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Alex Grinch preaches takeaways to Washington State defense

10h

To the surprise of very few, Washington State quarterbacks put up gaudy numbers in Saturday's spring game. Here are the yardage totals: Luke Falk, 323 yards (in only 2.5 quarters); Peyton Bender, 265 yards; Tyler Hilinski 133 yards.

Receiver Dom Williams was the main beneficiary, hauling in eight catches, 164 yards, two touchdowns and some glowing praise from The Spokesman Review's John Blanchette: "[He] was virtually radioactive."

But this is a Mike Leach-coached team, after all, so the offensive statistical bonanza is no shocker. The main issue challenging the Cougars remains on the defensive side of the ball, and that held Blanchette's focus at the spring game. In the linked article above, he noted that new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch is focusing on implementing a takeaway mentality in the unit. Washington State defensive backs intercepted only one pass during all of last season, but they picked off three balls during the spring game.

“Our mindset has to be that our whole purpose on the field is to get that ball back to the offense,” Grinch told Blanchette. “And every single down of football provides you with that opportunity.”

Pressuring the quarterback is vital in that effort, and this full statistical summary of Saturday's game suggests that the Cougars did their share of damage in the backfield, racking up 15 total tackles for loss -- including two sacks from defensive end Destiny Vaeao. Only time will tell if staff changes will deliver a more rigid defense in Pullman, but Saturday showed very early signs of an aggressive defense.

At the very least, that's a start.