Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch can always be heard screaming “Get that ball!” or “Get it out!" and the defense reacts with ripping and tugging at the properly-tucked ball by the scout team. However, one coach that rings even louder than Grinch’s voice is Joe Salave’a. The Cougar D-line coach can be heard throughout the day yelling “Strip! Strip!” I lost count, but I heard that at least 10 times in one drill.
Salave’a added a few commands I hadn’t heard from him before, including “Ears back,” urging the D-line to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback and running backs. Daniel Ekuale had a few great plays as the D-line attempted to push the runner behind or at the line of scrimmage, prompting Salave’a to give Ekuale a pat on the back and a “Good job, Daniel.”
After the defense struggled to get some big plays going, Salave’a exclaimed, “You gotta be deliberate.” The defense took the advice and caused a fumble to close out the drill.
During the defense’s various 11-on-11 drills against the scout team, they caused nine turnovers, including seven interceptions. Marcellus Pippins snagged two interceptions throughout the day, Kirkland Parker, Parker Henry, Jeremiah Allison, Robert Barber and Darrien Molton had one each.
The most impressive interception play was a tie between Barber (pictured above) and Parker. The Cougar nose tackle snuck through the O-line during a screen pass and tipped the ball to himself, leading the defense to go crazy. Parker’s interception came during goal line work and I still don’t know how he scooped and corralled the ball before it hit the turf.
During the defensive drills, Daniel Ekuale split reps at starting nose tackle with Barber. Kache Palacio and Hercules Mata’afa continued to get a handful of reps with the 1s on the D-line.
For the second team defense, Treshon Broughton received the backup nickel back snaps, Kirkland Parker and Charleston White took turns at corner. At strong safety Calvin Green got the reps while Hunter Dale & Willie Roach split reps at free safety. Aaron Porter and Paris Taylor took snaps at the WIL and Chandler Leniu at backup MIKE. Finally, Logan Tago and Dylan Hanser received reps at the backup RUSH.
During the skeleton drill, the defense continued to have big moments. In their only real time facing off (meaning no scouts), the offense and defense were evenly matched. Luke Falk looked calm and comfortable in the pocket. Peyton Bender struggled, but at least one of the issues wasn’t his fault. Gerard Wicks fumbled, and the defense recovered. Finally, Bender threw an interception to Paris Taylor in the back of the end zone.
The offense did up-downs after the skeleton drill, likely because of two turnovers and the incompletions that piled up. Finally, the offense couldn’t do enough against the scout defense to end practice, and they were punished with more up downs to end practice.
The above video includes Wednesday's Notable Notes.
QB: Luke Falk
RB: Gerard Wicks / Keith Harrington / Jamal Morrow
LT: Joe Dahl
LG: Gunnar Eklund
C: Riley Sorenson
RG: Eduardo Middleton
RT: Cole Madison
X: Dom Williams
Y: River Cracraft
Z: Gabe Marks
H: Robert Lewis
DE: Darryl Paulo
NT: Daniel Ekuale / Robert Barber
DT: Destiny Vaeao
Rush LB –Ivan McLennan
WIL LB – Jeremiah Allison
MIKE LB – Peyton Pelluer
NICKEL: Parker Henry / Treshon Broughton (Henry received majority of 1st team snaps)
CB: Darrien Molton
CB: Marcellus Pippins
FS: Taylor Taliulu
SS: Shalom Luani