Cougars hexed by Mississippi voodoo?

The Cougar offense came off the field on Monday looking as though they had just suffered a last-minute loss. Spirits were low and faces were long. After two weeks of intense fall camp practice, the offense experienced a day of disappointment that left a bad taste in the mouths of many.

There could be many excuses for a bad day of practice, such as the typical excuses of "It's Monday" or "We're tired of looking at each other." Whatever the case may be, the overall reports from Monday were that the offense simply had a bad day.

"The defense didn't do anything stellar," said a very stern Jake Heaps. "The interception I threw, they had the perfect call for the right play. You know, Kyle [Van Noy] made a great play on the ball. Other than that … we chose not to have a great day today and we could have had a great day today. We chose not to."

"There were a lot of missed assignments and dropped passes by everybody," said a down Ross Apo. "The receivers, we need to clean that up. I don't know, it's a Monday and we should pick up the intensity from the beginning."

Back on the field after suffering a minor injury, Apo admitted his day back catching passes with the first-team offense was not the kind of return he was looking for.

"Yeah, I'm very surprised," Apo said. "After some of those dropped passes I had and we were all having, I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh, I don't know what's going on.' I just couldn't put my finger on it.

"I had two dropped passes today that were easy routine catches. Those were two catches that I should have had some good yards. I don't know what my deal was today. I just need to come back later today and get this bad taste out of my mouth."

Wide receiver coach Ben Cahoon was calm, cool and collected despite the offensive performance. Coach

"Well, we have to identify what the individual issues were," said Coach Cahoon. "Sometimes the issues are just focus and concentration [rather] than actual technique or problems with their routes or hands and putting their bodies in positions to make the catch. It's just hard to tell. Today there were too many balls on the ground. We'll find out the reason for that than address it."

While Apo was harsh on himself, Heaps came to Apo's defense by painting a rosier picture.

"Well, he's just been injured, and that's been the thing – he's just been injured," Heaps said. "It was his first day back [in a while] and he came out here and had a couple drops. It's not a big deal and he'll bounce back from that, and, you know, if anyone can bounce back from that, it's Ross.

"He's going to look at it and fix it, so I'm not worried about it, and everybody has an off day. I'm just happy to have him back out here on the field, and we have all the tools we need. It's just a matter of coming out here and putting it all together."

It appears that while Apo struggled to get a grip on the ball, he wasn't the only one experiencing the doldrums of Monday's uncharacteristically bad practice.

"It was just a matter of want to and mental readiness," Heaps said. "We just have to come out here and practice harder and be more mentally sharp. We'll do that today in our next practice."

"Today we just came out flat," Apo said. "It started out that way and lasted pretty much the whole day. We were flat. I don't know, we really haven't had many days like this coming off a Sunday ... Honestly, I don't know what it is but we need to pick it up. Usually we come out and everybody's got that swagger and everybody is catching passes and laughing. Today it just felt like nobody was laughing and people were just moping around. I don't know, it was just a bad day."

The good thing is that Monday is a two-a-day practice, so the Cougars can go in, watch film, make team adjustments and return to out on the practice field to put the Cougar universe back in order.

"We have a practice at the end of today and I think it's something we take upon ourselves as players," Heaps said. "You know, the coaching staff got us ready and the coaching staff prepared us for practice. It had nothing to do with the coaching staff and had everything to do with our players in our offense."

"I don't think it's because we're tired of one another or anything like that," said Apo. "We won't have another practice like this. The coaches basically told us to pull our heads out of our rear ends. They said, ‘Just because it was a Monday, that's no excuse.' I think we'll get our heads on straight and come back out here and get our act together. Like I said, we don't usually have days like this, so this has to stop now."

"We have ‘til Wednesday of our last few days of fall camp to practice against each other and get each other better and then we'll focus on Ole Miss," Heaps said. "Today was a good day for our offense to realize we have to come out and practice, so I'm actually kind of happy this happened."

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