Spring practice report: defense day 3

The defense bent a little more on Thursday against the first-team offense, with the passing game and running game having some success. However, there were some standout performances during Thursday's team period.

Defensive line

The first-team defensive line, as expected, had the more productive day Thursday. On the right side, Eathyn Manumaleuna did such a good job in controlling the two-gap on a particular play that it allowed Uona Kaveinga to rush through virtually untouched. Meanwhile, Riley Nelson was right in the mix of a play-action handoff and unexpectedly rolled out right into Kaveinga's blitzing path.

Ian Dulan is beginning to assert himself more and more. Dulan shot through the two gap on one play and past Nelson for what would have been a sack if it were full-contact. The coaches let the play continue, but it wouldn't have if it was a live game.

However, there was some offensive success against the defensive line on Thursday. Cougar backs Joshua Quezada and Michael Alisa found holes opening up in the middle and took advantage of them. The second-team defensive line quickly got acquainted with walk-on running back Paul Lasike as he ran past into the second tier of the defense on several occasions.

Linebacker

The meanest guy out on the field so far – who will probably win the Daily Herald's "Justin Luettgerodt" award if he keep up with the chippy play – is middle linebacker Brandon Ogletree. Whether it's skeli or team scrimmage, Ogletree brings the attitude on every play. He again mixed it up with an offensive player, this time Cody Raymond, in the middle of the field.

As already mentioned, Kaveinga recorded a sack while playing with steadiness and consistency. Kaveinga has recorded two sacks in two days of practice now against the first-team offense.

Alani Fua continues to perform well on the outside. Thursday, he was involved in a few good pass coverage plays that forced the quarterback to look elsewhere. He also broke up a pass to a running back sprinting out of the backfield. Both Fua and Spencer Hadley continue to rotate in with the first-team defense.

On the second-team defense, Zac Stout and Tyler Beck are pushing hard. Stout is looking more and more comfortable at the Mike linebacker position and Beck continues to be disruptive from the Buck linebacker position. Beck was disruptive a few times for receivers in crossing routes over the middle and continues to play physical despite not being in pads.

Cornerbacks

Safety Mike Hague was again at the boundary cornerback position with the first-team defense. Jordan Johnson made a nice play on a pass to Ross Apo at the field side and broke up the play. Johnson continues to impress out on an island. Sophomore Cameron Comer ran with the second-team unit on Thursday, as did DeQuan Everett.

Safeties

The hard hit of the day goes to Daniel Sorensen, who roughed up Terenn Houk on well-timed physical play on the ball. Houk ran out and got into his route early, where he sat. The pass came in and Sorensen dislodged the ball from Houk's grasp with a well-timed over-the-shoulder swat that sent Houk to the ground. Houk shook it off and returned to the lineup.

For the second practice in a row, Joe Sampson recorded an interception. Nelson dropped back and threw a pass which sailed over the head of a tight end crossing deep. Sampson broke on the pass from the free safety spot and recorded the interception.

Sideline notes

Former Cougar cornerback Corby Eason was on hand to watch the team scrimmage Thursday.


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