Thursday, April 02, 2009
Welcome to spring football in Pullman. Yikes. Not exactly what you order up for the idea of taking in a practice on April 1st?
That said, this post will be like my youngest son - short and sweet. Why? Because yesterday we ventured from the lovely Coeur D' Alene resort down hwy 95, to at least TRY to take in some spring ball. It sounded like a great idea. The result? Not quite an EPIC FAIL.....but not that far off either. :)
First, the drive. If you've driven 95 between Moscow and Coeur D' Alene, you know it can be a long one. But we thought hey, middle of the week, middle of the day even, and on a non-game day at that, it should be smooth sailing. WRONG. You had the snow, of course, snowing sideways and making visability a chore at that. But then you had the locals on the road, doing 35 - at best - in many instances. And good luck trying to pass on a day like this. So let's just say I started sweating it when we only went 30 miles in the first hour of our 84-mile trip.
And all the while, our own Longball had set up shop in Dupus Boomers, anxiously awaiting our arrival with a birds-eye view of the practice field. Alas, we never met up as Shane had to take off before we could get there. Sorry Shane. We'll try it again sometime. And hopefully Longball has some good insight to add in a future post, as he watched most of the first hour or more of practice himself.
However, we DID make it for the last 30 or so minutes of the practice. And we did see some things that were worth the trip....
First and foremost, and I'll get this out of the way. Due to our delayed drive, where we spent about three hours on the road, we only saw the end of practice, and really just the 7-on-7 skeleton drills. That's pretty much it. And we took in the action from the warm, comfortable setting of the bookie, with a "Madden" EA Sports type view of the field, elevated behind the QB (which was actually pretty cool). And to be kind? The end of practice we saw wasn't great. In fact, it was almost as sloppy as the conditions. It was tough on the QB's to make great throws, it was tough for the WR's to haul in cold, wet balls, etc. So the conditions were less than ideal to get a full read on what was happening.
But what did we see? Well, the biggest/best thing to me was #8, Marshall Lobbestael. And not just seeing him on the sidelines either. Yep, Ocho Rojo was in the QB rotation in said skelly drills, and he looked JUST FINE DOING IT. That's right, he LOOKED JUST FINE. I know you've read media reports that he's been in there with the yellow jersey and doing the things of a normal QB in spring drills. But I can assure any of you reading this, it will do your crimson heart well to know that he looked as good as can be expected, and then some. He took the snap, made his drops, scanned the field and delivered the ball with confidence. And without a hobble that you might expect from a kid not even six months from MAJOR knee surgery? In fact, other than a brace and a sleeve of some kind on his left lower leg, you wouldn't have been able to tell that he was coming off an injury like that. It is an absolute marvel that he is out there competing, let alone looking as fluid as he does right now. I was honestly blown away.
JT Levenseller and Kevin Lopina were the other QB's in the rotation I saw, with each QB alternating snaps in the drills. JT made a few good throws, but had a few sail on him as well. He seemed to be a litte more hesitant with his reads, and checked down to the backs more often than the others, but it was good to see him in there competing. He did make a pretty good throw on a deep fade to the tight end, who was in one-on-one coverage with a safety, but the tight end dropped the sure long gain, which might have even gone for a TD. Oh well, it's spring. Plenty of time to clean it up. And Lopina looked like, well, Lopina. He seemed more decisive on where to go with the ball, a little quicker on his delivery. But semi-accurate on some throws, while some more or less floated on him as well. It was really that kind of day (or at least that kind of practice at that stage of the day?).
The WR's were a mixed bag. Jared Karstetter made a couple of nice grabs in traffic, one in which he took a pretty good shot over the middle, but he hung on to the ball. I don't know exactly his weight difference from last year to this year, but he looked bigger, thicker to me. I wonder if he'll be a pseudo-tight-end this year in the offense where he'll venture more over the middle or run more underneath stuff, utilizing his size inside? But that said, there were your fair share of dropped balls as well by the other WR's. One thing that did stand out to my eyes anyway was that in the view we had, ala the "Madden" view, elevated and behind the QB, I didn't see a lot of seperation between the WR's and DB's covering them. I think that had a lot to do with the QB's not getting the ball off too quickly, or checking down to their outlet receivers underneath or coming out of the backfield. But it's not like guys were running down the middle of the field wide open, waving their arms, yelling for the ball. I don't know if that's bad for the offense, or good for the kids in the secondary?
I guess that's about all I can report on. I know Vince is reporting that Andy Mattingly suffered a pectoral injury and was out of pads by the end of practice, but I never saw #45 at all. He was already done for the day by the time we got there.
The reward for making the drive down and braving the snow? SELLA'S! Wow do I miss that place. It has that Sella's smell that you know, as soon as you walk in, just like coming home. And both boys worked hard on drawing on their placemats, hoping to get theirs up on the wall like so many before them. But while that didn't work out, they were thrilled with the whole experience, and ended up taking their placemats home with them.
Best of all? While my 5-year old was more interested in the train at the depot downtown, my 8-year old has now given a verbal commitment to become a WSU Cougar. He has been to Pullman before for football games, but it's funny how coming on a snowy day in April has closed the deal. He loved walking around campus, loved the Cub, loved the bookie, loved the whole thing. But he also declared that "I will eat at Sella's three times a day when I'm living here!" I told him if that's the case, he'll gain so much weight they will end up rolling him up and down the Hill for classes. Not going to happen.
That's it for today. ENJOY YOUR THURSDAY, and GO COUGS!