FROM PULLMAN — Washington State practiced under an occasional drizzle on Tuesday afternoon. It was a typical workout, though we do have a few notes and a conversation wtih defensive coordinator Mike Breske to pass along.
– Destiny Vaeao appeared to be a little more involved in today's practice, as I saw him in at buck linebacker against the scout team. He would be an important piece to have back against Stanford, considering the size and strength of the Cardinal's offensive line.
– Brett Bartolone again didn't wear pads and was a limited participant. He was limited last week and didn't suit up for Saturday's game against Idaho. Leon Brooks continues to take reps at the H inside receiver position, and could be the backup at that spot again if Bartolone can't go against Stanford.
– Not a big fan of reading a whole lot into the performance of either unit against the scout team — success isn't just expected, it's planned for and almost forced — but Connor Halliday connected on a pair of deep balls to outside receivers that were pretty well-thrown. This isn't a surprise or an uncommon occurrence during practice, but I figure it's worth noting today if only for the throw Halliday wishes he could have back over the head of Isiah Myers on the first play of the Idaho game.
– I asked Breske after practice about why he put a few starters back in the game against Idaho on the final drive. He said he made the move after Chad Chalich completed a 41-yard pass to Jacob Sannon, a gain that resulted from blown coverage.
“They totally blew a coverage, three guys, and again, we want to play right,” Breske said. “We want to play fast. We want to play smart. That’s your opportunity, and that’s a sense of pride for our defense.
“It was before the goal line. I’m guessing around the 20 or the 15 in the red zone they were back in there. It wasn’t specifically down on the goal line in the red zone.”
– As for maintaining the shutout: “I just think they care. Every play means something to these guys, and it’s just like a lady told me out at Banyan’s: 'that was the best part of the game.'
(Did Stanford show anything new against ASU?) “I think they showed just basically what they did against San Jose and Army. They’ve got basic packagaes, their heavy formations, 11 personnel, 21 personnel. They showed them in all the games. Even going back to last year, to our game. They’re diverse, they’ve got specific packages and things they want to do out of those packages. Obviously when they get big, big, big, they run. They’re not so much about trying to trick you. Just this is what we do, they do very, very well, and we’ve got to fit well and be physical.”
(Do you add anything to combat those bigger packages?) “We’re our base defense and we’ve been solid in that. W e’vejust got to work it and make sure our fits are exact and we’ve got to tackle very, very well. We’ve got to gang tackle this week. They’re not so much about spreading you out. It’s about gang tackling. They’ve got big bodies and they get in your way.”
(Do you think you matched them physically last year?) “I thought so. Other than a botched coverage on a fire zone that was a touchdown for them, but other than that, in the run game I thought we matched up real well.”
(On Stanford) “They’re a tremendous football team, but it’s about us getting better, another opportunity and it’s just a different philosophy. That’s the great thing about defense, from week to week you see a different philosophy. You’ve got to adjust as a defense. They focus on some things this week vs. Stanford that we won’t next week against Cal. But that’s what makes defense fun.”