The practice highlights included several interceptions by the defense against the scout team, and one off Peyton Bender. The defense also hit their holes well and aggressive to the ball carrier. The offense was crisp and sharp, and several receivers got in some nice route running and solid receptions.
Mike Leach was succinct when summing up his view of Tuesday's workout.
"Pretty good," he said.
Early in practice, the defense worked on position group drills that included strafing, keeping up and tight with a receiver, and intercepting the ball after watching the quarterback’s movements. Special teams drills included field goal work, where Erik Powell had some solid strokes, but did hit the upright on one attempt.
The defense followed the field goal drill with more individual position group work. The offense split up giving quarterbacks and wide receivers a chance to work on different routes before combining the routes to work on the continuity of the routes. Tyler Baker and Kyle Sweet both had nice one-handed catches during this drill. The O-line went up against the scout D-line to work on blocking and hand placement.
Next it was the scout teams going against the 1s and 2s. On multiple occasions, the Cougar D-line burst through the scout O-line and caused havoc. Destiny Vaeao (pictured above), Isaac Dotson, and Logan Tago each had tackles for loss. On one play, Daniel Ekuale was so quick into the backfield, he intercepted a pass. Just like game days, Jeremiah Allison flew around the field and had several big hits.
“He needs to get a little better in the run game, but if he keeps working he’ll have a great season for us,” linebackers coach Ken Wilson said. “As the only senior, guys look up to him, he’s got a great personality, he’s very intense and probably works harder than anyone on the team.”
Following the team drills, the defense lost their corners and a few safeties as D took on the scout team in 9-on-9. The corners and safeties moved faced off against wide receivers in 1-on-1 drills. The receivers won the drill with several nice routes form Tavares Martin., River Cracraft, Sweet and Jamal Morrow. Cracraft and Sweet both had excellent catches just in front of Willie Roach. However, Roach did get the better of Sweet on one play where the young safety had the receiver blanketed. While the 1-on-1 was happening, the O-line and D-line battled in the 9-on-9 to pit run blocking against run stopping. It was a relatively even matchup as the D-line forced some stops for loss or no gain, but the O-line also opened some enormous holes for the ‘backs.
“Today against the D-line was okay, I think last Tuesday was our best,” coach Clay McGuire said. “We have a good D-line, so to come out against them every day, that’s great for us.”
The Cougars did more 11-on-11 with scout teams taking on the offense and defense. For the offense, Luke Falk did a good job reading the scout defense and going through his progressions before making a decision. For the defense, they had a field day with turnovers. Darrien Molton, Kirkland Parker, Treshon Broughton, Taylor Taliulu (pictured above) and Paris Taylor each had an interception. However, with the good there was some bad, Charleston White, Parker and Taliulu each dropped an interception. More good: Isaac Dotson made an incredible break on a ball – that I honestly didn’t think he’d get to – and he dove to break up the pass.
Finally during team time, the No. 2 offense, with Bender at the helm, took on the No. 1 defense. Bender’s first pass was tipped by Allison before Dotson picked it off. Bender recovered, later hitting John Thompson for a touchdown; White just missed a tip away before Thompson broke away. Lastly, the defense and offense split to take on the scouts. The defense was quick to the ball on nearly every snap against the scout O. Molton had another interception and Kache Palacio caused a fumble. Ivan McLennan was also a force as he burst through the line multiple times to get tackles for loss. For the offense, Gerard Wicks was running hard on numerous occasions, and Falk continued to take what the defense gave him.
- Matt Abramo, Suli Hameed, Amosa Sakaria, T.J. Fehoko, Michael Cole, Mack Hopkins and C.J. Dimry did not participate in the hour-long shorts and helmets practice. Luvu was limited in Sunday’s practice too, I forgot to add him Sunday night.
- Darius Lemora hasn’t really seen time the last few practices at nickel back. He is participating in drills, but was not in the team time much Tuesday. Logan Tago mostly filled the role of the No. 2 nickel back behind Dotson, and looked solid. Tago had several bursts of athleticism Tuesday.
- Hunter Dale whos has yet to play this season, continues to receive the bulk of the backup snaps at free safety (behind Shalom Luani). Dale is showing flashes of quickness and getting to the ball quickly. As a true freshman, he is still learning, but he’s done a good enough job in Grinch’s defense to be listed as the backup free safety on the depth chart all three weeks of the season.
- Throughout practice, the team continued their work on special teams including field goals, kickoff against scouts and scout kickoff against return.
QB: Luke Falk
RB: Gerard Wicks
LT: Joe Dahl
LG: Gunnar Eklund
RT: Cole Madison
X: Dom Williams
Z: Gabe Marks
H: Robert Lewis
DE: Darryl Paulo
NT: Robert Barber
DT: Destiny Vaeao
Rush LB: Ivan McLennan
WIL LB: Jeremiah Allison
MIKE LB: Peyton Pelluer
NICKEL CB: Isaac Dotson
CB: Darrien Molton
CB: Charleston White
SS: Taylor Taliulu
FS: Shalom Luani