WSU had its third day of Spring Practice Tuesday and I was on hand to witness the action. Below is the proof.
It was a beautiful day out on the Palouse and the team was wearing shoulder pads for the first time this spring. I got to the practice field around 2:45 and already things were well under way.
Halliday and Apodaca are doing the same drill that they started off with last Tuesday. They have a full O-line and two inside WR going up against third string defenders. The 2 WR are Rickey Galvin and Bennett Bontemps. Coach Yost is working the drill and switching between Apodaca and Halliday as he pleases. The O-line for this drill from left to right are Eklund, Dahl, Bosch, Goetz, and Forbes.
The rest of the WR’s come over after finishing some basic position drills and the Line switches out. Now Seydel, Dahl, Brevick,Sale* and Eklund. They are just running basic offensive drills and switching out Halliday and Apodaca every 4 snaps or so. Teondray Caldwell was the back for the majority of the day with the 1′s
* I could have mistaken 66 for 56 in this rotation because 56, Niu Sale, is listed as DL.
Robert Lewis got a lot of action today and showed some flashes. Outside WR coach Dennis Simmons made sure he got in on some early reps, and talked a lot with him and Gabe Marks.
I’d also note that the line consisting of Seydel, Dahl, Brevick,Sale* and Eklund ran the ball much more than Eklund, Dahl, Bosch, Goetz, and Forbes. It was at least noticeable for this drill.
A horn sounds and the team circles up. First padded practice of spring, so you know whats coming. Get fired up cause its time for Bull in the Ring. If you dont know what that is you can find out here.
First up? Gabe Marks. I cant see who he is against because of the mammoth like bodies in front of me but it didnt sound too bad. Next up is Justin Sagote and once again I cant see who he is confronting. Looks like Sagote won though. Eklund went to work against another D-lineman and there was a late hit and scuffle afterwards requiring teammates to separate the two. Coaches liked the intensity. Dominique and Kristoff Williams faced off next followed by Palacio and McLennan.
A horn sounds and the offense jogs off to Martin Stadium and I stay to watch the Defense a little bit and see who is running on first team. Here’s who I saw for the first team D.
CB: Horton and Carpenter* S: Bucannon and Locker D-line: Cooper, Gauta and Bock LB: Oertel, Monroe, Sagote, Palacio
*Carpenter is listed on the roster as a S but he looks to be playing CB to me
2nd string D: CB Washington and Clark S Taliulu and Peterson D-line: Pole, Paulo and Faoliu LB: McLennan, Pritchard Coen, and Byers.
The LB battle is going to be very open. I overheard new LB’s coach Ken Wilson talking about the position and he says with him its a clean slate and whoever can play is gonna play.
I walk over to Martin stadium to watch the offense and get a good peak at the construction of the football ops building. For those who havent seen updated photos of construction, here you go.
There is a giant jackhammer thing going off and it is loud as hell. I can hear it clear inside the library and it makes for some great “crowd noise” for the players to deal with. They wont be fazed by much thanks to that thing.
Apodaca and Halliday are throwing deep routes to recievers and three straight guys drop balls that hit them right in the hands. Simmons is not very happy with his guys.
Horn blows again and the 5 QB drill begins. But there is a problem. WSU only has 3 QB’s currently on the roster. So for the beginning of the drill they only use 4 QB’s and make an assistant throw. If you’ve never seen a Mike Leach Practice, he literally has 5 QB’s all line up, snap the ball at the same time and throw to one of the 5 running WRs. Furney is on the other side of the field practicing on-field kicks, and Lineman are doing one on one drills in the endzone.
Horn Blows and the QB’s continue the same drill except they add another assistant throwing the ball so we are back up to 5. Things run smooth and QB’s begin doing handoff drills with RBs.
The 2 lines being used are from left to right Eklund, Dahl*, Bosch, Goetz and Forbes; Seydel, Dahl, Bosch**, Sale and Middleton
*Fullington also subbed in at this spot for this group. **Brevick also subbed in at this spot
Caldwell, Brooks and Mason got the most reps at RB.
In 1v1 drills for WRs v CBs, Robert Lewis made some really nice grabs. Meanwhile Bobby Ratliff struggled eliciting a “Come on Bobby!” from Coach Yost. Marks and Galvin made some nice grabs from Halliday and Apodaca respectively.
Galvin has caught absolutely everything thrown his way. It was really impressive, he looks great.
After a rough patch in redzone 1v1 for the offense, there was a explosion as Myers, Tyler Baker, Robert Lewis, Dominique Williams, Gabe Marks and Bartolone all caught successive TD’s with Halliday and Apodaca switching off. Ratliff still hasnt caught anything and he is visibly frustrated with himself.
At the end of the drill the whole team does updowns with some extra for the Offense just cause Leach was in a good mood.
