So as head coach Bronco Mendenhall's first spring practice draws to a close, he has seen both positives and negatives regarding his team. "I don't think we're at a point where I feel good yet," said Mendenhall. "A personal choice needs to be made by these guys if they embrace [the standard] or not."
One thing Mendenhall has been happy with is how the team has responded in certain situations. Paramount among these situations would be the lack-luster showing last Friday at LaVell Edwards stadium which the team followed up with another scrimmage this past Tuesday. "I feel we made tremendous progress on Tuesday", said Mendenhall, "but I think they practiced poorly today and I was very disappointed. They have yet to not respond when asked but I'd like to ask them less frequently. It's becoming very clear to what my role will have to be as a team general. I've learned a lot about this team and how I need to coach them."
"It doesn't matter if we're tired, if we don't have key guys there or whatever, we can't afford as a team to take a step back in any situation or in any practice," said junior running back Curtis Brown. "There is no excuse not to give it our all every day."
Like Coach Mendenhall, Brown was disgusted with what he saw on film from Friday's scrimmage. "What we saw on film from Friday was what we've seen for the past 3 years and that is unacceptable. Playing like that didn't get us anywhere throughout those years and it won't get us anywhere if we continue with that effort. We can't slack off, we have to keep improving with every practice."
As the team prepares for a rousing close to spring practice this Saturday, Brown feels they need to continue that upward trend, "I think we responded well, but the point is that we need to keep going to the point where we don't have to keep responding to something. Coach Mendenhall wants to see us get to the point where he doesn't have to challenge us to do well and that's our goal this Saturday and for the rest of the season starting with workouts, fall practice and the regular season. Everyday we need to challenge ourselves."
So what role will Coach Mendenhall take in Saturday's Blue and White game? "I'm not going to take a more reserved role, I'm going to try and make us better," Mendenhall stated. "It will be the same exact format as what we had on Tuesday of 1's against the 1's and 2's against the 2's. There won't be a true blue and white team. One offense will be blue and the other offense will be white and so forth. This thing needs to work and we need to compete. I reserved judgment to what the format would be until the last week and so far from what I've seen I think we need to play, so that's what we'll do."
Added C. Brown: "It's all about A.D.E. Accountability, discipline and effort. It's what Bronco wants out of us and if we keep those things in mind and live those things, then the sky is the limit for this team. I'm very excited, I mean, I'm so fired up for Saturday. I think we as an offense have a lot more to show than we have so far. The defense is going to be up. They'll be very physical and we'll have to match that. It's going to be a lot of fun, but to be fun we have to be accountable, show discipline and give it all that we have."
Today's practice served as a tune-up for Saturday's Blue-White game as the team practiced in half-pads and ended the practice with a light scrimmage. Some of the highlights included:
-Harline catching passes of 7, 10, 5 and 15 yards. His first catches were from Jo. Beck and the final two from Matt Berry
-Matt Smith again pulling in several nice grabs including a middle out from John Beck that he turned up field for a 30-yard gain and a 60-yard pass on a fly pattern from Jo. Beck that he took for a touchdown
-Matt Berry throwing a touchdown pass of his own to Joe Griffin in the back of the end zone. Griffin laid out to make a finger-tip grab for the 25-yard score
-Vince Feula tallying a sack
- Linebacker Richard Nehring saw exclusive reps with the 1's in place of Markell Staffieri. "[Nehring] moved up [the depth chart] today," said Mendenhall. "We felt he did well on Tuesday and we have six to eight linebackers that are very close in ability. We'll see how he does on Saturday with the 1's
-Mendenhall also indicated that there will be very few positions won this spring; rather, he will leave everything open come fall camp. "There isn't a clear enough separation in most positions for any of the players to feel comfortable where they are," he concluded.