Going through the same drills again and again has added an element of toughness to the entire team, according to tight end Andrei Lintz. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound wide receiver said the added reps have made picking up the Air Raid offense easier.
"Realistically, we've been running every single play every single day since spring ball," Lintz said. "We did a really good job over the summer where three nights a week we were out here for an hour to an hour-and-a-half just repping our whole offense."
"It's pretty much second nature."
Leach echoed his playmaker's sentiment while also adding that structure allows the skill positions to refine their technique.
"You got to develop your skills," Leach said. "If you're bouncing all over the place you're not developing anything. You're constantly doing scheme this, scheme that. This was the third day, so there were a few guys who got mentally overloaded, which is understandable."
LINTZ WAS AMONG those appearing exceptionally comfortable.
He again looked impressive on Saturday, taking multiple big hits from an improving WSU linebacking corps before popping back up with the football in-hand. On one occasion, Darryl Monroe drew a smattering of hollers from his teammates after laying WSU's "inside receiver" out. Lintz hopped back to his feet quickly while barely looking phased after suffering a collision that would knock most inside receivers out cold.
The fifth-year senior said he added strength this offseason while shedding the little remaining fat he had left. Polishing his route running and improving his quickness were the focus of his summer, but unlike many of his teammates, he managed to avoid losing weight thanks to a jumbo-sized diet that included roughly five meals a day.
Lintz hopes the result of the hard work and eating plan has molded him into a Rob Gronkowski-type weapon that will make opposing defenses cringe in 2012. But he isn't the only member of the team to have reworked their physique over the summer.
"The (offensive linemen) have bigger arms and smaller bellies," Leach said when asked to pinpoint whose made the most progress of his position players.
The line again played solidly on Saturday, allowing quarterbacks Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday enough time to find open targets throughout the scrimmage portion of practice. The play of the afternoon came when Connor Halliday avoided pressure before scrambling out of the pocket to hit a streaking Gino Simone in the end zone for a touchdown.
Simone had another strong afternoon, consistently shedding defenders in one-on-one drills before showcasing the reliable hands noticeably absent from the playing field over the last two seasons.
While the offense looked polished, one defensive player has already refined his skills in just his third day of action. However, things didn't exactly start easily for nose tackle Ioane Gauta.
Just ask defensive coordinator Mike Breske.
"He had a great day yesterday," said Breske of the transfer from Fullerton Junior College. "Day one, I don't know. He was all over the place. He was even in a two-point stance, which our nose guards should not be in. But yesterday he made some great plays on the screen game. He's going to be a physical, physical young man in the middle."