A drill practicing WR screens is being practiced by just Apodaca. In this drill 2 DB’s lineup against 3 WR’s. Apodaca would toss the ball to a WR and the other two would have to block and make sure their counterpart with the ball wasnt touched. On one play Michael Fields was left unblocked by Robert Lewis and he absolutely killed Brett Bartolone. Yost could be heard yelling at Lewis “Dont f***ing do that! You gotta block him!”
Leach announces this next play wins the game and both sides get real serious. Apodaca completes the pass and the WR goes by untouched. Up-down time for the defense.
Horn blows. Special teams begin and I hear a coach shout “We were third in the pac12 last year do you all know what that means?! It means we have 2 spots left to climb!” I love this mentality, and it was great to hear.
After special teams, skelly drills begin with Apodaca on one side of the field with the 2′s and Halliday on the other with the 1′s.
Kristoff Williams continues to impress with a great catch in the right corner of the endzone and Dominique Williams came up with a nice grab as well. Jared Byers picked off Halliday over the middle.
Coach Yost is over with Apodaca and Leach is watching Halliday. I noticed Apodaca get picked off by Joe Njoku on a pretty bad throw.
With the first team, Galvin is abusing Breske’s D over the middle and he isn’t happy about it, threatening to kick Cyrus Coen off the field if it happens again. On a deep fade to the corner of the endzone Galvin comes up with an amazing grab while his defender is draped all over him. Wow.
Mitchell Peterson breaks up a pass to Bartolone by stepping in front of the pass, should have been a pick. The next play Kristoff Williams comes up with a 20 yard catch in the middle which draws a “Nice catch!” from Coach Leach.
Apodaca has now moved over to the number 1 team and he absolutely pegged Anthony Carpenter in the chest, and is lucky it didn’t get picked off. Just like before, after a good defensive play Kristoff Williams comes up with a nice cutback route and gets into the endzone.
As I am sitting enjoying the sun I look to the right and notice Jeff Tuel is watching his former teammates practice. He shouts out hoots and hollers as certain guys make plays.
Now a really strange drill has begun. Players are running up, cutting past one potential blocker, running up and engaging another, and then scooping up a giant workout ball. I think this for kickoff/punt coverage. I’ll post a picture below.
After a few more drills the big moment of the day begins. Full on 11v11simuation.
Connor Halliday is up first and here is how his day went. 7-11 no INTs no TD’s. Halliday really looked good during this drive. Most of his passes were the shorter slot routes and checkdowns, he didnt go deep at all. He said in an interview after practice that he was working on those reads a lot in the offseason and its showed. His o-line from left to right was Eklund, Fullington, Bosch, Goetz and Forbes.
Here is the full breakdown of his 17 plays
Complete short over the middle to Bobby Ratliff
Complete short over the middle to Bontemps
Hand off middle to Caldwell for around 6 yards
Incomplete short right intended for ?
Complete screen left for Caldwell
Handoff middle Caldwell
Incomplete short middle for Myers and it was overthrown
Complete quick throw left to Caldwell for 15 yards
Complete short on an inside slant to Robert Lewis
Handoff middle for Leon Brooks
Complete short right to Myers
Incomplete and almost picked by Locker
Incomplete as Halliday is forced to roll right and throw it out of bounds
Handoff right for Theron West stopped short
Complete right for Marcus Mason
Handoff middle for Mason stopped at the line
Austin Apodaca came up to bat and his O-line from left to right looked like Seydel, Dahl, Brevick, Sale and Middleton. 10-13 with a TD and no INTs. He looked like a completely different guy from last Tuesday. Much more comfortable in the pocket and his throws and reads were crisp. Here is the full breakdown of his 18 plays.
Complete short left to Galvin between two defenders
Incomplete right for Ratliff but it hit him in the hands
Complete short left to Galvin
Complete to Gabe Marks who made an amazing diving catch on the sideline
Complete short right to Ratliff
Complete left to Bartolone
Handoff right to Marcus Mason
Complete? Looked like Galvin caught it but he was absolutely crunched over the middle.
Complete right to Theron West, and would like to note that Bontemps owned whoever he was blocking, throwing him to the ground and then hitting him back down again.
QB run, Apodaca tripped and fell trying to dive.
Incomplete to Bartolone, Casey Locker made a great play
Complete over the middle to Bartolone
Complete right to Gabe Marks
Handoff middle for Teondray Caldwell
Complete right to Bobby Ratliff for a TD
Handoff right for Caldwell
Incomplete right intended for Dominique Williams who was knocked down by a defender.
Horn blows and the team rounds up. Breakdown and some players leave while others continue drills. DB’s practicing scoop and score. I would like to note that Joe Dahl and Robert Lewis have some great hair and make fine additions to the hair raid.
As the Lineman head up the stairs start hearing commotion. Look over and see Logan Mayes slowly climbing with crutches while his teammates are yelling “Damn logan! Come on Logan!” Coach Joe is right behind and he assures Logan to take his sweet time.
I stayed and recorded the post practice interviews with Leach, Halliday and Apodaca so you can find those below. Thanks for reading and I will be back on Thursday. Go Cougs!