The Cougars' offensive line had a rough practice Tuesday, but that's more exception than norm as coach Clay McGuire says the Cougars are well on their way to filling some holes on the line this spring.
PULLMAN — The Washington State offense won the team period at the end of practice on Tuesday, but afterward, as the rest of the team filed off the field, offensive line coach Clay McGuire held his guys back and had them get down and roll numerous laps up and down the width of the field.
“We did some decent stuff, technically we won the team period, but we didn’t play very hard, we didn’t play very physical. The biggest thing I was disappointed in was just our lack of leadership out there,” McGuire said. “The whole day, they come out and act like it’s a hot day, and I think it’s somewhere around 75 or 78 degrees out there, it’s not very hot out there but they want to act like its 115 degrees out there.
“I didn’t think they were very mentally tough. They had a lot of assignment busts out there that our quarterbacks and skill guys bailed us out on. I just thought it was a real sloppy day, I didn’t think we practiced very hard. I thought we lacked leadership and it’s not acceptable.”
So the big men rolled and rolled until McGuire was satisfied with their effort.
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What’s heartening for the Cougars is that Tuesday’s practice was more exception than norm for the offensive line, whom McGuire says, as a whole, have had a very good spring.
“I think we’ve had a better spring than we did last year even though (in spring 2015) we returned all five (starters),” McGuire said. “I feel like these guys came out and have done a better job, and overall, they’ve had a better spring.
“But as you build the program and put seasons together, and coming off the season we had, expectation of work ethic, work level and things like that change. … We’re not experienced or mature enough right now to let one day or two slip in and create bad habits.”
The Cougars return their starting center (Riley Sorenson), right guard (Eduardo Middleton) and right tackle (Cole Madison) but need to fill the left tackle and left guard sports vacated by Joe Dahl and Gunnar Eklund, respectively, and would also like to build depth behind the starting five.
Ideally, McGuire said they like to have a “top eight” – five starters, “a right guy, a left guy and a swinger.”
Here’s a look at how the Cougars’ offensive line depth chart is shaking out.
- LT: Andre Dillard (6-5, 290 pounds, Soph.); Cedric Bigge-Duren (6-6, 320 pounds, RS-FR)
- LG: Cody O’Connell (6-8, 351 pounds, RS-Jr); Mack Hopkins (6-5, 309 pounds, Soph.)
- C: Riley Sorenson (6-4, 327 pounds, Sr.); Noah Osur-Myers (6-4, 309 pounds, RS-FR)
- RG: Eduardo Middleton (6-5, 323 pounds, Sr); Drew Norvell (6-4, 293 pounds, RS-Fr)
- RT: Cole Madison (6-5, 305 pounds, Jr); B.J. Salmonson (6-4, 281 pounds, Jr)
Madison did not participate in Tuesday’s practice, but walked around with a yellow pinny. McGuire was a little vague when asked about Madison’s status, but said, “Cole’s good, he’s just taking care of some stuff off the field. Cole’s just fine, he’s had a really good spring and we’re expecting big things from him.”
Bigge-Duren seems to have worked his way into contention for those “top eight” spots McGuire referenced. He has proved his versatility this spring, taking reps at left tackle and left guard.
“He’s a kid who has tremendous upside talent,” McGuire said. “You forget he’s a freshman. He’s really young but you see flashes that he’s going to be a really good player.”
Salmonson has taken reps at both right tackle and right guard, while redshirt freshman Amosa Sakaria repped at right guard with the second team earlier this spring but also sat out practice Tuesday while wearing the yellow pinny that generally denotes some sort of injury.
The coaches are really high on Andre Dillard and they constantly sing his praises. It looks as if he will most definitely be the left tackle when the season begins in the fall. Check back here for a full story on Dillard in the near future.