Players look to shine in Crimson and Gray game


Redshirt senior Luke Falk throws a pass against the University of Oregon on Oct. 1. The Cougars won the game 51-33.

From staff reports

In hopes of moving up in the depth chart heading into fall, WSU football players will have a chance to showcase their talents during WSU’s annual Crimson and Gray spring game on Saturday in Spokane.

Saturday’s scrimmage will likely be a breeding ground for aggressive play. Between young players looking to make a name for themselves and veterans looking to plant their feet, the Crimson and Gray game will likely feature high intensity football.

In their penultimate practice, the Cougars will split up the roster and ramp up an already competitive environment.

The split squad aspect of the game will give some of the younger players a chance in the spotlight, including redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyler Hilinski, who has shown skill throughout the spring and is a player to watch come Saturday.

While redshirt senior quarterback Luke Falk will catch the eye of many fans no matter the score, those watching this weekend’s contest could find themselves looking at Hilinski, the potential future leader of the program.

On the defensive end, the Cougars lost last season’s starting nose tackle, Robert Barber, to graduation. Barber leaves a 6-foot-3-inch hole in the middle of the defensive line that someone will need to fill.

Between the departure of defensive line coach Joe Salave’a and the lack of depth at nose tackle, the interior defensive line is still a question mark heading into this weekend’s scrimmage.

Receiver roles have also opened up with the departure of the Pac-12’s all-time receptions leader Gabe Marks and River Cracraft, who was a consistent playmaker.

In a pass-heavy offense like the Air Raid, receivers play a vital role, and the Cougars have just lost two of the most prolific pass-catchers the program has ever seen.

After Cracraft’s season was cut short due to an ACL tear later in the 2016 season, then-sophomore wide receiver Tavares Martin Jr. stepped up in his absence and finished the season as WSU’s second leading receiver. Despite Martin Jr.’s performance last season, the starting receiver roles still seem wide open.

Redshirt senior Robert Lewis, sophomore Dezmon Patmon, junior Kyle Sweet and redshirt junior Kyrin Priester have all drawn eyes this spring, making the position battle at wide out heading into Saturday, an intriguing aspect of the annual scrimmage.

Saturday’s festivities will be fans’ last look at the team until the fall, as the Cougars wrap up 2017 spring practices on Tuesday. The Crimson and Gray game starts at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane. The game can be watched on the Pac-12 Network.

Reporting by Nick Thomas