The Friday night scrimmage was laced with excitement as fans wandered into Martin Stadium hoping to evaluate the quarterback puzzle for themselves; however, an overlooked aspect of the evening was Washington State’s defensive unit.
Tracy Claeys, first year defensive coordinator with Washington State, had much to be proud of by the conclusion of practice.
The first unit was highlighted by a variety of players making stops:
- Defensive end Will Rogers met Anthony Gordon in the backfield for a sack nearing the end of the his last drive.
- Freshman linebacker Willi Taylor swatted Gordon’s first downfield pass attempt just beyond the line of scrimmage.
- Defensive lineman Misiona Aiolupotea-Pei also batted down an attempted pass. This one, thrown by Trey Tinsley, almost resulted in a pick.
- George Hicks III and Myles Green-Richards each recorded impressive pass breakups. The latter of which kept points off the board.
- Veteran safety Jalen Thompson collided with freshman Max Borghi. This was the only time the freshman tailback did not fall forward to pick up the extra yard or two; he fell laterally toward the sideline.
- Dillon Sherman, Tristan Brock and Tyrese Ross teed off on Brandon Arconado to jar the ball loose for an incomplete pass attempted by Gordon.
- Deion Singleton wrapped up Jamire Calvin one-on-one in open space; the difficulty of that speaks for itself.
- Dominick Silvels intercepted Tinsley between the hashes for a would-be pick-six.
The defense gave up an occasional explosive play as acknowledged by Claeys after practice to the media, “We got athletic kids that can run, but it’s the experience part.” He went on to elaborate, “Every coverage has a weakness. They have got to learn what that is and play to protect that a little bit.”
The second group was no slouch. Though they saw limited time on the field playing just two series, a couple guys in particular made an impact.
- Hunter Mattox collected two sacks over two series; a team high for the day.
- Defensive backs held tight coverage as a unit. According to my unofficial record of practice, Cammon Cooper was unable to synch up with any target downfield not named Robert Lewis.
- Local freshman Armani Marsh (Gonzaga Prep) intercepted Cooper after a deflected pass entered his lane.
When asked of Marsh, Claeys responded with high regard, “He is a great competitor, that’s for sure.” The coordinator latter added, “He plays to his strengths.”
The Speed D mentality instilled in WSU football under former coordinator Alex Grinch is still very much alive. “I thought we competed hard,” coach Claeys evoked. “Our first group is looking pretty consistent. But tonight, the second group showed some improvement also.”