Kiesau: We are making slow progress. It's getting better every day, small strides. There are a few guys that are kind of standing out and making some bigger strides. Overall, as a group, I think we're going in the right direction; I just think we've got to get better as a group.
This is kind of a crucial time right now in camp where you're at your 11th or 12th practice. The legs get a little tired and the mind gets a little weaker. So we've got to kind of battle through that as we finish camp in the next week.
BSN: Who are the guys who are standing out?
Kiesau: Pat (Williams) is doing well. Cody Crawford's doing well. Stephone Robinson, when he's healthy, he's doing well. Blake (Mackey) is coming along, but he's kind of in that tired mode right now where he's got to push through and mentally battle through camp.
BSN: What about the kid Scott McKnight. Has he been a surprise?
Kiesau: You know, he came in here and learned the offense and did real well. He's at the point now where he's got the entire playbook in front of him — there's a lot of things (he's looking at) right now — so he's kind of mentally frustrated right now, but he'll get it. He's kind of in the place where he's in mental overload.
BSN: Dusty Sprague, he's kind of been in and out with bumps and bruises. Do you expect him to play in Friday's scrimmage?
Kiesau: I don't know. I hope so. He's a guy we need. Unfortunately, he twisted his ankle (Wednesday). But he's a guy we know will battle back in a hurry.
BSN: How's the work on the deep ball going?
Kiesau: Well, it's not easy going. We want to throw the ball deep, but you've got to have the right guy to do it. There's a lot of things that factor into that. So, we're working on it and we'll get better at it. We're not where we need to be right now, to be honest, but we've got a week and a half left, so we'll get it.
Thursday Afternoon Practice Notes
• The team was in shells Thursday afternoon after going hard in full pads earlier in the day. They'll have a walk-through in the stadium Friday morning in preparation for Friday evening's scrimmage, which begins at 6:15 p.m. and is open to the public.
• RB Thomas Perez needs to learn how to use his 220 pounds in protection. He got clocked by Abraham Wright as he was trying to block for a quarterback on one play. Wright later went down hard after a play, but was OK – just had the wind knocked out of him.
• In one of the few successful long pass plays in recent practices, Scott McKnight got open deep with the twos, hauled in a pass (couldn't tell who threw it), and made a defender miss on the way to the end zone.
• Dan Hawkins expects to execute the same amount of plays as Sunday's scrimmage in Friday night's affair (they went 125 Sunday, including special teams plays). They'll incorporate more special teams situations into the drives, he said. They may also make the units go on some sustained 10-play drives in order to get used to that, and will put the team in through some situational aspects, too (goal line, pinned deep, etc.)
• Hawkins ended Thursday afternoon's practice with a little fun. As punishment for some mistakes/turnovers, the offense was supposed to run one gasser and the defense three after practice. But Hawkins gave the team a way to get out of it. (Hawkins said afterwards it was a reward for two tough practices).
Four freshmen stood near the end zone to receive punts. If they caught the ball, their unit didn't have to run. OL Wes Palazzi got the offense off the hook by securing the first field-able punt. Then the comedy routine began. Jason Brace ran backwards, raised his arms only to have the ball fall at his feet. Eric Lawson got under the ball, but fell on his backside and the ball scooted away. Justin Nonu ran to his right and actually caught his punt, then booted it back toward the punters as defensive teammates cheered. Fellow linebacker Michael Sipili couldn't repeat the feat, and it appeared the defense was going to run. Then Hawkins let DL coach Romeo Bandison have a shot to redeem the defense. He casually hauled in a high one and no one ran.