Fall Practice Report: Day Two

As one would expect, the overall execution on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football tightened up Monday according to head coach Bronco Mendenhall. Leading the way for the defensive execution was Mike linebacker Matt Bauman, who worked hard this offseason to finish out strong as a senior.

Imagine being a fifth-year senior having gone through all the rigors of spring ball and the offseason workouts only to miss the first day of fall camp. Such was the case for Matt Bauman, who missed Saturday's opening practice session due to his brother's wedding.

"It was brutal," said Bauman about missing the first day of practice. "I was dying. You work all summer only to miss that first [practice]. Yeah, it was brutal for sure."

Bauman was a glaring omission from the practice field on Saturday, as he's expected to lead the charge as a primary playmaker from his starting Mike linebacker position. If Monday's practice was any indication, Bauman is well on his way.

"I feel great," he said. "I'm a lot lighter this year and I think that's really going to help me. Most of the offenses in our conference are spread offenses, so I've concentrated this offseason on getting lighter and quicker and I feel great out there."

Bauman and his cohorts weren't satisfied with the status quo after last season and made strides this offseason to improve their overall play. Last season it was intimated that the players weren't preparing or studying enough on their own, and were merely limiting their game preparation to practice coaches' meetings.

This season Bauman and his linebackers have taken steps to change that and met frequently throughout the summer.

"We did a ton of mental prep during the offseason," explained Bauman. "We had player practices and meetings all summer long where we'd go over film. We'd go over our assignments all summer long so we'd be as ready to go out here as we possibly could be."

The team met occasionally last summer according to Bauman, but not nearly as often. After last season he and his teammates took it upon themselves to change that. Bauman took the lead and was more times than not the player calling teammates and in turn leading all of the linebacker meetings during the offseason.

"You really learn through teaching," he related. "You have the responsibility when you're leading the study groups to know all the gap assignments and coverages better than anyone, so I really had to concentrate and make sure I knew what I was teaching, so that really helped."

Bauman relied on his fellow senior teammates at the inside linebacker position throughout the summer and is grateful for their help.

"We know each other so well," he said. "We know what each other is thinking so that we often call out the same thing at the same time since we both know it so well. Sometimes we can even both say another play or coverage that isn't what we‘re going to run since we both know what‘s coming so well. That's how high the trust level is for us."

According to Bauman, the theme for the linebacker corps this season is controlled violence.

"We're having a blast," he expressed. "It feels like high school football out there. Guys are really getting along and it's a lot of fun."

Practice Notes

-Monday's cornerback reps saw Brandon Bradley starting at boundary corner with Robbie Buckner seeing every rep with the ones at field corner. Brian Logan saw all the reps at field corner with the twos, while Lee Aguirre saw the reps at boundary. Corby Eason was with the threes at field with Steven Thomas at the boundary position.

-Bradley scored several impressive pass knockdowns, while Corby Eason came through again with a knockdown of his own, closing nicely on a hook route run by McKay Jacobson.

-Other defensive highlights included Scott Johnson blocking a punt and providing a knockdown of a pass intended for Andrew George. Coleby Clawson strung out several runs for no gain and Jray Galea'i recorded a knockdown of a pass while playing with the third-team defense. Jan Jorgensen recorded a sack.

-Andrew Rich was practicing Monday, which led Shiloah Te'o to play with the second-team defense with Travis Uale. Craig Bills and Galea'i were with the threes.

-McKay Jacobson scored a touchdown from 18 yards out during skeleton drills. It was followed up by Spencer Hafoka hauling in a touchdown pass from 20 yards out and Dennis Pitta scoring from 13 yards out.

-Jacobson caught the long pass of the day, stretching out the defense and hauling in a 36-yarder from Max Hall.

-Jordan Atkinson has switched to outside linebacker, which is his natural position according to Coach Mendenhall. Atkinson's move was to fill in for Vic So'oto, who switched over to defensive end. Atkinson saw all his reps with the second-team defense during Monday's practice.

-Inside linebacker Terrance Hooks pulled his hamstring during practice, but it isn't believed to be serious.

-Braden Hansen saw a lot of work with the first-team offense, rotating series reps with Nick Alletto.

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