After penultimate spring practice, WSU players throw water balloons, reflect on development

Apr. 25—PULLMAN — The first interception came courtesy of Washington State edge Isaac Terrell, who returned it for a touchdown, prompting his defensive teammates to mob him in the end zone.

If only the Cougars dressed in white, wearing different numbers to celebrate the penultimate day of spring practice Thursday morning, knew what was to come.

In the moments that followed, three more Cougs nabbed interceptions: cornerback King Williams, edge Quinn Roff and safety Cole Norah, a flurry of picks that helped bring an end to WSU's 14th of 15 spring practices.

"Oh my goodness, it was incredible," WSU interior lineman Ansel Din-Mbuh said.

As the Cougs wrapped up their final regular practice of the spring, with only Saturday's spring game to go, they had a blast. They celebrated with a water balloon-throwing competition, whose winner remained unclear, mostly because it was so chaotic.

In the end, players doused head coach Jake Dickert with several rounds of water, ringing in the end of spring practice with smiles on their faces.

"Sometimes college football can feel like work with all the time you put in," WSU safeties and nickels coach Jordan Malone said. "Coach Dickert always talks about, we get to play football. He always tries to do things at the end of practices or just at random meetings to just bring back the fun of just doing things that you used to do when you were a kid."

The Cougars did that and then some to complete Thursday's practice. With spring ball coming to an end, though, it also gave them opportunities to reflect on the progress they made during four weeks of practice.

For offensive lineman Noah Dunham, a redshirt freshman from northern California, much of his development came in his head.

He's been getting first-team reps at right guard, filling in for the injured Brock Dieu, and he said at times he struggled with confidence. He felt doubt creep into his head.

"So just making sure that I'm just being confident in everything that I do," Dunham said.

Is that a thing he can convince himself to feel — or does he need to see himself perform in certain ways to build confidence back up?

"I know the work that I put in," Dunham said. "So when I come out on the field, and I do begin to doubt myself, I kind of just take a step back and just tell myself that there's gonna be struggles, but I know what I'm doing. So just kind of trust my fundamentals, trust my training."

On defense, Din-Mbuh said he felt similarly. A sophomore, he spent last spring as an early enrollee, which meant he used a lot of his time to acclimate himself to college football and find his place in the defense. He played 10 games last season, but for Din-Mbuh, it represented a decrease in playing time compared to his high school days.

"It definitely took a lot of humbling after the season," Din-Mbuh said. "I was pretty upset. I've never had that happen before. So it kind of opened my eyes to, 'OK, this is pretty serious.'

"Winning is really hard once you get to college. And so when I came back in January, it was just kind of like, reset. It's a new year, a new season. Let's go. Let's grind. Let's do it."

Then there's the development from Akron transfer safety Tyson Durant, perhaps the biggest surprise of the spring for WSU. He's learning a new position, moving from cornerback to safety to fill a need for the Cougars, and he's made it look easy.

At least that's the word from Malone, who might have the best seat for Durant's development.

"I think the biggest thing is the guys just accepted him like he was one of us right out the gate," Malone said.

"And he got comfortable, and he did a good job of playing, communicating, made a lot of plays. I think the guys really kind of went to him and attached to him real fast."