position on the line. Coach Joe, its shorter so I’ll use that, has a ball on a stick which he places to the left or right of the linemen. They cant move until it moves. Once he “hikes” the ball the linemen must explode forward, superman style, throwing the sandbag as far as possible and then land on a jumping mat. He is also keeping them low. Very low. How low you ask? They did most of their drills under this things.
Ignore my creepy hand, but you get the picture. I decide to head over to Martin and brave the elements to see the offense. so over we go.
As I arrive so does the defense, and combined drills begin.
Halliday and Apodaca are running 7v7 against the second and third defense and Jesse brown is running second team against the first team D.
Halliday’s line from left to right is Middleton, Sale (I wrote 56 for left guard but that could be wrong as Sale is listed at DL), Brevick, Dahl and Seydel.
Halliday and Apodaca began throwing some 1v1 drills in the redzone and it was extremely competitive. Tracy Clark made a great play to breakup a pass to Gabe Marks but the Offense won the drill and the defense was rewarded with up-downs.
As the WR’s go over for a drill practicing WR screens, we have our first Yost sightings. I really like the dude already. His flowing blonde hair is amazing and he is very hands on and instructive with his wide receivers, it was fun to watch.
Quick note that Rahmel Dockery was spotted in a defensive jersey so he isnt in the fold right now at WR. The drill ended with Coach Leach a little ticked at the blocking efforts by WR so the offense did up-downs.
Its 3:52 and its starting to snow again. Damn it.
After up-downs, its time for special teams and Tyler Baker, Leon Brooks, Robert Lewis and Brett Bartolone were returning punts. Jeremiah Allison can be seen running up to players and screaming in their faces. Whether or not it was to pump up said players or annoy the hell out of them is yet to be determined.
Nothing big to report from punts and after that Skelly drills begin. Halliday is running first team skelly while Apodaca and Jesse Brown take turns on second team. On first team WR Adam West dropped two balls in a row and Kristoff Williams snagged a ball between two defenders in the middle. Leach is not happy with Isaiah Myers. “Myers find a way to the F***ing ball” could be heard from a ways away. He didnt necessarily drop balls, it was more an effort thing for him.
Maybe Leach just had to use the bathroom, because I then hear a guys radio go off and say “Hey Leach asked for us to get some portapotties down on the fields”… Guess some players were confused on where exactly they should relieve themselves.
Leon Brooks caught a ball over the middle from Halliday and was met immediately by Ivan McLennan with some hard contact. Once again no pads and it was a rough collision, but both walked away fine. McLennan could be heard all around the field, he is very mobile and his play today drew a lot of praise from his defensive coaches.
Mitchell Peterson almost picked off Halliday in the middle, drawing some hoots from the defense, and on the next play Eric Oertel made a great play stepping in front of Dominique Williams for a pick.
Connor then took his skelly unit to the redzone where he was 0-4.
Apodaca was then handed the keys to the first team. He and Kristoff Williams seemed to have a bit of a rhythm all day and Apodaca immediately hit Williams in the middle of the field for 10 yards. He then dropped a 15 yard pass on the outside that hit him right in the hands.
Gabe Marks made an incredible over the shoulder catch in the corner of the endzone but the coaches ruled him out of bounds. Marks wasnt too happy about the ruling and let the defensive staff know about it.
As Kristoff Williams made another catch, Mike Breske got pretty pissed at a unknown safety and yelled for him to get the hell off the field. He then lets the entire defense know the first defender wraps up and the second one strips the ball, something he drilled into the defense all day. He wants them constantly looking to strip.
Apodaca threw a nice TD pass over the middle to Bartolone of about 20 yards and then moved in for the close up redzone drill. Apodaca went 2-4. One catch came from Isaiah Myers and Leach made sure to let him know he liked the effort on the play. “Nice throw there Apodaca” was heard as Mike Breske walked to talk to his defense on the missed coverage.
More special teams time and while that happened Leach took the time to look over his QB’s a bit
He’s wearing black if you’re curious.
Now its time for full on 11v11′s to finish off practice. Its snowing pretty good the whole time, and both QB’s seemed to have a rough time.
Connor Halliday went 7-12 with 1 int and a fumble in 18 scripted plays. He hit Gabe Marks on a beautiful 50 yard pass but that was the best moment for Halliday who was harassed by the D-line all drill long. On several “sacks”, including one which caused a fumble, the D-line made contact with Halliday. Lets just say Leach wasn’t too happy about that. Leach walked into the middle of the defense and yelled “Defensive line if you f***ing touch the QB again I will run you until my eyes get tired. It was a nice play, but don’t f***ing touch him again.” That was the end of that.
The INT was made by Mitchell Peterson and Xavier Cooper came in with sack and strip. Halliday’s Offensive line from left to right in this drill was Gunnar Eckland, John Fullington, Elliot Bosch, Matt Goetz (which is surprising to me), and Rico Forbes.
Apodaca went 2-12 in his 18 scripted plays with an INT and fumble. He never really looked comfortable in the drill, it could have been the wind and snow, but whatever it was, it had him in a funk. He had one beautiful deep ball to Gabe Marks and a short toss to Bartolone but that was it.
One moment of glory belonged to the defense when D-lineman Mathew Bock intercepted Apodaca and sprinted to the endzone. “THE HUSKIES LOSE AGAIN” could be heard being yelled by the defense as the ran to join Bock in the endzone.
Leach had some more choice words with his QB’s an the practice ended
After practice Leach and Halliday talked with media, and that audio can be heard below.
Thats all I have from practice Thursday, I may be around Saturday depending on Fridays festivities. I will definitely be present on Tuesday and Thursday next week. You can see the full schedule of spring practice here and until my next post, Go Cougs.