Newcomers debut as Cougs open spring practice


Washington State

Known as the ‘acclimation period,’ NCAA rules required Washington State to hold its first spring practice in shorts and shorts without pads on Thursday afternoon.

As a result, everything that happened came with an asterick.

For the first day, Mike Leach focused on the effort level of the Cougars. He was pleased.

“We had real good effort,” Leach said. “It’s a good starting point. But it’s merely a starting point.”

Thursday’s practice marked the debut of new defensive line coach Jeff Phelps, whom Leach has praised for his emphasis on fundamentals.

“Our guys moved around really well, but it’s kind of tough when you don’t have shoulder pads and you’re playing defensive line,” Phelps said. “They’re adapting to some of the changes we’ve made. They’re flying around.

“They’re an athletic group. They want to win. They want to do a great job. Coach Joe (Salave’a) did a great job here. We’ll continue that on and add my flavor to it. We like to have some fun. I want our guys to have some character out there and not be robots. We’ll just fine tune some things and add my mix into it.”

Phelps is a big believer that you must be a “great technician” in order to play defensive line. In other words, fundamentals are everything.

Rising senior running back Jamal Morrow began the final spring practice of his career.

“It feels like yesterday we came in here for our first fall camp and now it’s the first day of our last spring ball,” Morrow said. “It’s exciting, though.”

Thursday’s practice also marked the debuts of five early enrollees – DB Sean Harper, DB Isaiah Love, OL Robert Valencia, WR Anthony White and WR Easop Winston.

“I’ll have a better idea of how they did after watching film,” Leach said. “They’ve all had good off-seasons, better than new guys generally do.”

2017 Washington State Spring Practice Remaining Schedule:

Practice #2: Sat., March 25, TBA

Practice #3: Tue., March 28, 2:30 p.m.

Practice #4: Thu., March 30, 2:30 p.m.

Practice #5: Sat., April 1, TBA

Practice #6: Tue., April 4, 2:30 p.m.

Practice #7: Thu., April 6, 2:30 p.m.

Practice #8: Sat., April 8, TBA

Practice #9: Tue., April 11, 2:30 p.m.

Practice #10: Thu., April 13, 2:30 p.m.

Practice #11: Sat., April 15, TBA

Practice #12: Tue., April 18, 2:30 p.m.

Practice #13: Thu., April 20, 2:30 p.m.

Spring Game: Sat, April 22, 2 p.m. (Spokane)

Practice #15: Tue., April 25, 2:30 p.m.