"When they get these opportunities – they all count, that's what they gotta understand."
Both Wes Concepcion and Erik Powell trotted out at the punter and kicker positions on Thursday. In team reps, they were both perfect from about 27 yards out, but the punting game was a different story.
Few punts had any air under them, "shanks" came in bunches and the defense managed to block three of them.
Afterward, Concepcion admitted the practice session was below standard, and added that his concentration was off.
"Today wasn't my best day," the redshirt junior said. "I just gotta keep getting better each day and working on the little things. Today's wasn't the best day, so we gotta bounce back and keep going from that."
Russell said that Concepcion needs to work on his overall confidence in terms of doing his job: catching and kicking the ball.
"I think a lot of times Wes gets worried about what's going on up in front of him and around him and that's not his job; there's eight other guys that handle that part of it. He's gotta buy into that. As far as the fundamentals, he knows what we asked him to do, and he's gotta continue to clean that up."
Russell said what he needs from Concepcion is 35 to 38 yard punts along with a 4.2 second hang time.
THURSDAY'S PRACTICE AGAIN FEATURED some physical play and some skirmishes broke out in the second day of shoulder pad workouts. The primary altercation involved RB Marcus Mason, who when I looked over was in the process of body slamming S Darius Lemora.
We also had the first fumble of the spring when BUCK Ivan McLennan laid a big hit on RB Theron West, jarring the ball loose and putting West in quick reverse.
OFFENSIVELY, THE RUN GAME was highlighted primarily by New Mexico Bowl standout West, the fumble notwithstanding. West carried the ball seven times with the first- and second-team offenses during the team drill. His backfield mates Jamal Morrow and Teondray Caldwell had a single carry each.
"It's a battle right now with all the running backs," West said. "We all love it. It keeps us excited. We just compete, compete, compete and just battle it out."
West said he is doing a much better job of "playing fast and not hesitating" – which coach Mike Leach mentions daily.
"We mope over that all day, every day," West said. "When we watch film, it's making sure that you're playing fast and making sure you're not hesitating."
At quarterback, Connor Halliday continued his consistent play, going 13 of 19 with one drop in 7-on-7 drills. He was also victim of a coverage sack during the drill. In team play, Halliday went 11 of 15 with a touchdown pass to Kristoff Williams in the back corner of the end zone on his final play of the scrimmage.
For the second straight day of practice, wide receiver Vince Mayle delivered another highlight play. On the first of team drills, he created separation from cornerback Charleston White and caught a deep ball from Halliday.
Running with the 2's on offense was Luke Falk, who continues to alternate with Tyler Bruggman at backup quarterback. Falk completed 13 of 20 passes including a touchdown to wide receiver Drew Loftus.
Falk was also "sacked" by defensive lineman Lyman Faoliu during the drill.
In team, Falk was 9 of 12 with a touchdown pass to Mayle, who managed to get away from cornerback Marcellus Pippins in the back of the end zone. Falk also rushed once and was "sacked" by WILLs Chester Su'a and Jeremiah Allison.
RUNNING WITH THE 1s
QB – Connor Halliday
RB – Theron West and Jamal Morrow
X, H, Y and Z receivers – Multiple players
LT – Joe Dahl
LG – Gunnar Eklund
C – Sam Flor and Riley Sorenson
RG – Jacob Seydel
RT – Cole Madison
CB – Daquawn Brown and Charleston White
S – Taylor Taliulu and Isaac Dotson
BUCK – Kache Palacio
SAM – Cyrus Coen
MIKE – Darryl Monroe
WILL – Tana Pritchard
NT – Toni Pole
T – Xavier Cooper
E – Destiny Vaeao
RUNNING WITH THE 2'S
CB – Marcellus Pippins and Tracy Clark
S – David Bucannon, Darius Lemora and Beau Glover
T – Darryl Paulo
NT – Robert Barber
E – Lyman Faoliu
BUCK – Ivan McLennan
SAM – Mitchell Peterson
MIKE – Chester Sua
WILL – Jeremiah Allison