In the third day of practice on Tuesday, the Cougars finally gave the pads a try for the first time this Spring. In a good day for football, with the sun glaring and a pretty minimal amount of wind flittering around on the Palouse, Washington State put in its’ best day of practice thus far.
The coaches decided to mix it up a little bit on the day in the fight for playing time, changing some depth charts. Among the most noteworthy moves to first team were Kache Palacio at BUCK (hybrid linebacker) and Jeremiah Allison at SAM (strong side backer). New linebackers coach Ken Wilson has mentioned a couple of times that everybody will be earning their spots this Spring and I’m sure he’ll take a look at all of the kids he feels could be in the mix during the next few practices with first team reps. With Logan Mayes injured for the Spring, I still expect JC transfer (junior) Ivan McLennan and junior Cyrus Coen to claim those respective spots indefinitely in the next five or six sessions.
Another note that I find interesting is that Connor Halliday has increased his rep amount to about 2/3 of the total first team reps for the whole practice. The suggestion here is that Halliday finds himself in a “yours to lose” situation now, which has to give the young leader relief. Don’t discount Austin Apodaca just yet, as Leach will still give him every opportunity to win the job, but I expect Connor to really settle in now and just start to make the turn we expect him to make heading into the Spring game and on into Fall. On the day he played ok, but look for massive improvement over the next two to three practices from him.
Receivers seemed to get a lot of different looks again and will probably continue as coaches Simmons and Yost try to weed out the pretenders, but don’t count on that being easy. It might actually be a case of the contenders simply outshining the others with focus and effort, because honestly there aren’t many (if any) super weak links in the Spring lineup. Unfortunately the incident between redshirt sophomore Mansel Simmons and an Idaho player put him in the hospital for a couple of days with a skull fracture. He’s on bed rest for a few days but should ultimately be ok, probably returning in the Fall.
For the defensive backs, Damante Horton, Nolan Washington and Tracy Clark all caught a huge break with redshirt freshman Alex Jackson missing the entire Spring due to an injury. Any of them could step up and claim themselves at least a shot for Fall, so it would be in their best interest to show the best that they have moving down the line. Sitting on the bench as an upperclassman can be dismal but all of those kids are staring that likelihood right in the face if they don’t make a move now.
The team takes today off again and then gets back at it Thursday.