Practice Report: Day 4

Wednesday's practice saw sharper and cleaner execution as the team prepared for its first game against Arizona. Improvement and cleaning up the execution is something any successful team needs to work on every day leading up to the season, and it was something that was readily apparent during Wednesday's practice session.

"It was a beautiful thing to see," said linebacker Bryan Kehl regarding the team's overall execution during Wednesday's practice session. "Things are starting to come together. Only 24 days left until our first game and those Arizona Wildcats better watch out."

"We were a lot more sharp today," said quarterback Max Hall. "Things are becoming a lot cleaner on the offensive side. I know that I'm feeling more comfortable and I think that today was definitely our best day as far as execution goes."

First Set

The first set saw the 1s on offense go against the 1s on defense. Max Hall went 9-for-10 during the set for roughly 64 yards before the defense held the offense just shy of the endzone.

"We came out sharp," said Hall. "The routes were crisp, [and] the offensive line was doing great not only in their pass-blocking, but in opening up holes. We didn't get it into the endzone, which is obviously disappointing, but we made plays and came out strong."

Hall completed three passes to Austin Collie during the set for 23 yards, two passes to tight end Dennis Pitta for 22 yards, and two passes to Manase Tonga for 12 yards.

Second Set

James Lark took the field with the 2s on offense and went against the 3s on defense. The defense held the offense to a three-and-out, in which Lark went 1-3 for 9 yards on a pass to true freshman J.J. DiLuigi.

Third Set

Max Hall went 2-for-3 for 23 yards during the third set, completing an 18-yard pass to Dennis Pitta and a 5-yard pass to Manase Tonga. Defensive lineman Jan Jorgensen helped to cut the set short by meeting Fui Vakapuna in the backfield, which led to the play being whistled dead.

"The tight ends got more involved today, especially Dennis," said Hall. "The more I can get our tight ends involved, the better the offense will be this year. All three of those guys, whether it be Dennis, Vic [So'oto] or Andrew George… are going to help us a lot."

Fourth Set

The defense saw more success during the fourth set as Hall went 2-for-5 for 21 yards on passes to Matt Allen and Harvey Unga. Brett Denney knocked down a pass intended for Austin Collie at the line of scrimmage.

"We were able to function properly and keep everything in front of us," said Kehl. "We ran to the ball well and got it done at times."

Fifth Set

Jason Munns took the field for the fifth set and was greeted rudely by successive sacks, the first by Matt Putnam, and the second by David Angilau and Eathyn Manumaleuna. Munns's only pass, which was intended for Landon Jaussi, was knocked down by cornerback G Pittman.

Sixth Set

Max Hall then led the team to a touchdown on the final set of the day, hitting Dennis Pitta in the endzone for a score from 20 yards out. Hall went 7-for-8 on the drive, which included two passes to Vakapuna and two passes to Allen.

"It's definitely coming together," said Hall. "It was our second time through running those plays, so we improved there with the repetition. Matt Allen helped out a ton with the routes and the plays he made out there and everybody was executing at a high level today. We just need to make sure we don't rest on this and [that we] get even better tomorrow."

The touchdown came on a play-action pass in which the linebackers bit on the run fake, leaving Pitta wide open for the touchdown.

"It was one of those passes where I just couldn't wait for it to come down and for Dennis to catch it. We sold the run very well, which is a credit to the o-line and how they run-blocked the entire practice. We got them on that one and it's nice to finish out practice with a touchdown."

Listen to Bryan Kehl and Kelly Poppinga talk about today's practice:

Newbie Watch

-Freshman linebacker Tyler Beck had a pass deflection in coverage, cutting short a set of reps. Beck is seeing a lot of time playing inside linebacker with the 3s on defense.

-J.J. DiLuigi got more involved during 11-on-11s, catching the aforementioned pass and running the ball for the first time for a 6-yard gain.

-Linemen David Angilau and Eathyn Manumaleuna are both getting a lot of work in with the 2s and mainly the 3s on defense, as both look to make immediate impacts this coming year.

"We're all getting better," said J.J. DiLuigi about himself and his true freshmen counterparts. "I know I had a goal to contribute right away and nothing so far has made me think I couldn't. We're all progressing really well I think, and we just need to continue to learn and improve every day. If we don't, we'll fall back and probably won't catch up to where we need to be. So it's important that we're getting better every day."

Practice Notes

-Punter C.J. Santiago was cleared and punted today with the team as they went through special teams drills.

-Jordan Smith has also been cleared and dressed with no pads as he went through light drills for the first time.

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