O-line help waiting in the wings for Cougs

O-line help waiting in the wings for Cougs

PULLMAN – Washington State's offensive line has been the culprit most identified this season when things have turned south. One hogmollie that Cougar fans have not yet seen on Saturday afternoons, however, continues to turns the heads of Mike Leach and o-line coach Clay McGuire.

Eduardo Middleton, a true freshman, has consistently impressed Leach and McGuire. And McGuire might have been tempted at times this season to burn his redshirt in an effort to shore up the Cougars' front line.

But he will not.

"He's doing some really good things out there," said McGuire in an interview earlier this week with CF.C. "It'll be nice when we can get him out of the scout team and really working out there."

"He's a kid that we're looking forward to," Leach told CF.C earlier. "He and (Alex) Jackson have been good."

McGuire has long said it would take a disaster to play some of the true freshman o-linemen this season – such as massive injuries and attrition. The goal is to boost the Cougs' long-term fortunes. McGuire also pointed out a full year in the weight room should greatly benefit the young group.

Middleton, 6-4, 294, is a player who many consider a future bookend offensive tackle. He has excellent footwork, and is nimble for his size.

BOTH MIDDLETON AND JACKSON looked good again during the weekly Thursday Night Football session before WSU headed to Utah.

It's somewhat tough to truly tell just how talented Jackson is, partly because none of the freshman or scout team quarterbacks will throw at him much. Sophomore Brandon Golden and junior Tracy Clark have received a boatload more attention because of it.

"(Jackson) is probably the fastest kid on our team," said Leach this week of his true freshman cornerback.

Similar praise by Leach has been given to first-year linebacker Feddie Davey. The Miami product has put together a plethora of exciting plays in practices. Davey has been a staple on WSU's special teams, appearing in seven games this season, and he seems destined to force his way onto the defensive side of the ball sometime in the not-so-distant future.

A second-year freshman, Tana Pritchard, has been becoming more and more of a fixture on the Thursday night stat sheets, handling the WILL linebacker position. Pritchard has also drawn praise on a regular basis for his performances, as well as acting as a vocal leader to the young squad. Elsewhere on the field Thursday, the starting offense looked significantly more in-sync than recent weeks. Indeed, the Cougs exhibited more polish on Thursday night, focusing on the fundamentals as they prepared for the Utes. Junior Marquess Wilson continued to fight his way back into the starting lineup, while some younger players came out and continued to impress the coaching staff.

Wilson, a guy fighting to prove his worth as of late, was competitive in capping off a strong week of practice. While receivers coach Dennis Simmons said he would not start against Saturday against Utah, it is encouraging that the loss of a starting job has seemed to inspire Wilson in a positive way.

And it bears repeating again that although he did not start last week, Wilson was still the leading receiver for the Cougs, with nine catches for 100 yards.

Senior quarterback Jeff Tuel continued to take first team snaps Thursday. Leach offered more praise this practice week for his offense, and seemed confident that a breakout performance is likely on the horizon.

Running with the 1's for the scrimmage:

OFFENSE
LT- Gunnar Eklund (Brevick got some time)
LG- John Fullington (Goetz got some time)
C- Elliott Bosch
RG- Jake Rodgers (Goetz got some time)
RT- Wade Jacobson (Brevick got some time)
QB – Jeff Tuel (Connor Halliday got quite a few snaps as well)
RB –Marcus Mason/Carl Winston/Leon Brooks
X-WR – Marquess Wilson and Dominique Williams split reps
Y-WR – Brett Bartolone (Gino Simone got some reps)
Z-WR – Gabe Marks (Kristoff Williams got some time)
H-WR – Gino Simone, Bobby Ratliff

DEFENSE
LT- Logan Mayes (Destiny Vaeao got some time)
NT- Ioane Gauta
RT- Xavier Cooper (Matt Bock got some snaps)
BUCK- Travis Long (Logan Mayes got some time)
SAM- Cyrus Coen
MIKE- Darryl Monroe
WILL- Justin Sagote
CB- Anthony Carpenter
CB –Daniel Simmons
FS- Casey Locker
SS- Deone Bucannon

SPECIAL TEAMS
LS - Alex Den Bleyker
P - Mike Bowlin
KO - Bowlin
FG - Andrew Furney
KR - Rahmel Dockery, Leon Brooks, Theron West, and Brett Bartolone
PR - Brett Bartolone, Leon Brooks, Theron West, Rahmel Dockery and Marcus Mason

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