On the new injury front, just when he was cleared for contact drills today, junior college wide receiver transfer Joe Griffin will likely redshirt because he cannot perform at his 100 percent best because of the lingering effects from off-season knee surgery. On the defensive side, linebacker-turned katback K.C. Bills may require season-ending shoulder injury as well.
One influential voice not totally impressed with the defensive effort today was defensive coordinator Bronco Mendenhall, who said he expects better execution from his defensive unit.
The defensive scrimmage stars were defensive ends Shaun Nua with the first team unit and John Denney playing with the second teamers – to give coaches a closer look at Michael Marquardt. Nua had three sacks, one knockdown and one tackle for loss while Denney was equally as impressive with one sack, three tackles for loss and one knockdown. Freshman walk-on linebacker Markell Staffieri played primarily with the first team unit in place of Justin Luettgerodt for the same reason.
Sophomore quarterback John Beck played exclusively with the first team today and completed passes to a variety of wide receivers in Rod Wilkerson, Chris Hale, Todd Watkins, Jason Kukahiko, Antwaun Harris and B.J. Mathis. He was also intercepted twice by linebacker Cameron Jensen and cornerback Micah Alba. His highlight-reel pass of the scrimmage was a perfectly thrown 60-yard touchdown bomb to his ace receiver Todd Watkins.
In the first five consecutive series with the first team unit, John Beck completed seven passes; had two others batted down (Nua and Hala Paongo) ; was sacked twice (Nua and Jon Burbidge); and was flushed out of the pocket twice by defensive pressure. Running back Curtis Brown had several nice runs on a nine-yard gain and on another option play.
There were at least two bad snaps from center between Lance Reynolds, Jr. and Beck that evoked quiet groans from the capacity crowd in attendance. It was not all bad news, though. Beck made a great hot read as the defense blitzed heavy from the right and Wilkerson cut off his pattern and Beck hit him for a 6-yard gain.
On his next series, Beck completed three straight completions to Wilkerson (10 yards), Harris (13-yards) and Hale (4-yards). Hale took a brutal hit from Cougarback Aaron Francisco. The hit must have reawakened Francisco's teammates Nua, linebacker Gary Lovely and Staffieri, who sacked and knocked down a Beck pass respectively. The drive ended on a Cameron Jensen interception on a pass that was bobbled by Austin Collie.
During his second-to-last series, Beck completed a 6-yard pass to Hale; was sacked by Burbidge; had passes dropped by Daniel Coats and Rod Wilkerson; was sacked again by Nua; had a catchable ball dropped by Harris; and ended the drive with a perfectly-thrown fly pass to Watkins for a touchdown that drew the loudest public cheers of the day.
Junior quarterback Matt Berry led the second team with completions to receivers Austin Collie, Riley Weber, B.J. Mathis, Matt Allen plus strikes to running backs Nathan Meikle and Raymond Hudson. Berry had no interceptions today and his highlight pass-of-the-day was a 70-yard picture-perfect touchdown strike to Austin Collie.
Berry made an impressive immediate impression when he promptly threw a 70-yard bomb to Collie on a perfectly executed fly route for a touchdown. In the next two series', the Berry-led Cougars made most of their headway on the game with runs of 4, 7, 0 and 7 yards from freshman Raymond Hudson Freshman linebacker Matt Baumann, who had an impressive showing today, and Denney sacked Berry. Denney and katback Billy Skinner also blocked Berry passes at the line of scrimmage.
In their next rotation, Hudson fumbled the ball after he was hit by Denney and E.J. Caffaro. Wide receiver Riley Weber caught a 5-yard reception, but a fourth-and one illegal motion penalty by the offense ended the drive.
After Beck, Beck and Brown had their turns, Berry and the second unit was up again, but impressive plays by Dan Bates, Quinn Gooch, Karland Bennett and Denney ended the series without any offensive highlights.
In his last offensive series, Berry completed an 18-yard pass to running backs Nathan Meikle and Hudson for consecutive short gains. The drive was abruptly terminated with another sack by Bates. When they lined up again, Markell Staffieri dropped Hudson in the backfield for a 4-yard loss and Meikle on a short gainer.
Junior quarterback Jason Beck played with the third teamers and had the least impressive outing of the four quarterbacks. He completed passes to receivers Matt Allen, Matthew Smith, Saia Hafoka, Zac Collie and running back Raymond Hudson.
In his first play from scrimmage, defensive end Judd Anderton dropped Beck for a 5-yard loss on an option play. After an incompletion, Beck hit Matt Allen for a great 38-yard pass; followed by a 19-yard run by Meikle and a 6-yard completion to Matt Smith.
In his next rotation, Beck completed three consecutive passes of 5, 7 and 3 yards to receiver Saia Hafoka and another nice 18-yard toss to Smith.
He also completed three consecutive completions to Hafoka for 5, 7 and 3 yards. After short completions to Hudson and Allen, the drive ended with a knockdown of a pass by Craig North that should have been intercepted.
Junior signal caller Jackson Brown completed passes to Matt Smith, B.J. Mathis, Saia Hafoka and Zac Collie alternating with the third unit. He threw three straight completions highlighted by a 32-yard pass to B.J. Mathis, who was wide open across the middle. After a holding penalty, Brown completed a 4-yard pass to Smith.
On his next rotation, Brown completed a pass to Smith and was sacked by linebacker Aaron Wagner. Jackson followed up with a 21-yard pass to Zac Collie and a 7-yard pass to Smith. The drive stalled with a series of incomplete passes once the offense reached the red zone. The one highlight came on a 16-yard grab by Zac Collie.
The first team took the field for a final time in a short-lived drive that started and ended with a pass deflected by linebacker Justin Luettgerodt at the line of scrimmage which was picked off by cornerback Micah Alba. That signaled a close to the scrimmage.
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