Final Scrimmage Report

The team held its last scrimmage of the fall camp session at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday, with a lot of established players sitting it out. The two-deep roster and who will end up playing will largely be determined by Saturday's performances, but head coach Bronco Mendenhall did not tip his hand in regards to who those players may be.

First Set

Jake Heaps got the first set of reps with the ones on offense going against the ones on defense. He finished with 3-of-3 passing for a combined 28 yards, which included two short passes and a long 23-yard completion to Richard Wilson.

Mitch Payne booted through a 46-yard field goal to end the set, which also included two runs for 5 yards by Joshua Quezada.

"The defense came out strong today, I felt," commented cornerback Brandon Bradley. "We had a lot of energy and we were able to hold the offense out of the end zone except for a couple of drives."

Second Set

Riley Nelson donned a blue jersey, which indicated that the defense could hit him as much as any other player. He completed all three of his passes during his first set for 18 yards, but the set was held short due to a holding penalty.

His passes were completed to Marcus Mathews for 7 yards, Devin Mahina for 6 yards and Spencer Hafoka for 5 yards.

"Oh man, I loved seeing Riley out there in a blue jersey, you have no idea," commented Vic So'oto. "If I had it my way, all the quarterbacks would be wearing blue jerseys every practice. It's just something to be able to hit a quarterback. We love hitting quarterbacks."

So did So'oto get a good hit on Nelson? "No, he's so quick that he dodged me, which really made me mad, but he got stuck by Austen Jorgensen, so I know he was pumped up about that. We love Riley and how he wanted to go live. We respect that and even though we want to hit him hard, we don't want to hurt him or anything."

Third Set

The third set saw Nelson take the field again with the ones on offense going against the ones on defense. He completed just one of four passes, an 11-yard pass to O'Neill Chambers.

-Nelson ran the ball twice for 14 yards. Defensive highlights were Vic So'oto jumping up high to knock down a pass that was almost picked off, and Jray Galea'i closing on a pass and laying a hit that dislodged the would-be completion on third down.

"We had Travis [Uale] and Jray (Galea'i) playing with us the entire time because they held out Andrew Rich and Steven Thomas, and I felt that they both did great," commented Bradley. "They were in right spots and getting us to the right spots, which is the most important thing the safeties do, but they were also making plays."

Fourth Set

Heaps got the next set with the twos going against the twos and was held to a three-and-out, which was largely due to a big and effective pass rush on both of the attempted passing plays. On only one of those plays did he get a pass off, and it fell incomplete. The set ended with Thomas Bryson and Matt Putnam combining for a sack.

"Our front line was lively today and we did well," said So'oto. "I think Riley being out there live helped pump us up a bit, but overall, we did a real good job I felt."

Fifth Set

Heaps then got in again with the ones going against the ones and went 1-of-2 for 1 yard on a pass completion to Ross Apo. The drive ended when Joshua Quezada dropped a long pass that would have gone for big yardage.

Sixth Set

Nelson then engineered what was the best drive of the day for the offense, leading the twos against the twos on defense. Nelson went 5-of-6 for 39 yards and ended the drive by finding Wilson breaking free in the end zone from 6 yards out.

"I'm feeling comfortable out there more and more with every practice," said Nelson. "Having the blue jersey on and going live is something I've pushed for and I think it helped me out there. I like to make plays and I feel that it holds me back in doing that when I have a green jersey on."

Seventh Set

Heaps then got in with the ones on offense going against the twos on defense on a set that was effectively ended by a big holding penalty. Heaps went 3-of-4 during the set for 17 yards, hitting Quezada for 5 yards, Apo for 4 yards and B.J. Peterson for 8 yards. He missed a wide open Marcus Mathews on third down on a play that would have easily gone for first-down yardage.

Eighth Set

James Lark then got his first work of the day with the threes going against the threes, and went 4-of-4 for 72 yards. That included a 9-yard touchdown pass to Mathews. The best play of the set, which saw Apo take the ball to the end zone from 35 yards out, was nullified due to a holding penalty.

Ninth Set

The final set saw Jason Munns take the reps with the twos on offense going against the twos on defense. He went 6-of-11 during the set for 66 yards.

"Our young guys did great today I thought," observed Bradley. "Guys are working hard to earn spots, so it's nice to see the effort we saw out there today. We think we're going to be ready against Washington."

Bronco's Impressions

-"We held out about 8-10 players today who we're confident and were already proven. It was a really great chance for us to evaluate some guys that are battling for starting spots. We accomplished what we needed to and that film will really help us establish a two-deep by this Wednesday."

-"We thought the risk was worth it," he said on allowing Riley Nelson to go live. "Not only for him, but to improve our team, so it's great for him to take a few hits and then have to get up and throw the football and run around. It's really good for the defense, so they can get conditioned. Part of what is happening now is them getting used to finishing on a quarterback."

-Mendenhall is unable to name which inside linebackers and tight ends he's leaning toward playing until after they've assessed the film and what they see from now until Wednesday. Coaches played every inside linebacker equally on Saturday to further assess which ones will form the two-deep roster.

-"I thought from a getting-everyone-aligned standpoint and from a controlling-the-defense [standpoint], that was good," said Mendenhall about Uale and Galeai's play at safety. "There wasn't enough plays being made, so their presence wasn't felt enough to me."

-Mendenhall indicated that they're still looking to fill the backup fullback position, where Mike Hague is seeing a lot of reps.

"Dead even," said Mendenhall about the quarterback race. "At this point I would say it's between Riley and Jake, but they're dead even, with James being number three."


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