Fall Practice Report: Day 9

The team practiced in shells as they move closer to the second scrimmage of fall, which is usually when the final two-deep roster really starts to solidify. The quarterback battle continued to heat up in what is obviously the main story of fall practice.

Initial Observations

-While Mike Muehlmann and Devin Mahina are still the two main guys in the tight end battle, they really haven't separated themselves from the pack since spring. Richard Wilson has started to come on strong here and could really make some strides this week during practices.

-I've been watching Drew Phillips closely and yeah, he looks as fast as advertised with some very good agility. We'll see here soon if he can get in some reps during team drills.

-Cody Hoffman has quietly had a productive fall camp session. He's one of the only receivers who hasn't dropped numerous passes and he seems to always make plays most practice sessions.

-What they ultimately do with the wideouts this year will be interesting. The guys that will definitely be in the rotation are McKay Jacobson, Luke Ashworth and O'Neill Chambers at this point, with Spencer Hafoka and his experience likely to take a slot.

The guys that are nipping at their heels are Hoffman and Ross Apo. Apo appeared as if he'd break out in an Austin Collie-like way, but has been quiet since the scrimmage this past Saturday. Hoffman meanwhile has remained consistent, which will be key for him as he attempts to break the regular rotation.

-Eathyn Manumaleuna is still getting the majority of reps at defensive end, even after Matt Putnam returned to practice late last week. Putnam has been a mainstay with the twos so far.

-DeQuan Everett hasn't had the impact a lot were forecasting so far during practice sessions. Both Robbie Buckner and Corby Eason are clearly ahead of him, and don't be surprised if Everett gets switched to safety here soon.

-Jordan Johnson seems to have settled in a lot since the first week of practices when he was lost during most reps. Now that he's more comfortable, he looks to have the goods to really contribute to the defensive backfield in the coming years.

Two-minute offense drills

-Jake Heaps got the first look with the ones on offense going against the ones on defense. Heaps completed his first pass for a short gain, but then threw three straight incompletions as the defense held strong.

-Defensive highlights included Brian Logan running stride for stride with Spencer Hafoka to knock down a long pass attempt, and Brandon Bradley showing very tight coverage on Cody Hoffman during third down to knock the ball away.

-Riley Nelson then got the next set with the twos on offense going against the twos on defense. After consecutive completions to Marcus Mathews for a combined 40 yards, Nelson threw an interception to Jray Galea'i that ended the set as the offense approached the end zone.

-Nelson got the next set, which had the ones on offense going against the threes on defense. He finished the set going 3-of-8 for 55 yards.

-On third down, Nelson completed a pass to a streaking Joshua Quezada for a 45-yard gain. After a couple of incompletions, Nelson then hit Bryan Kariya for 5 yards and then hit Hoffman in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown pass.

-Heaps got the final set of reps, which saw the ones going against the ones. He finished going 2-of-3 for 12 yards with passes completed to Mike Hague and Chambers.

-The defense recorded three consecutive sacks during the set to end it. Sacks were recorded twice by Manumaleuna and once by Kyle Van Noy.

-Phillips got carted off the practice field with an apparent knee injury. X-rays indicated a quad contusion, which shouldn't force him to miss any significant time.

Final Team Drills

-Heaps got the first set of reps with the ones on offense going against the ones on defense. He finished the set completing just 1-of-4 passes, with two of the passes being dropped by tight end Devin Mahina.

-Dropped balls are starting to become an epidemic with the tight end position, which caused Coach Mendenhall to mention other guys will be tried out at tight end with the ones until someone proves they can be trusted. So far in, Mahina has not impressed after having a promising spring practice session.

-Riley Nelson got the next set of reps with the twos going against the twos. He was able to drive the team with relative success on 3-of-4 passing for 23 yards before being held just shy of the end zone.

-Nelson completed passes to Spencer Hafoka, Richard Wilson and Algernon Brown. Defensive highlights included Alani Fua throwing Mike Hague for a 3-yard loss and Zeke Mendenhall catching Brown behind the line of scrimmage to force his reception to go for negative yardage.

-Nelson got the last set of reps with the ones on offense going against the threes on defense until reaching the blue zone, at which point the ones on defense took the field. He went 4-of-5 for 25 yards. The best play, when he hit Cody Hoffman for a pass across the middle which Hoffman took all the way to the end zone from about 50 yards out, was nullified by a personal foul.

-Nelson hit J.J. Di Luigi for a touchdown from 9 yards out to end the set. The defensive highlight came with Kyle Van Noy busting up a wide receiver screen thrown to Luke Ashworth that went for just one yard.

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