Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch is excited about the defense’s progress, but says there is still much work to be done.
“We still have a long, long way to go. You don’t get things fixed in three days, I wish you could. But we need to come back out on Thursday and be a little bit sharper. What ends up happening a lot of the times is you get the idea of the defense; you don’t get the details of the defense. We have got to get the details down and we have to have more urgency to get that done,” Grinch said.
Even though it was the team’s first practice in full pads, the defense wasn’t as physical as Grinch would have liked.
“You hope guys are jacked up, they want to be in pads and they haven’t been in pads in a while. I didn’t get that feel," Grinch said.
Up until the team scrimmage, the defense looked lackluster in drills. During the 1-on-1 drills, Falk, redshirt freshman quarterback Peyton Bender and the receivers made it look fairly easy as only a few passes were deflected.
Life was breathed into the defense in the 7-on-7 when they were able to jar the ball loose twice. They continued to take the energy straight to their second victory of spring practice. Sophomore cornerback Marcellus Pippins said that much of that energy generated near the end of practice can be attributed to Grinch.
“There is a lot of intensity in the meeting rooms watching film and stuff. It helps us out with our plays so that when we come out here we can fly around and execute,” Pippins said.
Mike Leach has also been pleased with what the defense has shown thus far in spring ball under Grinch.
“There is a little bit of a learning curve but as far as the motivation and people flying around, I think they are doing real well,” Leach said.
On the offensive side of the ball, Falk and Bender again split reps during the team scrimmage, but Tuesday appeared to be more about running the ball than throwing it. On passes that were thrown, Falk completed 8 of 12 attempts, while Bender was 9 of 13. All of the quarterbacks practiced handoffs individually during practice and immediately put it to use during the team scrimmage.
The experienced offensive line has been rock solid in protecting the pocket and giving Falk time to go through reads. On one of the first team’s first plays of the scrimmage, Falk didn't find an open receiver, and took the opportunity to run for some eight yards with the help of the offensive line occupying defensive linemen.
Sophomores Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks both received reps at running back. Wicks ran with the first team while Morrow ran with the second. Morrow was the only one able to find the end zone during practice but boh located running lanes on several carries to gain significant yardage.
The wind aided special teams Tuesday as Gabe Marks and Morrow took turns practicing kickoff returns in between drills and team scrimmage. Marks had a couple returns for about 30 yards. Morrow, who returned kick offs last season and recorded 453 yards on 22 returns (averaging 20.6 yards), had returns of 25 and 27 yards.
Sophomore Erik Powell was kicking.
Running with the 1’s
QB – Luke Falk
RB – Gerard Wicks
X – Dom Williams
Y – Robert Lewis
H – Daniel Lilienthal
Z – Gabe Marks
LT – Joe Dahl
LG – Gunnar Eklund
C – Riley Sorenson
RG – Eduardo Middleton
RT – Cole Madison
E – Jeremiah Mitchell
NT – Daniel Ekuale
T – Destiny Vaeao
BUCK – Kache Palacio
SAM – Jeremiah Allison
MIKE – Peyton Pelluer
CB – Marcellus Pippins
CB – Charleston White
S – Sulaiman Hameed
S – Taylor Taliulu