WSU receivers show speed, plus other notes from Cougars' sixth practice of fall camp

PULLMAN – At some point after he arrived on campus this year, DT Sheffield lined up to race Chau Smith-Wade. That pitted two of Washington State’s fastest players against each other: Sheffield a speedy transfer wide receiver, Smith-Wade an athletic cornerback, bragging rights on the line.
Smith-Wade had never covered Sheffield, and as Tuesday’s fall camp practice came to an end, he still hasn’t. So he wanted to find out who was faster.
“He burnt me,” Smith-Wade said .
For the Cougars, there was no bad way for that race to unfold. Sheffield’s teammates gush about his speed. They rave about Smith-Wade’s coverage . Sheffield just showed he was faster.
He figures to do the same to WSU’s opponents this fall, Colorado State to Oregon State to Arizona State, but first, he did it to his teammates in Tuesday’s practice – the Cougars’ first of fall camp in full pads . Sheffield, a transfer from Northwest Mississippi College, caught a number of passes across the middle.
He’s one of four transfer receivers who will feature prominently in the Cougars’ offense this fall: Sheffield, Josh Kelly (Fresno State), Kyle Williams (UNLV) and Isaiah Hamilton (San Jose State). Add them to the mix with quarterback Cameron Ward and new offensive coordinator Ben Arbuckle, and you see WSU’s downfield play begin to come together.
Everyone involved seems to love one particular part of Arbuckle’s approach.
“We go deep,” freshman wideout Carlos Hernandez said. “We go deep every time.”
“They throw the ball deep,” Williams said. “I love that. I love taking shots.”
“Throw it deep,” Ward said. “Good things happen when you throw it deep.”
If nothing else, that has seemed to put a jolt in this WSU offense, which relied mostly on medium and short routes last fall. Now, with Ward and Arbuckle at the controls, the Cougars sound determined to test opposing secondaries all year.
Will it work? Through six days of fall camp, though, Washington State is sure making an effort to run long routes. Not every rep has been perfect, not this early in camp, but Ward has handed out what feels like a thousand deep balls to receivers.
That has included Hernandez, a true freshman who has run with the No. 1 and No. 2 groups in practice so far. On Monday, he hauled in a long pass from third-stringer Emmett Brown, and on Tuesday, he made another strong impression.
“I think I have pressure on myself to get better,” Hernandez said, saying he doesn’t feel any outside pressure. “All the coaches are very welcoming. So they let (me) ease up into the process.”
Two offensive linemen remain out
Returning starters Christian Hilborn and Fa’alili Fa’amoe missed their second straight practice. Hilborn hasn’t dressed for either of the last two practices, while Fa’amoe came out of Monday’s practice limping.
Washington State coach Jake Dickert said both injuries were “noncontact deals.”
“I gotta find a rabbit’s foot somewhere,” Dickert said. “Those guys will be back in due time, but both noncontact things that you just can’t even fathom sometimes.”
For the second straight day, redshirt sophomore Brock Dieu and redshirt senior Christy Nkanu took No. 1 reps at right guard and right tackle, respectively. It looks like they will be the backups if Hilborn or Fa’amoe miss any time this season.
Lockett out with broken hand
Sam Lockett, a returning starter at strong safety, is out with a broken hand.
Lockett practiced on Monday, so the injury took place sometime between then and Tuesday’s practice. Dickert said the injury was an “off-the-field deal.”
Dickert said he hopes Lockett can return “sooner than later,” but he offered no timetable.
For the Cougars, Lockett’s absence might be costly if he misses any time. Last fall, in his debut season at WSU, he ranked fifth on the team with 51 tackles. He also had three interceptions, tops on the team.
In Lockett’s place on Tuesday was redshirt senior Dominic Tatum, a 6-foot-3 transfer from Utah State, where he made four starts last fall.
“He’s used to that role, and we need to catch him up to speed,” Dickert said. “There’s a lot of catching up to do schematically.”

Latest Player Notes

How Wisconsin athletes are benefiting from a unique NIL deal with Madison's Exact Sciences

Feb 17, 2024MJ Hammill entered what can be a scary time of an athlete’s life in mid-December.She went into the volleyball ...

Mike Griffith: Texas is Georgia's primary focus this offseason

February 16, 2024The Georgia Bulldogs face three SEC contenders on the road next season in Alabama, Texas and Ole Miss. According ...

Navigating a season that could see Texas play Georgia more than once

February 17, 2024The Texas Longhorns and Georgia Bulldogs will play in Austin on Oct. 19. It may not be the only time they ...

After some key departures from the team, Dykes got busy in the portal this offseason.

5:11 PM on Feb 16, 2024Biggest unanswered question: Who will emerge as the clear WR1?Before last season, Williams was the ...

How Louisville football coach Jeff Brohm balances transfer portal, high school recruiting

Louisville Courier JournalCollege football used to buzz on the first Wednesday in February, but Louisville football's office ...

Bob Asmussen | Illinois defense counting on linebackers to plug the gaps

College Football Reporter/ColumnistCHAMPAIGN — A new linebacker coach is in place at Illinois, and Archie McDaniel said he ...

Where Alabama’s quarterback group stands before spring practice

Alabama football’s offense is going to look different this season. Kalen DeBoer has replaced the retired Nick Saban as head ...

Why did AJ McCarron return to the St. Louis Battlehawks?

When AJ McCarron joined the resurrected XFL last year, the former Alabama All-American hadn’t played since suffering a knee ...

Colorado football self-reported 11 minor NCAA violations from Deion Sanders’ first year with Buffs

1/26/2024The Colorado football program has self-reported 11 minor NCAA violations since the hiring of head coach Deion Sanders ...

What Steve Young said about today’s NFL quarterbacks

By Jackson Payne Steve Young may have enjoyed a Hall of Fame career in the NFL, but that doesn’t stop him from feeling just ...
See More Player Notes