Riley Nelson again had the better day and was able to sustain drives up and down the field for the first time this spring camp. Nelson went 9-of-10 for 86 yards and threw one touchdown on the last series to Cody Hoffman. On the last drive of the scrimmage, Nelson went 5-of-5 for 60 yards.
Lark really struggled connecting with the receivers Thursday. The chemistry between him and the pass-catchers has got to improve. Lark didn't complete a single pass Thursday and went 0-of-4.
As already mentioned, Thursday was the best day of spring camp as far as running back production. Leading the way was Joshua Quezada, who seems to really have grasped the idea that he's being leaned upon as a go-to guy. Quezada is making quicker decisions this year and that's helping him in between the tackles. If Quezada is going to be an effective runner, his work is going to have to come between the tackles, and on Thursday that's exactly what happened.
Quezada took a handoff and busted up the gut for the first carry of the day. Alisa, not to be left out of what would be a series of successful runs, followed suit but was stopped by Uona Kaveinga.
In the second scrimmage series, Quezada again burst through the seams for another very good run to the cheers of the sidelines. As he got into the second tier of the defense he cut to the outside for more yardage.
The "whoa, where did that come from" moment came from – wait for it – wait for it, walk-on running back Paul Lasike. Lasike showed some of his athleticism off Thursday after hitting a hole in the two-gap that got Coach Doman excited. He then cut to the outside and ran down the sideline for what appeared to be a touchdown. On one series, while playing with the third-team unit, Lasike made another nice run for a modest gain. Coach Doman went over and greeted him with a warm reception while placing his arm around him and giving him some coaching encouragement.
Alisa also had a few nice runs as well. In the third scrimmage series, Alisa took the field with the first-team unit and busted one for a short gain. Brandon Ogletree and Spencer Hadley joined in on making the stop. His best run came in the eighth series when he took the handoff, hit the hole and made a quick cut to the outside before a linebacker could reach him. He sprinted downfield while many of his teammates ran along the sideline with him, before a streaking Seth Probert caught up to him in the blue zone for a stop. Alisa also made his presence known in the passing game by catching a 22-yard pass from Nelson.
As the run game goes, so does the offensive line. The interior of the line had one of the best days of early spring camp. Sure, there were mistakes made and the defense made plays against the offensive line, but the inside combination of Manaaki Vaitai, Blair Tushaus and Brock Stringham opened up holes in the middle for Quezada, Alisa and Lasike.
The standout performance of the day goes to Cody Hoffman, who had three catches for 36 yards and scored a touchdown on the final drive.
In skeli drills, Terenn Houk caught a single pass from Nelson for a modest 5 yards over the middle, asdid Dallin Cutler from the y-receiver position. Houk caught a touchdown pass in skeli drills from Lark, as did 6-foot-2-inch, 170-pound Kurt Henderson.
Marcus Mathews is still the go-to guy here, but didn't have quite the day Thursday as he did the past two days. Mathews caught one pass for a modest 5 yards. However, he continues to make his presence known downfield, and quarterbacks are looking and throwing to him.
Interestingly enough, it was the day of the walk-ons at the tight end position. Trevor Brown – the younger brother of Braden Brown – had a decent day in skeli, and 6-foot-4-inch, 240-pound freshman walk-on Darin Tuttle had a 20 yard-reception and also made a good catch in skeli drills on a pass from Nelson.
Thursday's standout performers
The standout performer of the day goes to Quezada and Hoffman. Both turned in a good day's work for the third day of spring practice.
Offensive lineman Tui Crichton, who just returned home from his mission, watched practice on Thursday. Crichton has been working out with cornerback Trevor Bateman to help shake the mission rust off their legs.