The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

WSU fall camp: prepping for week one

Looking at where the Cougs can improve before the season opener
WSU running back Djouvensky Schlenbaker breaks through the defense to score a touchdown during the WSU football spring game, Saturday, April 22, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

With less than three weeks until the 2023 football season kicks off, the WSU football team has improved significantly and things are coming together. However, just like any other program, there are a few key areas of the game to fine-tune.

 Redshirt freshman linebacker Taariq Al-Uqdah said one key for the Cougs to clean up is tackling.

 “Open field tackling is one thing where we can all grow, and just playing with no hesitation at all times, just flying around. We got guys that can fly, we all fly around and get to the ball with no hesitation,” Al-Uqdah said.

 One of the game’s most simple concepts, but a continuously more difficult task in today’s game. Every team in the country could afford to clean up the tackling, but Al-Uqdah and the Cougs are clearly focused on it.

 Another key in all phases of the game is communication; which is something the Cougs are committed to refining, said junior defensive back Kapena Gushiken.

 “Coach [Jordan] Malone stresses not giving up explosive plays, not having any MA’s, missed assignments, and really just communication, communicating with one another so that we’re all on the same page so that we can do that. We eliminate explosive plays and ball out,” Gushiken said.

 Another key is one all too familiar in every sport: health. While you can’t eliminate injuries entirely, when a team is healthy, things run smoother. So, the focus is getting right before game day, said Javan Robinson, redshirt freshman defensive back.

 “I’m a little banged up and nicked up, but just getting healthy. I feel like that’d be the only thing as a whole group we need to clean up for week one and we’ll be good,” Robinson said.

 There are a couple of key players out of practice right now including sophomore wide receiver Leyton Smithson, redshirt senior linebacker Ahmad McCullough and Fa’alili Fa’amoe, a redshirt sophomore offensive lineman.

 As that week one matchup nears, the looks in practice have begun to shift. The team is starting to look at and prepare for opposing team’s game plans, said Brock Dieu, redshirt sophomore offensive lineman.

 “From here to week one, all of a sudden we’re starting to get into scouts and really game planning and looking at our three-down looks and our four-down looks and just getting a whole plethora of what’s gonna come to us on game day,” Dieu said. “So, the biggest thing is to just come together, and work as one for different sorts of looks other than our defense.”

 Similarly, head coach Jake Dickert is looking to improve the focus in big moments by improving the team’s consistency when it comes to technique.

 “A lot of urgency, I think we’ve done a nice job not beating ourselves. There were some penalties today as we got late in drives that we just can’t have. Now it’s just situational. Tomorrow we’re going to spend the whole morning talking about every situation possible: offense, defense, special teams we’re going to walk through that,” Dickert said. “Just being consistent to the technique when we’re in the toughest moments. Can we rely on and trust in our technique, that’s huge for us and that’s what the coach’s job is to make sure they’re not hesitating in the toughest moments.”

 The next couple of weeks for the Cougs is all about consistency, ironing out the final kinks and trying to stay as healthy as possible along the way. Fall camp is still in session, but game day is on the horizon.

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About the Contributors
LUKE WESTFALL, Evergreen sports co-editor
Luke Westfall is a junior in Broadcast News from Custer, WA. He is an avid fanatic of the many sports at many levels who spends all his available time indulging in them. Luke began working at the Evergreen in Spring 2022.
HAILEE SPEIR, Evergreen photo editor
Hailee Speir is a photographer for the Daily Evergreen. Hailee is a junior English education major from Spokane, Washington. Hailee started working for the Evergreen in fall 2021 as a photographer.