Competitive practice showcases intensity

The jawing started early and by the end of practice there were personal fouls, a thrown punch and a severe tongue lashing by the coaches. The offense and defense went at it hard at Sunday's practice both verbally and physically. The end result was a motivated team but a less than thrilled coach.

"I don't like the bantering," John Mackovic said. "If you open your mouth you'd better be in the right place."

The players began "talking" during one-on-one drills. At first it was some friendly banter between the wide receivers and the defensive backs. During seven-on-seven drills the offense had some early success and started to let the defense know about it. The always vocal defensive unit responded in kind and the friendly war of words had a slightly competitive tone to it.

By the time the entire team came together both units were fired up. Coaches, who were not privy to the earlier jawing, kept encouraging the enthusiasm. Things came to a head when Clay Hardt nailed Bobby Wade after a whistle. Mackovic and the other coaches took several minutes to calm the defense down, but moments later Joe Siofele crushed Chris Harris over the middle. When a player came off the bench to celebrate a big play (a ball that came lose after the whistle), Mackovic had enough and made the defense do 25 push-ups for the personal foul.

"It means nothing," Mackovic said of the spirited play. "The only thing that counts is the games. You can't talk your way into being a better player."

Things settled down, but it was obvious that the defense played better after they began to get more intense. The offense was hot early, completing their first 12 passes in the 7-on-7 drills. For the drill they were 17-of-21.

Individually, Jason Johnson was 9-of-11 for 66 yards. Nic Costa completed all six of his attempts for 49 yards. Freshman Ryan O'Hara was 2-4, for 23 yards. The defense was utilizing a variety of defenses, including some zone, dime and blitz packages.

As the linemen got involved, the defense improved. With a pass rush coming, the Wildcat quarterbacks didn't have quite as much time to pick apart the defensive coverage. The team started out slow, opening with two incomplete passes and a rush that went for negative yards. With enthusiastic pass rushers in his face, Johnson was 4-of-8 for just 28 yards. Johnson appeared to end practice with a long strike to Biren Ealy, but the freshman was unable to gather in the accurate pass 40 yards down field. The defense got to Johnson twice, including a sack where defensive ends Fata Avegalio and Andre Torrey both reached the quarterback at the same time.

Costa was 2-3 for 10 yards, but also stumbled in his drop and lost three yards. Despite being sacked once, O'Hara completed both of his pass attempts, including a misdirection play action pass that went for 15 yards and ended with Steve Flemming knocking corner back Jason Martin down as he ran up field.

Notes:
*Adam Moro is seeing action at free safety. The walk-on was originally brought in as a strong safety, but is now seeing time at both spots.
*Punter James Molina, who will join the team when school starts, has been at the last few practices observing.
*Freshman defensive tackle Matt Lam missed practice while dealing with, "personal issues".
*The full results of the ‘Mackovic Mile' were not made available, but it was revealed that Bobby Wade crossed the finish line first with a time of 5:04.
*For a full update on injuries, go to the INJURY REPORT.


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