Bowl Game or Bust
High energy defense highlighted the third day of 2017 spring practice for the Beavers. When the first offensive unit hit the field they were met by a loud, focused in defensive unit. The defense looked like they were locked in to winning, even in intrasquad scrimmages.
“The energy is there, we’re trying to compete. We aren’t trying to be at the bottom we’re trying to make it to the top,” said Titus Failauga. “We’re going to a bowl game. We’re going to it. That's our goal and nothing is going to stop us from getting there.”
“I am happy with our progress day one, day two, day three,” said defensive coordinator Kevin Clune. “Today was the third day in a row and could’ve been a day where they weren’t into it, but they were more into it today than the previous days.”
The secondary, missing leaders Treston Decoud and Devin Chappell from last year, were playing with the most intensity out of any of the position groups. Xavier Crawford broke up back to back passes from Jake Luton; and Christian Wallace, the highly regarded 2016 recruit who was ineligible last season was making aggressive plays with the second team defense.
“I see a lot of potential, I see a lot of guys stepping up,” said Crawford. “I think if we continue in the direction we're going, we're going to have some surprises out there.”
Heading into the spring the defensive line is focusing on making a leap from last season where they were tied at the bottom of the Pac-12 in sacks. Transitioning back into a defensive end after moving to linebacker last year Failauga is looking to help the defense by increasing pressure in the backfield.
“We’re definitely focusing on more pass rush drills and techniques to increase our productivity on the D-line and get more sacks and more pressure on the quarterback,” said Failauga.
Clune stressed multiple times during his time with the media that they were going to build off last year, but needed to take leaps in every area and refocus on the fundamental part of the game to do so.
“We’re building off what we did last year but none of that stuff matters,” Clune said. “ We’ve got to re-establish playing hard, playing smart, and being accountable for each other. But over these first few days I’m happy with our progress.”
The big storyline for today's intrasquad scrimmage was that Jake Luton, the newcomer to the quarterback depth chart this year, again took the most reps with the first team offense. He showed off his quick release and big arm going downfield to Hunter Jarmon on the sideline, but it was knocked down by Crawford.
Garretson was again the second quarterback to take the field going with the second team offense, but had trouble driving downfield as Wallace’s aggressive play helped keep Isaiah Hodgins and other receivers in check.
Marcus McMaryion then followed Garretson, but worked with the first team offense. He hit Trevon Bradford with a nice pass across the middle, but then had a pass that went directly into the ground in front of Ryan Nall.
Also notable about today’s practice was that it fell on head coach Gary Andersen's birthday. Players and coaches got together before practice to sing for Andersen.
“That’s the big boss man," Failauga said. "Everybody respects him, and we all wished him a happy birthday."