Practice Report: Defensive Unit Steps Back

Out on the practice field the offense enjoyed some success over the defense. It may only have been the third day of fall camp, when the defense is often on par with the offense in the tug of war for practice dominance, but there is a good reason why the defense didn't put up as much resistance Wednesday.

Usually when the offense seems to dominate the defense or vice versa, it's because the victorious unit installed a new aspect of their game the other side wasn't prepared for. On Wednesday, there were two factors that gave the defense less of an advantage against the offensive unit.

First, the offense did install a few more things that were difficult for the defense to stop. Usually the defense, as well as the offense, has a pretty good idea on what the other is trying to do after having practiced against each other. The offense threw in some new wrinkles Wednesday, and those wrinkles even caught the offensive guys off guard a bit as well.

"I think we might have caught them a bit but we had a few mistakes today as well," said quarterback Max Hall. "We had some missed assignments and guys jumping offsides and things like that. On a positive side, it was kind of good for us because it forced us to work ourselves out of a bad situation. We had to struggle to really get out of those bad situations that we put ourselves into and we did that a couple of times, so there were a few different wrinkles we threw in there today but overall our offense doesn't change too much."

"Yeah, they've put in some new things," said outside linebacker Coleby Clawson. "They're always trying to throw new things at us and you've probably seen some of those things that they've been doing out there. The offense has been changing some things up and trying to throw us off. I know they're also struggling a little bit with it as well. But they'll get it down and be polished up with those things, but they're always inserting new things much like us."

The second disadvantage the defense faced Wednesday during the scrimmage was the fact that the defense used the day as a review day rather than moving forward with newly installed components. It's difficult enough trying to keep Max Hall and the Cougar offense in check as it is, but when a wrench is thrown into the works things can get interesting.

"There is always a ton of stuff to learn even throughout the season," said Clawson. "I think the player-run practices we did during the summer really put us a step ahead coming into fall camp, but I also think it may have decreased the learning curve for us where we could come in and hit the ground running. Today we wanted to kind of go back and focus on all the things we had learned previously so we can all be better at those things before we move ahead.

"Today was kind of a review day for us. We didn't put anything new in today and just kind of reviewed what we've put in so far for fall camp. I think it was especially good for the younger guys to kind of scale back and review some things so they're not so overwhelmed learning all these new defensive schemes. The older guys kind of know what's going on for the most part and are stepping up and helping the younger guys out, but in the bigger picture of things we are ahead of where we were at this point in time last year on the defensive side."

This fall camp is only the second camp that Jordan Pendleton has been involved with as an outside linebacker. Pendleton had a good day of practice Wenesday under the given circumstances and requirements.

"Today we didn't really put in any new coverages," Pendleton said. "We used today as a review day, so it kind of gave us an opportunity to go back and polish up what we've already learned and put in. Today was pretty much the same as any other day of practice, but it was more focused on going back over what we've already put into the defense."

The Cougar coaches did change up one aspect of Wednesday's practice, and that was the situational aspect the units were placed in. On top of not advancing the defense in terms of scheme and facing an offense that was tweaking things up a bit, the defense was placed in a rather difficult position during situational drills.

"The offense had 56 seconds left on the clock with three timeouts, and so they're pretty much trying to move down the field and score and we were trying to get a stop," said Pendleton.

"We try to get some situational stuff in all the time but today was different," he continued. "I thought given how things were, the defense rose up and played very well despite [the challenge we faced]. We were able to get some stops despite being placed in that situation."

With a better grasp of past installations, Thursday should be a different story with a different Cougar defense. Not only will the Cougar defenders continue to move forward and develop new aspects of their defense, but they'll do so having polished up on a solid foundation.

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