The Cougars’ veterans decided to guide their freshmen through summer workouts instead of just throwing them into the fire. Will it pay off?
Once upon a time, incoming freshmen football players would report to Washington State in late June for the start of summer school and summer conditioning, then, while adapting to new surroundings, new coursework and new teammates, they were handed brand new playbooks and told to jump right into the veterans’ summer workouts.
“We came in, you were just thrown into the fire in 7-on-7 and expected to learn the signals. They just gave you a playbook,” said senior receiver Robert Lewis.
This year, however, the Cougars’ senior leadership decided to switch things up.
On a suggestion from strength coach Jason Loscalzo – who oversees summer workouts – the Cougars’ revamped the way they orientate their freshmen, and as fall camp revs up this week, it appears to be paying off.
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This offseason, “our guys got a lot of work in,” WSU coach Mike Leach told WSU IMG’s Matt Chazanow Wednesday after the Cougars’ first fall camp practice. “They look like they’re in good shape and appear to be today, there’s pretty good endurance out here. And I also think it seems like, with a little more experienced guys (there’s been) a little more skill development with the young guys maybe.”
Instead of lumping the freshmen into regular summer 7-on-7 drills with all the returners, the Cougars’ upperclassmen started a separate freshmen-only session designed to help ease the newcomers into things.
“Last year and the years before, everyone is out there together and we waited for the freshmen to get out of class,” senior quarterback Luke Falk said in an interview last month. “This year, we got our stuff done, then the freshmen come out and we take them through stuff, whether it be learning our offense, or 7-on-7 or a bunch of drills.
“We’re just doing things more personalized and not waiting around, disorganized, with 85 people out there.”
The bulk of the team would start their 7-on-7 workout in the early afternoon., and the freshmen were invited to join the upperclassmen whenever they got out of class.
“We’d tell them to come out when they’re done and see how it’ll be done in the fall, see the tempo and speed, the communication and competitiveness, so they can get a good look,” Falk said. “Sometimes…