Sports

Washington State spring camp pocket book: ‘Large analysis’ days forward for a number of contested place teams


PULLMAN – Jake Dickert expects a number of place battles to final properly into fall camp, however the first-year Washington State soccer coach hopes to clear up a number of depth-chart questions earlier than spring ball ends.

Next weekend’s scrimmage and the spring recreation April 23 will present “huge evaluation” alternatives for tightly contested place teams.

Asked Saturday after observe concerning the Cougars’ intrasquad competitions for enjoying time, Dickert tabbed the free security position as “one of the biggest jobs on defense that we’re looking to find.”

Throughout camp, freshman Adrian Shepherd has been the shock front-runner. During his redshirt 12 months in 2021, the 5-foot-11 Texas native appeared solely as soon as, within the fourth quarter of WSU’s blowout win over Arizona.

Shepherd made main strides in his understanding of protection methods and offensive formations over the low season.

“I just put more effort and energy into the details, the small details and everything we do – everything matters,” Shepherd stated. “Hard work pays off in everything you do. Just keep working at it. It’s a process and eventually you’ll see the results.”

His energetic fashion of play and willingness to study caught Dickert’s consideration.

“We took him for a reason in 2020 … he just has that football mentality,” Dickert stated. “Every every now and then, you’ll see that aggressiveness get uncontrolled. I’d relatively pull him again than should say ‘giddy-up.’

“He wants to go take your soul when he tackles, and there’s times where he’s gotta be finesse in the middle of the field and get people down. He’s a football kid. He’s tough, he’s hard-nosed and it’s in his blood.”

Shouldering the second-team reps at camp not too long ago has been junior school switch Sam Lockett III, a prolonged junior who started his school profession at Utah State after graduating from Gonzaga Prep. The 6-1, 212-pounder performed two seasons for the Aggies, then spent a 12 months at City College of San Francisco.

Hunter Escorcia and Jaden Hicks, each deep reserves final season, are apparently additionally within the combine.

“(A priority) is finding that eraser at free safety,” Dickert stated. “That’s going to be a job that I think goes all the way into fall camp.”

WSU misplaced veteran George Hicks III to commencement. Hicks carried out constantly at free security final season after taking part in cornerback for the primary 4 years of his collegiate profession. He took over early in 2021 for injured sophomore Halid Djibril, who has since transferred to Tarleton State.

WSU additionally needed to rebuild at robust security. The Cougars seem to have discovered their starter in skilled Nevada switch Jordan Lee.

Lockdown cornerback Jaylen Watson is headed to the NFL, however WSU returns 4 key CBs in Derrick Langford Jr., Chau Smith-Wade – who participated Saturday after a few week sidelined as a result of harm – Kaleb Ford-Dement and Chris Jackson.

The personnel appears to be settled on the prime of the depth chart. The tasks nonetheless have to be labored out.

“Those four guys were rotational, did a lot of things, but who’s going to step up and really solidify themselves as a big-time playmaker?” Dickert stated of the cornerbacks.

On the defensive entrance, the primary unit is already in place. A handful of gamers are jockeying for reserve roles.

No one will supplant Daiyan Henley at exterior linebacker. The senior Nevada switch has been a star all through camp. His backup is to be decided.

Senior Ben Wilson and fourth-year sophomore Kyle Thornton are competing for minutes behind Henley. Wilson, a Lake Tapps, Washington, product, did most of his work on particular groups final 12 months after transferring in from TCU. Thornton noticed regular motion on protection behind five-year starter Jahad Woods.

“Both guys are vying for positions and we definitely want to rotate at linebacker,” Dickert stated. “Who can spell and be ready?”

The Cougars are well-stocked on their D-line and boast skilled returning starters on the edge speeding and D-tackle positions. A few youthful gamers and newcomers have an opportunity to crack the rotation.

Dickert singled out two D-tackles who’ll doubtless contribute in 2021: Virginia switch Nusi Malani and sophomore Ty Garay-Harris, who performed sparingly however alternated into the lineup in 10 video games final 12 months.

“(Malani) has added a pass-rush element that was desperately needed from the inside,” Dickert stated.

Dickert plans to contain as many as seven edge rushers this season. The only 4 from WSU’s 2021 depth chart are again. Underclassmen similar to Raam Stevenson Jr. and Lawrence Falatea are attempting to show themselves.

“Our edges position has really been our strength,” Dickert stated.

