Practice Report: Day 8

The Cougars were back at it on Monday as fans gathered to get a firsthand view of the open practice session. The practice was a little sluggish as the team recovers from the scrimmage on Saturday and adjusts to the loss of Russell Tialavea.

"Workman-like, not much emotion, but just another workday," said head coach Bronco Mendenhall, describing the tone of Monday's practice session.

Blue to White

One of the more interesting aspects of Monday's practice was seeing a big new #66 playing nose tackle and getting a lot of work on the day. Former offensive lineman Garrett Reden switched his jersey color from blue to white and will be competing at the nose tackle position as coaches seek to add more depth following Russell Tialavea's injury.

"Coaches told me this morning that they wanted me to switch," said Reden. "I wasn't anticipating it or anything, but I'm all for it. Whatever it takes to help this team and wherever I can help out most is what I want to do. I'm excited to have the chance."

Reden will be evaluated hard this week to see if he has what it takes to play nose tackle. For Coach Mendenhall, the decision to move Reden over was based on several factors.

"We'll take a look at him through Wednesday to see if he can help out on the defensive line," said Mendenhall. "We think he's physical and we think he has a good mindset and we have a window of time now to assess what he can do. Garrett has the mentality of a defensive player anyway. He's aggressive and he's tough and our offensive line in general is becoming like that."

Impressed with Unga

After reviewing the tape of Saturday's scrimmage, Mendenhall and the rest of the coaching staff came away with a positive evaluation of running back Harvey Unga's overall vision and natural running back skills.

"I thought Harvey showed really nice vision," said Mendenhall. "Most of his runs that were significant runs came when the offensive and defensive lines were at a stalemate at the point of attack, but his vision and being able to go outside where the play wasn't designed was really encouraging and taught the defense a good lesson in run-leverage."

Gaskins Throwing

Quarterback Brendan Gaskins' recovery from the injury to his finger is ahead of schedule, as Gaskins threw some short passes during Monday's practice.

"It feels great," said Gaskins regarding his broken middle finger. "I'm ahead of schedule and I should be back throwing all my passes here soon. I'm taking it easy right now, but it really does feel great right now and it's getting better every day."

Injury Update

MRIs taken revealed that defensive lineman Russell Tialavea has torn not only his ACL, but his MCL as well, compounding the recovery time he'll face as he begins the long way back and works to contribute to the team next fall.

Running back J.J. DiLuigi sustained a foot injury and will be out a minimum of eight weeks. It's still yet to be determined if he'll have surgery or not.


Monday saw a somewhat-abbreviated session of 11-on-11 drills to close out the practice. The offense got the ball into the endzone when Max Hall completed a pass to Matt Allen from 15 yards out.

Hall went 1-for-2 for 1 yard during his first set of reps, with a screen pass to wide receiver Austin Collie. Hall's second set went better as he completed all three of his passes for 68 yards, eventually hitting Allen in the endzone for the aforementioned touchdown. The touchdown was set up when Hall hit Collie down the sideline for a 45-yard pass, which followed Hall hitting Collie from 49 yards out during the 7-on-7 drills run just prior to the 11-on-11 drills.

Hall went 2-for-5 for 22 yards during the rest of the practice rotation. That included passes of 10 and 12 yards to receiver Daniel Tervort and tight end Andrew George, respectively. The defensive highlight during 11-on-11s was linebacker Chris Bolden recording a sack.

Newbie Watch

-Wide receiver Ryan Kessman had another consistent practice session, catching multiple passes during 7-on-7s and other drills. Kessman has proven to have great hands and uses his superior strength well in shielding DBs from the ball.

-Wide receiver Jordan Smith served notice today, beating a cornerback for a catch deep downfield during drills.

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