"My hope is that it would help us start at a higher level come spring. From watching what our young players are doing and where they are now, they have a long way to go until they're where we want them to be during the spring. My hope is that through these practices that we can get that level up."
Conditioning and position mastery were mentioned by Coach Mendenhall as being the focus before real game preparation the week before their bowl game. Coaches have light hour-long practices planned for the first week followed by increased contact with every week up until the final week of preparation against whoever the Cougars face in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Where are all the coaches?
"We had two full-time coaches here today," said Coach Mendenhall, "We have myself and Coach Anae. Coach Tidwell had his knee operated on today, and we're allowed to have three off the road, so we'll be managing with a shortened staff all this week and up to Thursday of next week."
The other coaches are out on the recruiting trail as the letter of intent day draws nearer and nearer. The modified practice routine provides a great opportunity for some of the unheralded members of Cougar staff. "It gives our graduate assistants to do some more coaching," said Coach Mendenhall
The Wounded coming back
Nate Soelberg is expected to play as he recovers from injuries to both of his arms. "He'll be x-rayed on Monday and we'll make an assessment then," said Mendenhall of his senior cornerback. "Both casts will come off on Monday. We're hopeful that he'll be back."
Offensive lineman Travis Bright, who had the season taken away from him after surgery on his broken ankle did not heal properly, was running and doing various drills and looks to be on schedule for full recovery.