It was an interesting day for the WSU defensive backs on Tuesday, mostly in a bad way, as the Cougar quarterbacks lit up the secondary for several scores on the day. Blown coverages were pretty common-place as receivers frittered free around the field, hauling in four 50+ yard catches on the day, with three of them going for touchdowns. It was nice to see a screen pass as one of those long scores, because the Cougars struggled mightily to get any screen game going in 2012.
While the offense is built to make that big play happen, it’s a bit concerning that the defensive backfield is struggling that much on a regular basis at this point in the Spring. Mike Leach felt the same way, I think, putting this comment on his teams’ performance for the day:
I thought the two sides took turns dominating periods. You’d like to see it contested at a little higher level in between and then you’d like to see one of them hang on to it (momentum). It went back and forth, which is fine, but I thought we worked good today.
Practices are a different animal in terms of momentum and all that, maybe we won’t be able to see till the Spring game, but spotty play and lulls were the biggest problems that the Cougs endured all last season. Especially in the D-backfield, it’s going to be imperative that those big plays be minimized as we head towards the Spring game and on into Fall camp.
With that said, in no small way, injuries are a big contributor at the moment. On the back end Deone Buccanon missed yet another practice and Nolan Washington and Demante Horton suffered an apparent leg injury early on in the session. At the linebacker level Sekope Kaufusi missed most of practice from a pre-existing injury of some sort (if you didn’t remember, Leach doesn’t release injury information). What it all means is the bodies weren’t available and the Coug defense was missing their point-man, which makes a pretty significant difference in coverage ability, especially down the field. So while it’s a concern, it’s not necessarily the story it looks like, but still the young bucks need to step up their game because injuries are a part of the season as well.
Other notes include Connor Halliday and Austin Apodaca each doing a stellar job in team drills, with Apodaca becoming increasingly confident in his role as the QB within the offense at this point. A 3 interception skelly drill gives a strong indication that he’s not even near taking Halliday’s incumbent starting spot at this point still, although he may be closing the gap a little bit.
Meanwhile the offensive and defensive fronts are really going at it, each improved greatly over last season in both size and skill level. Probably more than any other matchup on April 20th for the Spring game, I’m looking forward to the fronts warring it out and seeing just where the biggest improvements are. It’s kind of a toss up right now every play, which is great to see, especially if you remember the small and young line of WSU’s Gray team beating the Crimson O-line over the head with a whiffle bat again and again in last years’ Spring game.
Practice #10 is set for Thursday.