Defense catches offense by surprise

After a great offensive showing in LaVell Edwards Stadium last Saturday, and a good offensive battle throughout the past week, the defense came out and dominated Monday's morning practice and team scrimmage. One can chalk it up to being just a typical Monday, but it was more than that. Monday's defensive performance caught the offense by surprise.

Defensive enthusiasts would have been proud of Monday's Cougar defensive performance. The defense came out during the practice and, well, punched the offense in the mouth.

"I didn't feel like we had the right level of focus out here today," running back Bryan Kariya said. "As an offense today, I felt like we weren't assignment-sound in hitting the fundamentals."

After a great first week of fall camp, the offense uncharacteristically underperformed and seemed to struggle with what the defense fielded during the team period.

"The defense is going to throw different things at us as camp progresses," Kariya said. "We have to be ready because they're going to throw more blitzes at us, they're going to throw different things that will challenge us mentally. They're going to come after us."

And come at them they did. The defense was flying around, and the defensive line stunted and twisted up front as different blitz packages were used, catching the offense by surprise.

"I'm never satisfied letting them win anything any day," said a stern Kariya. "I know there is still a lot of practice left to do in fall camp, but as an offense I feel like we have the potential and the opportunity to go out and dominate every single practice. I think it was mainly a mental slip today, and I don't think we were as prepared [mentally] coming into this practice today."

It wasn't just many of the offensive players that felt as though the defense one-upped the offense. Coach Doman couldn't get off the field fast enough and into the film room to evaluate Monday's performance, and the Cougar offense couldn't wait to get back out on the field later during the day's second practice to set things straight.

"The defense threw a lot of different blitzes at us," Coach Doman said. "That's what that was."

"I'm looking forward to coming back this afternoon and cleaning a lot of that up," Kariya said.

It was a good change of pace for the offense. They were tested to see how well the various backs picked up the different blitzes and how well the tight ends did in blocking. The offensive line was tested in how well they switched off defenders as stunting and twisting linemen created gaps for blitzing linebackers.

"I think the waters always get tested, but we have a lot of packages the defense has to put in for their season," said Kariya. "As an offense we're going to counter a lot of that stuff. We understand that there's always a progression going on as an offense and a defense, and I think with a lot of the stuff that we had thrown in the last couple of days, the offense has had the upper hand at the end of practice. "Today I think the defense – with some of the things they put in today – we weren't quite ready for, but I feel confident we'll be able to clean all that up. It's kind of a tug of war on who's going to come out and make the most plays, and I'm just really looking forward to coming back out for practice this afternoon and making sure that we're the ones feeling happy at the end of the day."

By the time the offense steps back out onto the field, Coach Doman will have his Cougars ready.

"We'll have meetings and things before the next practice to better understand what they were doing out here," said Kariya. "We'll go back in and take care of business. During a game, you have the halftime to make the adjustments and time on the sidelines to correct things.

"During practice it's just kind of boom, boom, boom and you keep going. We'll be ready by the time we come back out here again today. The ultimate goal is for the entire team to prepare ourselves for Ole Miss on September 3rd, and I think overall the entire team is progressing and doing just that."

Injury update

Wide receiver Jordan Smith is still out with a broken tailbone that he suffered early last week. Linebacker Tyler Beck was out Monday with a minor shin injury. Running back Joshua Quezada should be back to full-go by the middle of the week.

Safety Jray Galea'i is still out with some tendonitis that flared up. Safety Mike Hague received most of the reps with the first-team in place of Travis Uale, who suffered bruised ribs during Saturday's scrimmage.

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