Spring Practice Report: Day Seven

Thursday's practice session saw its share of standout plays from both the offensive and defensive units. Fronting the offense was a relatively new offensive line that has continued its progression with some new faces and not-so-new faces that have been waiting in the wings for their turn.

"We're doing well," said Nick Alletto. "We know that we have to fill in for a lot of experience, but we feel that we're doing well. Guys are comfortable with each other and we just need to continue."

Alletto has seen every single one of his reps so far this spring thus far with the first-team offense, and his simple-yet-difficult goal is to stay there through the year.

"We all want to start, obviously," aid Alletto. "Right now I'm getting a lot of good opportunities with the ones and it's my goal to keep the coaches' confidence and to stay there."

Good Returns

Once again the first-team offense managed to get the ball into the end zone, this time on a 5-yard pass from Max Hall to O'Neill Chambers. On the play the cornerback had almost perfect coverage, but Hall was able to throw the pass in a perfect spot and Chambers made a fingertip grab across the middle. Chambers then finished off his score by dunking the football over the goalpost.

Chambers also contributed another touchdown reception, catching the ball while running a deep post pattern. Both Luke Ashworth and Andrew George contributed their own long receptions as well.

The play of the day came by way of Malosi Te'o, however, as he took a simple flare pass 60 yards while outrunning the entire second-team defense on the way to the end zone. On that play and others, Te'o showed signs of shaking off his mission legs more and more.

"From the moment he came on campus and through the offseason training we knew that he could run and that he was a hard worker," said head coach Bronco Mendenhall about Malosi Te'o. "Right now he's just learning the offense, so that's the only thing holding him back now. He broke a nice screen play today and you can see how he can run."

The defense was not without its moments as well, as Shiloah Te'o and Andrew Rich each recorded an interception. Rich's interception came courtesy of Steven Thomas, who knocked away a long pass in coverage, allowing Rich to get the turnover.

Mendenhall said he intends on giving Thomas the bulk of repetitions at boundary corner, which will allow the coaches to cross-train Brandon Bradley at field corner until they get more bodies at the field corner position this coming fall.

Weight Gains

Of course it was the offensive line that generated a lot of the offensive success, but as is more times than not, they didn't receive enough of the credit for any success the offense has during any game or practice session. Alletto was there at his spot playing right tackle, but this year Alletto is presenting a bit of a more imposing force that defensive fronts will have to reckon with.

"I gained thirty pounds in the offseason," informed Alletto. "I put on some good weight in my upper body and it's really helping me run-block better. I feel stronger obviously and it's something that both me and the coaches thought I needed to do. So yeah, I'm a lot stronger than I've every been."

Fresh Off of the Mission

While most would assume that it may take some time for Braden Hansen to compete with Nick Alletto at the right tackle spot, Hansen isn't one of those people. Hansen, who is just 12 weeks removed from his mission, feels better athletically than he did at any time during his freshman year before his mission.

"I feel great," said Hansen. "I know that most guys struggle playing coming off their missions, but I don't feel that I am. I honestly feel better out there right now than I ever have."

Hansen admittedly didn't know how he'd adjust, but after 12 weeks he knows he's stronger than he's ever been and feels more comfortable within the system than he ever has.

"We just tested on weights and I really surprised myself to be honest with you," said Hansen. "I tested better than I have at any time in my life. I've worked very hard and so far it's paying off."

Hansen is quick to credit his offensive line coach Mark Weber for much of the initial success he's enjoyed.

"I didn't know how I'd like [Weber], but he's great" said Hansen, who was coached by Jeff Grimes prior to his mission. "He's a bit more laid back than Grimes and he's a real player's coach. I really, really like Coach Weber already and I couldn't imagine playing for a better coach. I really liked Coach Grimes too and I miss him, but I really like having Coach Weber as my position coach."

Right now Hansen is cutting his teeth at playing the left tackle position with the second unit, but has his eyes focused sharply at competing with Alletto for the starting right tackle spot this coming season.

"I want to start, that's my goal," said Hansen. "Nick is obviously doing a great job right now, but yeah, it's my goal to beat him out. I want to play - we all do - and that's what makes us better as a unit. We're competing and we're pushing each other."

Thoughts on Thursday

Coach Mendenhall mentioned following practice that he's grateful that the team has no Thursday-night game scheduled for next season.

"Anytime we don't play on a Thursday it's a positive," said Mendenhall. "It changes the players' schedule, it puts a real strain on their class work, it puts a real strain on the coaches and our preparation. Based on injuries that you may have, it doesn't allow you do heal quite as much."

Mendenhall went on to mention that the true test of which team is better comes with playing on Saturday and that the conference is far better off not playing any Thursday games.

Recruit Roll Call

The recruits present at practice included Granger's Manu Mulitalo and Hawaii prep star Graham Rowley. Mulitalo is the cousin of Ryan Mulitalo, who signed with BYU this year and is a 6-foot-3-inch, 310-pound offensive line recruit. Rowley is a 6-foot-4-inch, 270-pound defensive end recruit that has received an offer from BYU.


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