Spring Practice Report: Day Ten

The coaches had the team go light on Thursday with no pads and an abbreviated practice session as they licked some wounds while spending some more time in meetings and watching film. While it's been Jake Heaps that has been leading most of the touchdown drives during the spring, Thursday's session saw Riley Nelson put together the lone touchdown drive of the day.

"We want tomorrow's practice to be the heaviest of the spring," explained head coach Bronco Mendenhall on why they went light on Thursday. "We want to polish some things up, not install anything new, get our assignments down and spend a little more time in the meeting room. Hopefully we'll go a little longer tomorrow and make a better assessment."

The team did do a non-contact 11-on-11 two-minute drill to end practice, with Jake Heaps getting the first shot against the first-team defense. He went 5-of-9 for 50 yards with passes completed to O'Neill Chambers, Spencer Hafoka on a key third-down conversion, Luke Ashworth on a key fourth-down conversion and Marcus Mathews on yet another third-down play. The offense got within field goal range, but the offensive coaches opted to go for the first down, and the defense held.

Riley Nelson, who went against the second-team defense, went 4-of-7 for 50 yards, which included a 16-yard touchdown pass to Devin Mahina. The drive saw him also complete passes to Mike Muehlmann, B.J. Peterson and Matt Marshall. Marshall meanwhile made the catch of spring. Without breaking stride, he made a one-handed grab of a pass that was thrown behind him, which drew some praise from the offensive sideline.

According to Mendenhall, the team practiced two-minute drills largely because the lack of pads dictated they go with a pass-happy regimen. They managed the drill as if it were a real game, with coaches making the appropriate signals from the sidelines for the first time this spring.

The defense recorded a bunch of sacks, with Thomas Bryson, Connell Hess and Garrett Eskelsen accounting for three of them. Outside linebacker Jameson Frazier picked off his third pass in three days from his strong side position.

"Jameson Frazier is one of the brightest spots of the spring," said Mendenhall. "He's been making play after play and is really doing a nice job in the absence of Jordan Pendleton. So what we've found this spring is that we know we have Jordan there, but that we have some depth at the position. Maybe [Frazier] could even play the Will spot as well, so that's been a real positive."

Kyle Van Noy returned to the practice field Thursday and got reps with the second-team defense, as he's been fully reinstated to the program after serving his brief penalty. Shane Hunter also got the most work he has so far this spring, getting reps with the first-team defense. Matt Putnam was out with a concussion, which doesn't appear to be serious, although coaches monitor each concussion fully.

Observers of Thursday's practice included former Cougars Cameron Jensen and Chris Hoke, as well as signee Bronson Kaufusi.

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