Two Out of Three

Out of the three major full contact scrimmages held at LaVell Edwards Stadium, the defense has now come away winning two. On a day that Coach Mendenhall wanted his team to come out on fire, the defense answered the call.

The offense started out Tuesday's scrimmage a bit slow and a little out of rhythm, and got it handed to them by a defense looking to assert itself over an offense that loves to rub it in.

"I think it was pretty obvious that our offense wasn't on top of our game," said receiver Daniel Tervort. "Coach wanted us to come out here again today to see if we can get a little more enthusiasm and energy, and the defense came out here and hit us in the mouth. I don't think we were ready for what had happened."

"I think you have to first give credit to our defense," said tight end Dennis Pitta. "They came out and played hard and when they come out and play like that it's tough for us to execute the way we want to. We made some mistakes and we can definitely improve on our game and that's what we're going to focus on."

During the beginning of the scrimmage, the offense sputtered time and time again. It wasn't until later on after a few heavy discussions by disappointed and frustrated offensive assistant coaches that the offense began to have some success moving the ball more consistently down field.

"Towards the end of today's scrimmage we started showing some good signs," Tervort said. "It's just too bad, but we all are out here working hard and want to do good. It's just that the defense came out here and won the battle, but it's not over. We have a lot more spring ball left and it's still a work in progress. It's not over by any stretch."

Following a series where the defense seemed to be asserting itself at will in the trenches, Coach Weber took his offensive line unit aside from the rest of the team for a discussion.

"We have a lot of young new guys stepping in and doing their best to compete, but it's tough against this defense," said Tervort. "It would be tough for anyone to just step in against this defense whether you're experienced or not, and right now we have a lot of guys trying to get themselves up to speed to match what the defense is doing."

Pitta agrees with Tervort's assessment.

"When you have a lot of young guys in there trying to learn the system against a tough defense like we have, mistakes are going to happen because you're not familiar with it," said Pitta. "That goes with some of us return missionaries as well. I'm brand new and I make mistakes out there, but I'm learning and correcting at the same time. It's just part of the progress of learning and progression and sometimes those things take some time.

"We have some new but talented quarterbacks in our system, but like I said it's a learning process especially at quarterback. There are a lot of things you gotta know, and with Cade [Cooper] coming in fresh he's trying to adapt and get a feel for the system. Cade is doing a great job and so is Max [Hall]. Max is doing a great job leading the team and using his experience from last year to help out our offense."

There were no end zone celebrations Tuesday, and it was only by the leg of Mitch Payne that any numbers were put up on the scoreboard. Through the physical and fanatical play of Coach Mendenhall's defense, the offense got a good look at how much work still needs to be accomplished. This necessarily isn't a bad thing to learn, especially early on.

"We felt like we were progressing," said Tervort. "Today really helped us to understand how much work we still have ahead of us, but this is a good thing for us as an offense because now we understand what we need to do to further improve. I think both sides made some adjustments going into this scrimmage, and the defense was prepared for some of the things we were throwing at them. I think their adjustments helped them today and I think we didn't do our jobs as well as we could have."

"It's a competitive game," Pitta said. "When you have someone pushing you, you want to push back harder to play better. It's great that we're being pushed so hard. This way we can compete at a higher level."

The competitive offensive and defensive jostling that has helped both units improve throughout spring reared its head early on. On a smaller level, the pushing of one another towards self-improvement has even filtered down throughout various positions on the field.

"That's definitely right," said Pitta. "You always want to be the best at your position, and having talented guys on your team helps push you to want to be better and better. It pushes you and it's part of the competitive nature of the game that further helps you to develop your abilities."

For Tuesday's competitive outing, Coach Mendenhall wanted his Cougar team to come out and play physical. The defense did just that by keeping the offense from moving the ball for the most part, while sacking, pressuring and hurrying the quarterbacks from all angles.

"Coach gave us a challenge," said Tervort. "He said wanted us to come out and play more physical. The bottom line is the defense came out more physical. They came out and were getting through and making sacks. They were doing things that we can't have happen on our offense. We just have to play harder and do things to help out our quarterbacks. We obviously have to make some more adjustments before the next scrimmage, and figure out the kinks and tighten up some loose ends."

"I think we now have something to prove," said Pitta. "I think we'll take a look at today's results and make some adjustments and come out and play harder and better next time."

Despite Tuesday's overall offensive outing, walk-on receiver Daniel Tervort made several impressive catches, one of which was in double coverage.

"I feel like I'm improving and I'm thankful for the opportunity," Tervort said. "I'm grateful where I'm at and having the privilege of getting some reps. Our coaches demand perfection and that's what I want to give them. I'm not quite there yet and feel there are some things I need to work on to reach their expectations. I think I still need to work on some blocking things while keep trying to continually get open. I feel like I'm doing alright but I'm never satisfied as well."

Much like Tervort demands perfection from himself, Pitta has the same mentality.

"I felt like I did alright," Pitta said. "I made some plays out there but I also made some mistakes. I gotta eliminate those mistakes and personally play better out there."

From a defensive standpoint, sophomore inside linebacker Terrance Hooks faired well on the day, and helped contribute to the overall success of the defense when he was out on the field.

Now you can listen to Hooks talk about the defenses overall performance and successes from today's scrimmage.

Total Blue Sports Top Stories