Meikle Rejoins Team in a Hurry

After being held out of most of fall camp activities for precautionary reasons, slot receiver Nate Meikle rejoined his offensive teammates for Monday evening's practice. Meikle wasted no time getting back in to the mix as the team worked on its hurry-up offense. Both offense and defense had their moments once more.

Nathan Meikle had been battling a hamstring injury that left him doing exercise drills with Coach Omer while his teammates run 11-on-11 drills. Last week, Meikle helped fellow freshman slot receiver Mike Hague learn the H receiver position.

When his number was called, Hague would run out and take up his spot on the line of scrimmage. Meikle would follow close behind him to instruct if he was in the right spot or not based on the offensive play. It is just another way that Coach Mendenhall and his staff get their players to assume ownership for the team.

During today's scrimmage, Meikle was no longer watching from the sidelines or helping younger members learn key positions. Instead, he was running routes and catching balls downfield from quarterback John Beck.

"First of all it was just fun," said Meikle with a grin. "I've been out for so long. I was out a lot in spring ball, and I was out a lot over the summer. First and foremost, it was just a lot of fun being out there with the guys."

When an athlete is used to playing with his teammates as a starter, being away from scrimmage activities can leave him feeling a bit disassociated from the team at times.

"Anytime someone gets hurt you, feel removed from the team because you are removed from the team," said Meikle. "I just feel like I'm a part of the team again, and it was a fun day. I think we struggled a little bit there at the end but my legs feel fine."

The layoff from going full speed during scrimmage drills can also set a player back a step or two. For Meikle, he feels he has gained a step or two over some of his fellow defenders.

"In some ways I feel a little more energized than a lot of these other guys that have been out here going through two-a-days and are a bit tired and beat up physically from the scrimmages," said Meikle. "I'm definitely a little bit rusty though. John [Beck] threw a pass to me on one play and I was busy blocking, so I'm a little bit rusty on a few things, but those are things I'll get back quickly. I'm just really happy and ecstatic to be back."

This afternoon's practice saw the offense performing the first two-minute offense of fall camp. The first team defense had the job of stopping the offense in this new setting and performed well. Highlights included Meikle catching a nice pass from quarterback John Beck. Meikle looked as though he had not missed a beat as he grabbed the pass and quickly turned up field.

"I think at times last year we were pretty efficient," said Meikle. "Today we were able to move the first team down the field and into scoring position two out of the three times running the two minute offense, which is a decent job. The second time we didn't move it as well as we would have liked to, but I'm sure with Coach Mendenhall if we didn't do a drill as well as he liked we'll be doing it again. I'm sure we'll be getting some more work on that drill to do a better job overall."

Throughout fall camp, the Cougars have been working on running their offense at a high rate of efficiency. To do so, coaches require players to repeat plays until they are executed correctly.

Now that fall camp is inching to a close, coaches will increase the pace in addition to the number of repetitions.

"We're running situational practice where it's at the end of a game and we're down a score with not much time left on the clock," Meikle said. "We're basically running our offense where we can spread it around in a way that will allow us to not take to much time off of the clock. We want to move the ball as quickly and efficiently as we can downfield without losing much time."

Two-Minute Scrimmage Defensive Highlights

Outside linebacker Kelly Poppinga snagged the ball out of midair for an interception.

Kyle Luekenga closed in the pocket to bat down a Jason Beck pass.

Judd Anderton recorded a sack during the third scrimmage drive.

Safety Cole Miyahira almost had an interception during the fourth scrimmage series, but he was not able to hold onto the ball. The pass breakup came on a pass by John Beck downfield.

Matangi Tonga bull rushed from the outside to bat down a pass and Jan Jorgensen recorded a sack on the fourth scrimmage drive. Not to be left out of the defensive action, Romney Fuga also recorded a sack during the series.

Not a single receiver caught a pass against cornerback Justin Robinson during the scrimmage series.

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