Towards the later part of todays "thud" scrimmage Coach Mendenhall and his staff spent a good portion of time allowing the offense to operate within the 20-yard line. He backed up his defense to play the short end of the field and expected his defensive unit to hold tight.
"I though we did well," said quarterback Cade Cooper. "There were times when we struggled a little, but we worked through it, and the wind did play a big factor. I don't mind the snow, but when the wind picks up it's a tougher throw."
There were some defensive successes such as cornerback Scott Johnson's interception in the end zone, but overall, the offense had a very productive blue zone day.
"Our goal today was to basically get started fast," said Cooper. "To get it going quickly with the blue zone, two minute, overtime and our goal was execute those situations effectively and to do it to perfection."
"You know me and Tyler Kozlowski kind of had a miscommunication today and the defense was able to come down with it," said Max Hall. "You know what, those things happen, and it's unfortunate, but this is what happens when you get down in the blue zone.
"This is why we practice these things a lot so we can work out those miscommunications before game time because whenever we get into the blue zone we want to score. We want to be perfect and be able to run all aspects of our offense to perfection, and the only way to do that is to practice those situations. It's good for us because it basically gives us a chance to work with every situation. I think we did very well today, really well."
The Cougar coaching staff wanted to challenge the offense in these scenarios by allowing the team to play hard but not raise the contact to a level of a full padded scrimmage.
"We want to try and run this offense as effective as we can in these situations under as real of conditions as we can," said Cooper. "This way, we can try to perfect what we're trying to do under similar conditions we'll face during games."
When an offense reaches the blue zone, the limited space forces the offense to adjust. Receivers have to get out into their routes quicker and quick reading quarterbacks have to adjust their timing.
"It absolutely changes things up a bit," said Hall. "One thing you can't do in the blue zone is turn the ball over and you can't have a sack, so our timing has to be exact. We have to know the timing on our routes and the receivers have to know that when you get into the blue zone they have to change up their routes. It absolutely changes things up a little bit and you have be able to get the ball out a little quicker so we don't have any sacks or turnovers."
"In the blue zone things happen a little faster," Cooper said. "Things get a little more boxed in you can say, and so we're trying to develop through repetition making reads quicker."
The offense also got the running game involved in today's blue zone drills. Harvey Unga scored the only touchdown from the running back position, but Wayne Latu probably would have scored as well if the quick whistle of defensive coaches hadn't blown.
"Obviously we would like to throw the ball when we get down there," chuckled Cooper. "We want to make sure we have all aspects of our offense running to perfection when we get down there to punch it in."