On offense, the Cougars are pointing to the receiving corps because the robust level of their offense. WSU has excessive expectations for a primary crew composed of slotbacks Renard Bell and Lincoln Victor, and outdoors receivers De’Zhaun Stribling and Donovan Ollie.

Otherwise, the Cougars are creating “competitive depth” this spring.

“Who’s going to separate at wide receiver? They know we’re going to play a lot of guys, but who can make the big, contested catches?” Dickert stated.

Rising slots embody Drake Owen, a journeyman collegian from Camas, Washington, and elusive redshirt freshman Orion Peters. With Victor sidelined due to a minor harm, Owen took first-string snaps Saturday. Outside receivers in competition for reps are sophomore Anderson Grover, junior CJ Moore and freshman Tsion Nunnally.

The operating again and offensive line positions are within the early levels of the preseason growth course of.

Junior Nakia Watson is the favourite to begin at operating again for WSU, which intends to set up a floor recreation this season. Spring practices have featured a wholesome dose of redshirt freshmen Dylan Paine and Kannon Katzer, and true freshman Djouvensky Schlenbaker. Sophomore Jouvensly Bazil is nearing full well being after lacking the primary two weeks of spring ball.

“That’ll be a position we’ll be sorting out all the way to game day,” Dickert stated.

The similar might be stated about WSU’s new-look O-line, which misplaced three mainstays after final season. The Cougars are shifting the items round up entrance.

“What five guys are gonna be able to take the reins?” Dickert stated. “Next Saturday (a scrimmage) will be huge for that. We talked about the physicality. Who can execute?”

Tight ends take form

Three gamers are rising in WSU’s new place group: a real freshman, a D-I switch and a transformed linebacker.

Oklahoman recruit Andre Dollar is making a easy transition from the prep ranks to the Power Five. The 6-4, 240-pounder strains up with WSU’s first-string offense in 7-on-7 drills.

“I like to be known for my receiving abilities,” he stated, “but I also like to put my hand in the dirt. I’ll go down-block a D-end. I’m all for it.”

Billy Riviere, a 245-pound sophomore switch, began for FCS North Dakota final season however didn’t register a reception. He’ll presumably be used most as a blocker.

Cooper Mathers, a third-year Cougar out of O’Dea High in Seattle, flipped to tight finish this offseason. The Cougars transformed a few different defenders in an effort to fill a place group that hasn’t existed at WSU in over a decade. First-year offensive coordinator Eric Morris’ new Air Raid offense reintroduced tight ends.

“All of us in the tight ends room, we have a chip on our shoulder,” Dollar stated. “We’re trying to prove something that hasn’t been done.”

Mathers earned a “Juice Player of the Day” award from Dickert on Saturday.

“This guy’s been showing up a lot,” Dickert stated. “He had a bunch of big plays the other day and was great in the red zone.”

Cougars conduct mild session, situational possessions

WSU break up up by place and labored by particular person drills for the primary half of Saturday’s half-padded observe earlier than a short 7-on-7 interval and a no-contact crew drill.

Quarterback Cameron Ward and WSU’s first-team offense got simply over a minute to march 60 yards and rating a landing. WSU’s DBs blanketed the Cougars’ receivers and induced one or two contact sacks. Ward moved the chains with checkdowns to his operating backs, and transformed a fourth-and-3 earlier than connecting with Ollie on the far sideline for a 25-yard move that obtained the Cougars contained in the 10-yard line.

With the clock hitting zeros, Ward’s move to the nook of the top zone was altered by robust winds and intercepted by Langford.

On his second collection, Ward had 40 seconds to march WSU into field-goal vary. He confirmed command of the hurry-up offense and took the Cougars 40 yards, clocking the ball with 2 seconds remaining. Dean Janikowski’s 38-yard discipline aim sailed vast proper.

True freshman Emmett Brown led essentially the most profitable drive, which he capped with a 35-yard landing toss to a wide-open Grover. Tight finish Moon Ashby, a former edge rusher, caught a deep move down the sideline from Xavier Ward to conclude observe.

The offensive and defensive strains walked by their progressions throughout the 11-on-11 interval.

“We kinda designed it like … we were just going to be in helmets, but we’ll use it as a mental day, as a preparation day, as a day where we’re going to get something done with intent and have a lot of great teaching moments,” Dickert stated.

Stribling, Watson and deal with Jarrett Kingston missed Thursday’s session however participated Saturday.



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