Since he's become head coach, Mendenhall has worked hard to get former players back to support the team during a spring scrimmage. The first year only about 100 former players showed up, while Friday's scrimmage saw that number approach 1,000, which he was certainly pleased with.
"I don't think this many people would be coming back if we weren't winning," said Mendenhall. "I think they want to come back and support what is happening and I think our players like that. It makes them feel good."
The first set began and ended with a halfback pass thrown by Harvey Unga to O'Neill Chambers for a 75-yard touchdown. Riley Nelson got the first set going against the ones on defense.
Jake Heaps got the next set of reps going against the ones on defense and went 2-of-4 for 26 yards. A fumbled exchange of the snap, coupled with a sack by Thomas Bryson, contributed to the short set. Passes were completed to Rhen Brown and Cody Hoffman for 22 and 4 yards, respectively.
Nelson got in again on the third set and went against the twos on defense. After a fumbled snap and a 5-yard run by Unga, Nelson completed a 65-yard touchdown pass to McKay Jacobson.
Heaps then got another shot against the ones on defense and completed his lone attempt to Chambers for 4 yards. An illegal procedure call put the offense back, and J.J. Di Luigi running the ball twice for 9 yards.
Nelson then got to work against the twos on defense and promptly completed a 60-yard touchdown pass to Di Luigi.
Heaps then got another shot against the ones on defense and moved the ball well, completing 3-of-5 passes for 49 yards, although the team came up just short of the end zone. Passes were completed to Luke Ashworth, Bryan Kariya and Devin Mahina on the drive.
A holding penalty on Braden Brown, along with another sack by Bryson, contributed to the defense holding the offense short of the end zone. The biggest hit of the scrimmage was made when both Corby Eason and Travis Uale upended Ashworth on a would-be reception.
Nelson then got another shot against the twos on defense and 1-of-2 for 6 yards. His completion was to Joshua Quezada. A fumbled exchange of the snap contributed to the three-and-out.
James Lark then got in and completed his lone pass attempt to Mike Muehlmann for a 30-yard gain. Quezada had the best run of the day during the set, scampering outside for 17 yards. Vic So'oto stood strong, recording a sack and a tackle for a loss.
Mendenhall and the staff will further evaluate the film of Friday's scrimmage, as they were admittedly a bit distracted by all those in attendance. According to Mendenhall, the enthusiasm and support for the team as demonstrated by all those in attendance was the big story of the practice session.