The offensive line is still in constant flux. The first team unit went as follows today (L-R): Brad Wilcox, Kyle Johnson, Tejan Koroma, Brayden Kearsley, and De’Ondre Wesley. Garret Tujague is still mixing and matching various players on the two deep to see what his rotation will be. Coach Tujague mentioned that the shift of playing Ului Lapuaho at left tackle and Wesley at right tackle is a permanent move.
Mitch Mathews continues to play the z-receiver position while Devon Blackmon was lined up at the outside at the x-receiver position. Mathews and Blackmon stretched the field quite well today during team scrimmage, which wasn’t full contact and not in full pads. Both Mathews and Blackmon had a lot of success also during the skeleton portion of today’s practice catching multiple passes by beating out BYU’s cornerbacks.
Quarterback Taysom Hill dropped back during one specific play during the team scrimmage and connected with Mitch Mathews deep for a 60 yard touchdown. Mathews caught the pass and bobbed and weaved his way through traffic while no defensive back was able to catch him. Mathews also made a nice catch on a different play during team after making a nifty move after the catch that went for a significant gain. If Mathews can stay healthy he’ll be a major force to be reckoned with.
It was getting a little chippy out on the field today between the receivers and cornerbacks, and Devon Blackmon was right in the thick of a lot of it. Blackmon, confident and emerging as a major talent, was constantly challenging Trent Trammell. The two battled back and forth fiercely during the skeleton portion of today’s practice. After Blackmon made a nice move to create separation, he caught a pass from Taysom Hill despite good coverage from Trammell. Blackmon let him know that he made the catch by handing him the ball. The following play Trammell came up and jammed Blackmon at the line of scrimmage with a lot of force, but Blackmon was able to recover quickly and get by and into his route. Blackmon made another difficult catch, and quietly extended the ball to Trammell. The back and forth jostling went on throughout the skeleton portion of today’s practice.
Jordan Leslie was on fire today during both the skeleton and team portions of practice. Leslie caught a few passes from both Hill and Christian Stewart in both traffic and in the open field. Leslie got into a tussle with a defensive back after some tight coverage near the sideline.
Walk-on slot receiver Jake Ziolkowski was running with the first team offense at the slot receiver position. Ziolkowski has slowly and steady improved over the course of fall camp and could be one of the unknown surprises of fall camp. He’s already the best blocking receiver despite being 6-0, 190-pounds.
The field goal unit was tested quite a bit today by the coaching staff. The first team unit featured Trevor Sampson and the second team featured Vance “Moose” Bingham. From around the 35-yard line the two units competed and both Sampson and Bingham missed one field goal apiece. The two kickers eight made out of 10 field goals. Bronco Mendenhall mentioned that Samson leads the kicking competition but that the race was still close.
The defense did pretty good today from what could be seen during the limited observation period, but the offense had the better day during the light practice schedule. There was a bit of a noticeable difference today up front with the pressure being placed on the QB position with the return of Bronson Kaufusi at the wheel linebacker position.
Bronson Kaufusi Returns
The pocket collapsed a lot quicker today with the added pressure being provided on the edge. Much of that could be placed at the feet of outside linebacker Bronson Kaufusi. Kaufusi is such a natural pass rusher on the edge that he crashes and dents the offensive line forcing the quarterbacks to sometimes release the ball much quicker than they want to. His return is a big boost to the defense.
Sione Takitaki has been moved from inside linebacker to the outside linebacker according to Kelly Poppinga. Takitaki had a very good fall camp playing inside linebacker all camp long, but his speed as a pass rusher has prompted coaches to change his position to the outside after allowing him to go two plays at outside linebacker spot. In two plays Takitaki made two sacks on the outside, so the switch to outside was quickly made.
Bronco Mendenhall Speaks
Coach Mendenhall addressed the media today giving his overall thoughts on fall camp. He talks about the depth chart and how he isn’t quite ready to name his starters as the Cougars prepare to transition from personal focus towards their season opener. To listen to Coach Mendenhall field many question from today click the link below.
Coach Mendenhall Audio