FOR 13 WASHINGTON State seniors, today's Apple Cup is more than a rivalry game. It's their final…
PRACTICE: Coaches get into rivalry spirit
"We know that our kids will be amped up," said inside receivers coach Eric Morris. "We showed some of the good memories of the past Apple Cups to build it up a bit."
Morris is now stranger to rivalry games. As a standout receiver at Texas Tech from 2005-08, Morris and the Red Raiders were 4-0 against rival Texas A&M. Morris said most coaches on staff are familiar with rivalry games, but some are still becoming acquainted with the magnitude that comes with facing an in-state foe.
"I think the older guys did a good job of stressing this week what it all means to everybody," Morris said. "They've grown up around this university so obviously it means a little something extra to them."
Offense line coach Clay McGuire echoed Morris' sentiment, but added the players still have to focus.
"It's a routine week for us," McGuire said. "We do what we do and we just need to go out there and execute."
McGuire was quick to mention that, aside from the rivalry, fans and alumni should realize this will be the last game for several seniors on the team. He said senior Wade Jacobson worked especially hard for him this year.
"I wish we could have him back and develop him in our system for another year," McGuire said. "We hope to send him out with a victory. He's been a heck of a player for us this year."
McGuire confirmed senior Taylor Meighen had gone home for Thanksgiving and isn't sure whether he'd be in attendance for the Apple Cup.
Meighen's presence on the team has been a mystery in recent weeks. The senior hasn't been at practice in about a month, raising questions as to whether he remains on the team at this time.
With such a young team, the coaching staff as a whole agrees the future is rather appealing for WSU. Morris said having three freshman receivers in the starting four will allow the passing game to take flight next season as the unit develops and blossoms into what many are accustom to seeing in the Air Raid scheme.
"I've never dealt with anything like this in my career," Morris said. "They'll continue to grow and this offseason is huge for us and for the team."
Morris said one player in particular has grown the most and made quite the impression on the coaching staff.
"Brett (Bartolone) … you can't consider him a freshman anymore," Morris said. "He's got his feet wet now and he's going to be a key toward building a program around here."
Morris said Bartolone's hard work has got him where he is now, adding that if the flashy slot receiver doesn't become complacent he can become a force in this offense, even more than he already is.
"He works his butt off," Morris said. "He needs to realize what's got him here and hopefully his work ethic rubs off on our entire squad. He has to make that contagious."
Speaking even further on Bartolone's effort, Morris said he hopes to get more grinders, such as Bartolone, in future recruiting classes.
"When you get kids that are fighting to win every play, you get winners," Morris said. "You've got to find kids that are tough. Not just 40 times and a measurable here and there, not just how big and tall a kid is or how strong he is, but if he wants to come in and battle on a play in and play out basis. If it really means something to a kid to lose, that's our kind of kid."
The Cougars didn't hold a Thursday Night Football session tonight, instead finishing early to allow the students to enjoy their evening.
Running with the 1s for the scrimmage:
QB–Jeff Tuel (David Gilbertson got 2nd team reps)
RB–Carl Winston/Leon Brooks/Teondray Caldwell
Y-WR–Brett Bartolone (Andrei Lintz got some snaps)
Z-WR–Gabe Marks (Kristoff Williams got some time)
H-WR–Bobby Ratliff (Gino Simone got some reps)
BUCK–Logan Mayes (Kache Palacio got a few snaps)
CB–Anthony Carpenter and Nolan Washington
LS–Alex Den Bleyker
KR–Rahmel Dockery, Leon Brooks, Theron West, and Brett Bartolone
PR–Brett Bartolone, Leon Brooks, Theron West, Rahmel Dockery and Marcus Mason
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