Spring practice: day 4

Friday saw the football team practice in full pads. Thus, the scrimmage portions of practice were full-contact, and there were some big hits as a result. The defense was particularly stingy against the run, and the offense failed to get into the end zone.

First scrimmage session

Jake Heaps took command of the offense for the first scrimmage reps. After the defense stuffed a couple rushes, Heaps completed a 10-yard pass to Joshua Quezada.

Following a false-start penalty, Riley Nelson got his first chance of the day to lead the offense. But after a couple unproductive rushes, including a J.J. Di Luigi run that was stuffed for a loss, Nelson's only pass of the set fell incomplete.

Next up was James Lark. After another rushing play was stuffed in the backfield for a loss, Quezada finally broke one for about 16 yards. Following a 9-yard completion from Lark, Di Luigi had a short rush to move the chains.

Offensive coaches opted to give Jason Munns a go at quarterback at this point, though all he did was hand off twice. Once again, the defense didn't allow much in the way of yardage to be gained on the ground.

Heaps got another set of reps, but a Bryan Kariya rush for good yardage was called back for a penalty. A bad snap doomed the final play of the practice's first scrimmage session.

Second scrimmage session

The second scrimmage session was run a little differently, with coaches incorporating the kicking game into the scrimmage.

Despite the general offensive struggles in the first scrimmage session, the second session began with a bang. Ross Apo got behind the secondary, and Heaps found him for a 59-yard completion, giving the offense first and goal at the 9-yard line. But after a short rush by Quezada, Robbie Buckner broke up a Heaps pass on second down. A 5-yard pass to Kariya on third down failed to get the offense into the end zone, and so they settled for a successful field goal courtesy of Justin Sorensen.

Nelson then got his opportunity. Drew Phillips got involved immediately, rushing twice for a combined 7 yards. Nelson scrambled on third down for 3 yards, picking up the first down. Tight end Matthew Edwards then caught an 11-yard pass, which was followed by a Phillips run for no gain. Defensive lineman Garrett Eskelsen recorded a sack on the next play. An 8-yard pass to Dallin Cutler wasn't enough to move the chains on third down, resulting in a punt.

Heaps' next set began with an incompletion. Quezada then ran for 4 yards. On third down, Di Luigi caught a pass and made defenders miss as he cut to the outside. Defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna smacked Di Luigi from behind, but not until he had gained 7 yards and moved the chains. After a Quezada 8-yard rush and a sack by the defense, Quezada got going again with a 15-yard screen pass as he made some defenders miss. Di Luigi then had a 10-yard rush, but the promising series came to an end when Aveni Leung-Wai stripped Quezada of the ball on the next play and the defense recovered.

Munns got the final set of reps, and it didn't go well. Phillips' first rush was for a loss of 1 yard, with the offensive line failing to get a good push. Munns then completed a pass to Phillips, but he was smacked down by safety Jray Galea'i in the open field, and there was no gain on the play. The most success the offense had on the drive came following a personal foul penalty on the defense, but a Phillips rush for 3 yards and two incompletions failed to get things going.

Practice notes

- For the first time in spring camp – or at least the first time that this reporter noticed – the team ended practice by yelling, "Beat Ole Miss!"

- As mentioned, Ross Apo was fully suited up and participating during Friday's practice. Apo had injured himself on Tuesday after colliding with a fence at the practice field during drills, but head trainer Kevin Morris said he is doing well and that his injury was just a muscle contusion.

- Cody Hoffman didn't participate in Friday's practice, as his foot was in a boot. It was actually not due to any injury sustained in a previous practice. Morris said that Hoffman actually woke up last night with pain in his ankle, and that it isn't believed to be a big issue. Morris said it could be gout or tendonitis.

- Jordan Pendleton made an appearance at the practice field, though he didn't participate either. Morris said it will probably be six-to-eight weeks until Pendleton will be ready for full speed.

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