Cats don the pads for the first time

The Cats went to full pads for the first time this spring and the coaches made sure that the team got the most out of it in the 2 ½ hour practice. Although the team did not tackle, there was a lot of popping going on.

Drills and fundamentals took precedence over scrimmages despite the players donning the pads for the first time. The early part of practice saw the players meet with their individual position coaches. After that they mixed offense and defense by units. Receivers and defensive backs, running backs and linebackers, and both lines. The lines spent the bulk of practicing battling, even when the other groups combined for 7-on-7 passing drills.

"This is the most important time of the year for lines," John Mackovic said. "Everyday will be a real heavy day."

Mackovic noted that at no other times of the year do the first team lines get to work so intensely together. During the regular season the lines go up against their scout team counterparts almost exclusively.

"Spring, it the only time the lines get to battle for a month," Mackovic noted. "They don't get to do that in fall camp."

Several players had good days. During 7-on-7 drill Nick Costa was on his game, completing the majority of his passes. Costa preferred to go underneath or to his safety valves on most of the passes, never really stretching the field.

Conversely, Ryan O'Hara chose to attack the defense with mixed results. For the most part his decision making was great, but his execution was not. O'Hara made several bad passes, missing a number or open receivers. He did rebound and made a terrific throw to Biren Ealy for a long bomb that would have gone for a touchdown. Ealy got a step behind Zeonte Sherman and O'Hara threaded a perfectly thrown pass that landed perfectly into the hands of the streaking sophomore.

Little used running back Chris Harris had a good day. The speedy Harris was impressive getting to the hole and around the end.

Several defensive players had big days as well. Andre Torrey, being tried at linebacker, got the best of several tight ends, standing them up and thwarting runs to the outside. Antoine Singfield, who's moving from fullback to linebacker had an interception and broke up another pass. Defensive tackle Carl Tuitavuki got great penetration on several plays, shooting the gap and disrupting plays in the backfield.

Like the previous two practices, an emphasis on fundamentals and small details was apparent. For the wide receivers blocking was stressed the most. The passers worked heavily on footwork and delivery, including drills to simulate passing over and around linemen.

Special teams was another emphasis. On Tuesday's practice the entire time devoted to special teams was concentrated on punt blocking. Players broke up into small groups, each working on different aspects of kick blocks.

*Fata Avegalio will not participate in spring ball. He is being evaluated for a neck injury. Last season he suffered several stingers and doctors are concerned with just how bad the damage to the area is.

*Long snapper Ben DalMolin left the team, apparently upset that he wasn't guaranteed a scholarship in the fall. Mackovic noted that a scholarship was an option, but that he could not earmark a scholarship for the junior. Joe Siofele and Steve Flemming will long snap in the spring, while incoming JC transfer Tom Robinson has been working on snapping while finishing up coursework at Cerritos CC.

*Javier Martinez has left school due to a family emergency and it is doubtful that he will return in the fall.

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