Coach Anae interview
During spring and fall camp, the Cougars generally scrimmage twice during each practice. One scrimmage takes place in the middle of the practice, while the other takes place at the end. However, after the second scrimmage late into Saturday's practice, a peculiar thing occurred: the Cougars kept going and going. After performing more drills for a while, the Cougars then scrimmaged a third time.
It certainly appears that the team is being prepared for the demands that the offense's new rapid tempo will place on both the offense and defense (Coach Mendenhall said they anticipate the defense having to play the equivalent of an extra quarter of football each game because of the offense's new tempo).
Throughout the different scrimmages on Saturday, the offense consistently sought to run at a fast pace and get plays off quickly. It didn't always go off smoothly, as there were a few issues with the quarterback-center exchange, but that is sometimes to be expected on the first day of fall camp, especially when the team is breaking in some new centers.
The first of the three scrimmage periods took place in the blue zone.
After being named the starter following spring camp, quarterback Taysom Hill ran with the first-team offense on Saturday. His first series ended several plays in after safety Daniel Sorensen intercepted his first pass. His second series wasn't a whole lot better. His lone pass fell incomplete, thanks in part to Jordan Johnson's tight coverage on Cody Hoffman.
Ammon Olsen led the second-team offense and got one series. On third-and-long, Ross Apo made a diving catch – one of his two receptions during the series – to extend the drive. However, the drive soon stalled and the offense had to settle for a field goal.
Christian Stewart got one drive with the third-team offense, and started it off by running the ball for about 10 yards. Nate Carter then carried the ball two consecutive times, the second time for a touchdown.
The offense did not start in the blue zone during the second and third scrimmage periods.
Hill got another two series during the second scrimmage. He started to get things going through the air, completing two passes to both Brett Thompson and Skyler Ridley for about a combined 60 yards during the scrimmage, but didn't cap off either series with a score.
Olsen and Stewart each got two series as well, but their drives featured mostly running plays and no completions.
During the final scrimmage of the day, Hill once again got two different series. His first series ended quickly after a few short runs by Jamaal Williams and Paul Lasike, and then a sack by Jherremya Leuta-Doutere. The second series, however, was much more productive. He completed a pass of about 15 yards or so to J.D. Falslev, and two plays later hit Ridley for a gain of about 50 yards. But after short completions to Cody Hoffman and Falslev, Apo dropped what would have been a touchdown on third down.
During Olsen's lone drive during the final scrimmage, the offense found itself in a hole thanks to a penalty and a fumbled snap. However, he was able to convert on third-and-very-long with a pass of about 25 yards to Apo. Unfortunately for Olsen, two plays later he was intercepted by Matthew Relei.
Stewart also got in a final series, during which Carter remained busy by catching a short pass and getting a couple carries in as well. The drive, however, stalled.
- Kyle Van Noy was held out of practice after tweaking his hammy during the offseason. Mendenhall said the plan is to let him heal up for a few weeks before then ramping it up in preparation for the season-opener against Virginia. - Michael Alisa was also held out due to some injury issues, but the coaches expect him to be ready to go against Virginia. - Mike Hague, who has dealt with injury issues as well, won't be ready until early in the season.