Spring camp: day 4

The Cougars finally donned pads on Friday, which was probably a good thing, given that it was another heated and chippy practice. The offense and defense mixed it up on several occasions, and Coach Mendenhall wouldn't have it any other way, as he likes his team's competitive fire. All in all, the Cougar head coach likes what he has seen during the first week of spring camp.

"I think we have a competitive, physical, good football team, and I think we're on track to have another good season," Coach Mendenhall said when asked to evaluate the first week of spring camp.

As has been particularly frequent this spring, the defense and offense don't seem to care much for each other out on the practice field. Fights and trash talking are certainly nothing new when it comes to offseason football, but they have been more frequent so far this spring.

"They're just so competitive, and I love that about our team," said Mendenhall. "With Riley [Nelson] at quarterback, and guys like [Uona] Kaveinga and [Brandon] Ogletree on defense, with them being that close even before the ball is snapped and just to hear the stuff that they're saying to each other, it's kind of escalating before the ball is even had a chance to be put into play, so it's good."

It hasn't been uncommon this spring to see players on the sidelines run onto the field and join in once some fighting gets going after a play, but at one point during Friday's scrimmage, Coach Mendenhall actually had to tell injured players to keep from doing so. That's right, even guys in slings were wanting to go hit someone.

Scrimmage notes

Riley Nelson had another good day, going 8-of-10 for 66 yards and one touchdown. His first series was a bit of a struggle, however, as Romney Fuga was able to get a clear lane to Nelson for a sack, and Ezekiel Ansah batted down a pass to end the set. Nelson completed passes of about 5 yards to both Cody Hoffman and Marcus Mathews.

Nelson's second set was much more successful, although it came against the threes on defense. He completed passes to Hoffman, Mathews, Ross Apo and Zed Mendenhall, before converting a fourth down with another pass to Mathews. Nelson finished off the practice-ending set with a touchdown pass to a wide open Kaneakua Friel from about 10 yards out.

James Lark was also able to get some things going through the air, although ultimately he couldn't capitalize on his drive. He went 3-of-6 for 46 yards, getting some good yardage on passes to Cody Raymond and Kurt Henderson. Henderson actually caught a pass down the middle of the field and had an open lane to the end zone, but tripped. Trevor Brown also got in the action with a short reception.

The drive ended on fourth down when Alani Fua was not fooled by a play action pass and had great coverage on Lark's intended receiver, getting an interception.

At the beginning of that series, Mike Muehlmann batted a pass at the line of scrimmage, nearly intercepting it for an easy touchdown.

For the most part, the running game couldn't get going, and the defense capitalized on being allowed to tackle for the first this spring. Things didn't come easy for the running backs, and the defense seemed to quite enjoy that.

Notes

- Mike Hague went to the emergency room last night with some serious stomach pains, which doctors believed may have been due to a gall bladder infection. But despite being at the hospital until about 5 a.m., he practiced fully on Friday.

- When asked about which players have caught his eye so far this spring, Mendenhall mentioned Joshua Quezada, Michael Alisa, Jordan Johnson, Joe Sampson, Mike Hague, Manoa Pikula, Brock Stringham, Manaaki Vaitai, Paul Lasike and James Lark.


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