Spring Practice Report: Day 13

Practices are drawing to a close as the team looks to get in as much work as possible leading up the Blue-White Game, which will be played this Saturday. Today's practice took place in unseasonably cold weather as the team primarily practiced bluezone execution.

Through the cold and howling wind, Cade Cooper got all of his reps with the 1s during 11-on-11 non-contact drills while Max Hall got all of his work done with the 2s

"It was really cold out here today," said quarterback Cade Cooper. "It was really windy too, which I think may have affected us a bit."

Sets

– Cooper's first series of reps ended as soon as it started as his first pass attempt was picked off by linebacker Grant Nelson

– Hall didn't fare much better on his first try going 1-for-2 for just 7 yards on a pass to Wayne Latu

– Cooper got the team into the end zone on his second stint going 2-for-3 for 20 yards. The touchdown came as he hit tight end Dennis Pitta up the seam on third down from 17 yards out

– Hall then had an abbreviated stint going just 1-for-2 for 6 yards while also running for about 5 yards as he was flushed out of the pocket

– Cooper then went 0-2 on his next stint and was sacked by linebacker Chris Bolden to end the set

– Cooper then saw the field again but a sack by lineman Brett Denney rudely ended what was a promising drive. Cooper went 2-for-2 during the set for 20 yards while also scrambling for a 10-yard gain. His two passes were to Pitta and Michael Reed for 10 yards apiece.

– Hall then had his best set of the day going 5-for-6 for 63 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown came on a 13-yard pass to David Kozlowski. Highlights included consecutive passes to Daniel Tervort for 11 and 24 yards respectively. Andre Saulsberry had the lone defensive highlight knocking down an attempted pass to Kozlowski as he closed effectively on the route

– Cooper then put the offense into the end zone again as he went 3-for-4 for 27 yards. The touchdown came on a 1-yard pass to Austin Collie. Ian Dulan recorded a sack on the very first play, but Cooper was able to get over it completing a 19-yard pass to Andrew George on third and long

– Hall saw that last series of reps and went 2-for-4 for 14 yards and an interception. The interception came courtesy of cornerback Scott Johnson who picked Hall off in the back of the endzone

Pitta Progressing

Once again, it should be apparent that tight end Dennis Pitta completed a successful practice session. This has very much become the norm this spring as Pitta is moving up the depth chart and making a big impact on the Cougar offense with every practice.

"I'm happy with how I've done so far, but I know I can get a lot better," said Pitta. "I've struggled at times getting my legs underneath me, but I feel like I've come a long way this spring, and I'm happy with where I'm at so far."

Pitta didn't just jump into spring practices head first after his recently completed LDS mission. He's been working out with the team since late November, which has been a big advantage. Pitta took that advantage head on in the off-season and has continued progressing well this spring.

"I'm glad I had the chance to work out with the team prior to spring," said Pitta. "It's difficult enough coming back, and not having the opportunity to work out before the spring would have been extremely difficult."

Quarterbacks have taken serious notice of Pitta's play because when they look to the direction of #32, they can more times than not find him running open down the field.

"I've gotten a lot better at runner crisper and more precise routes," said Pitta. "I'm seeing the field a lot better. The first week, it was hard getting that vision back, but now I'm reading defenses a lot better, and I'm able to get open."

Pitta of course saw success before leaving for his mission when he starred in Gary Crowton's offense. Now that he's back, Pitta is happy with the progression of the offensive changes that were brought in by new offensive coordinator Robert Anae.

"In this offense you're almost always the first or second option at tight end while before, we were usually the third or fourth option," said Pitta. "So we're always wanting to get open since we know the quarterbacks will be looking for us more. In this offense it's demanding. You have to be physical with your blocking and precise at running your routes. There is a real emphasis being the master of your position, and that's all of our focus."


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