PULLMAN, Wash - Washington State University held its first spring practice under new head coach Mike Leach at Rogers Field Thursday afternoon.
The Cougars worked out in helmets and shorts on a warm sunny afternoon as Leach and his new coaching staff had the team go through a number of drills throughout the day.
Quarterbacks Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday split a majority of the reps on offense with both players completing a number of passes including a couple long throws to Marquess Wilson, Kristoff Williams and Brett McDonald. The Cougar offense worked through a couple different passing drills that matched the receivers against the defensive backs while the defense worked against the offense on the opposite field. Players from both sides rotated between both fields so there wasn't a true "scout team" on either field.
The final 30 minutes pitted the offense, led by Tuel and Halliday, against the defense that continued to shuffle players in and out throughout the day's final segment. Wilson, Bobby Ratliff, Kristoff Williams and Dominique Williams each caught long touchdowns while McDonald, who walked on last season and earned WSU Scout Team Offensive Player of the Year honors, made a couple tough catches in traffic to bring some cheers from the coaching staff and offensive players.
The defense saw Tyree Toomer and Deone Bucannon each intercept passes but the play of the day came at the end of the team session in the endzone as Eric Oertel, playing as an outside linebacker, leaped high in the air to pick off a Halliday pass. The highlight brought some loud yells from the defensive coaches and players and even saw outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons come over to high five Oertel after the play.
Leach spoke with the team for a few minutes after practice before selecting Oertel as the player to break the team down after the first spring's first practice.
The Cougars will practice in helmets and shorts 10:10 a.m. Saturday at Rogers Field.