Spring camp: day 3

The Cougars practiced outside for the first time on Thursday, and despite some chilly weather, the offense managed to heat up for the first time this spring. Riley Nelson had his best day so far, while the running game got going as well.

Thursday was the last practice before the Cougars don pads on Friday for the first time. It was also a step up for the offense, which had scored only one field goal during the first two days of scrimmaging, but finally managed to get into the end zone on Thursday.

The passing game started to get going, as did the running game. Joshua Quezada was able to break the runs up the middle during the non-tackling practice, while Michael Alisa was able to make some plays as well.

"I like the combination right now, both Juice and Mike Alisa on the field at the same time," said Coach Mendenhall. "That looks pretty good, and so that might be something you see in the fall.

Scrimmage notes

Riley Nelson went 9-of-10 for 86 yards and a touchdown. His lone incompletion was either an errant throw or a miscommunication with his receiver that resulted in a Joe Sampson interception.

But, for the most part Nelson was successful on Thursday. He completed passes to Cody Hoffman, Marcus Mathews, Ross Apo, and Michael Alisa. Hoffman in particular shined, catching three passes for 36 yards and a touchdown. One reception, which went for 26 yards on the final drive of the day, was a vintage Hoffman catch. Right by the sideline, he reached out and grabbed a pass headed out of bounds while keeping both of his feet planted in bounds. Hoffman held onto the ball as he fell to the ground.

Three plays later, Alisa caught a pass out of the backfield and juked a defender, breaking free for 22 yards to set the offense up with a first-and-goal. On the next play, Nelson hit Hoffman with a short touchdown pass to close out practice.

James Lark couldn't match Nelson's production, going 0-of-4, although he was the victim of a drop. One of his sets came with the ones, while Nelson got all other sets with the ones. Taysom Hill got one short set, but a dropped snapped doomed what would have been his lone pass attempt.

Daniel Sorensen broke up a pass while Lark played with the ones, while Jordan Johnson deflected an underthrown Lark pass.


- Legendary coach LaVell Edwards attended a portion of Thursday's practice. Former BYU player and coach Brian Mitchell was also in attendance. Mitchell is currently East Carolina's defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach.

- Former Cougar and current St. Louis Ram linebacker David Nixon watched practice as well.

- Coach Mendenhall said they will probably go fewer days with full-contact than the NCAA allows, because of current depth and the fear of further injuries. He indicated the team will have more full-contact in the fall, however, saying the fall is probably the most important to him.

- Defensive lineman Simote Vea was given another year of eligibility by the NCAA, something that wasn't found out until after last season ended and Vea was honored on Senior Night and during the team's end-of-the-year banquet.

- Mendenhall said Ian Dulan has been the best defensive lineman of spring camp so far.

- The Cougar head coach said linebacker Manoa Pikula not only will probably be a great special teams player, but that he wouldn't be surprised if he cracks the two-deep this year, whether at Mike or Buck.

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