Practice report from Day 17 of Washington State preseason camp: Cougars continue to gear toward game week in final open practice

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oA daily fall practice update from The Spokesman-Review’s Washington State beat writer, Theo Lawson (@TheoLawson_SR). We set the scene, list the day’s important notes, highlight one big play, pick the standouts and slip-ups, track the quarterback race and dissect one talking point from post-practice interviews.

Setting the scene

Where: Rogers Field in Pullman

Start/finish: 3:30 p.m./6 p.m.

Temperature: 85 degrees, cloudy with steady wind gusts

Equipment: Full pads

Notable

We’ve enjoyed bringing you these practice reports and hopefully they gave you a better understanding of the depth chart, the personalitities and the tone of preseason camp. But, practices are no longer open to the media – or general public – from now on, so today’s report is the last. And Wednesday’s practice was scaled quite a bit, so this report won’t be as comprehensive as most of the ones you’ve been seeing. Mike Leach wasn’t particularly thrilled Tuesday with the effort of drills involving scout team players and made it clear he needed to see improvement overnight, both from the scout and varsity players. Both groups, the coach said, made improvements in that area Wednesdy: “I thought the scout work on all sides was quite impressive today. I thought they did a good job.”With the quarterback position settled – or so it seems – the most interesting battle on the field for the Cougars is the one at cornerback. Derrick Langford didn’t participate in Wednesday’s practice, so Armani Marsh continued to rep at that spot with the No. 1 defense.The list of non-participants grew on Wednesday and is slightly concerning as it relates to the team’s defensive backs. Nickel Skyler Thomas didn’t participate in practice Wednesday and he was joined Thursday by cornerback Derrick Langford. The other non-participants included linebackers Rocky Katoanga and David Aldapa, defensive end Nnamdi Oguayo, wide receivers Jamire Calvin and Billy Pospisil, along with quarterback John Bledsoe. Offensive linemen Fred Mauigoa and Jarrett Kingston participated but wore yellow non-contact bibs. Quarterback Gunner Cruz was not in attendance.The media spoke with coach Mike Leach, quarterback Anthony Gordon, running back Max Borghi and linebacker Jahad Woods after practice.

Keeping up with the QBs

No different than Tuesday, Anthony Gordon was given the large majority of quarterback reps, making it more difficult to envision a scenario where the redshirt senior isn’t starting for the Cougars next Saturday against New Mexico State.

Especially because the other signal-caller splitting reps with Gordon Wednesday was not Gage Gubrud, but rather Trey Tinsley, who dropped out of the QB race not long after the first fall scrimmage. Leach repped only Gordon and Gubrud last week, then acknowledged Gordon was the better quarterback in Saturday’s scrimmage and reafirrmed he was the front-runner, telling reporters, “If we played today, we’d play Gordon.”

So, now Gordon’s the only QB that’s taken reps in each of the last 13 practices and he looked sharp in a team period that was similiar to Tuesday’s. The No. 1 offense went up against the No. 1 defense for only a few reps before the scout team replaced them. Completion percentages don’t mean a thing at this point as the Cougars gear toward New Mexico State prep, but with this being the last open practice, we tracked those numbers anyway.

Gordon got 25 of the 36 snaps, completing 13-of-14 passes, while Tinsley was 6-of-7.

Leach said he decided to feature Tinsley rather than Gubrud because “I want them all sharp. I think all three can play in this conference, so I want them all sharp just so we have as much depth as we can have.”

Talking point

“I definitely have learned more about myself as a leader, just stepping out of my comfort zone, doing stuff I wasn’t necessarily doing my redshirt year. So, just kind of accepted the fact I’m a redshirt senior and I’m old now. The guys listen to me a little bit different I guess. So just really taking that into account and just relating to all the players on a certain level. Everybody relates a little bit differently, so finding out a way you could connect to all the guys is key.”

– Quarterback Anthony Gordon, on how he’s developed as a leader at WSU since his redshirt season.

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