Both units did, however, have their share of big plays.
“It was explosive and sloppy,” Leach said of the team portion. “The highlight would be that the defense got a lot of turnovers, the negatives would be that obviously the offense turned it over, but then there were a lot of explosive plays given up (by the defense), too, so explosive plays on either side are good. But, you know, not the consistency we need overall.”
The 11-on-11 part of practice got off to a good start for the offense, with senior quarterback Luke Falk (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) escaping pressure and connecting with second-year sophomore Isaiah Johnson-Mack (6-3, 218) for a quick completion.
Running back James Williams (5-11, 192) also had a good day, breaking through the offensive line for a 20-yard run on his first carry. With multiple touchdowns, Williams seemed to be focused all afternoon — a good sign for the sophomore after a poor showing with multiple drops in the scrimmage Saturday. Senior running back Jamal Morrow (5-9, 200) also looked great running out of the backfield to catch passes from Falk.
Center Noah Osur-Myers (6-4, 307), a sophomore, looked like he’s made improvements in snapping the ball. He was getting off quick and on-target snaps in the shotgun formation, from which Falk could make precise and immediate throws. Both he and Frederick Mauigoa, who Leach recently said was the leading starting candidate at center, have had trouble making clean snaps this spring.
Sophomore receiver Dezmon Patmon (6-4, 211) made one of the more impressive catches of the day, using only his speed (he didn’t need his size) to beat true freshman corner Isaiah Love (6-0, 174) with a nice stutter-step move, and haul in a pass from Falk before jetting 30 yards into the end zone, igniting cheers from his fellow offensive players.
It was a poor sequence for Love as on the very next play Falk connected to junior slot Kyle Sweet (6-0, 192), who beat Love, again, and dashed for a touchdown after the catch.
Love would recover, though, for the defense’s first interception. He was in coverage against Robert Lewis (5-9, 170) in the end zone when he simply outjumped the senior receiver to intercept a pass from Falk, drawing a vocal explosion from his defensive teammates.
When Tyler Hilinski (6-3, 217), the probable backup quarterback, came in to relieve Falk, the third-year sophomore immediately was nimble and self-assured, scrambling to escape pressure and running for short yardage.
It wasn’t long, however, before the defense got the better of Hilinski, with junior defensive back Sean Harper (6-2, 184) picking off a poorly thrown pass and running it all the way to the opposite end zone.
The interceptions didn’t stop when sophomore quarterback Anthony Gordon (6-3, 189) came in. Senior safety Robert Taylor (5-10, 183) picked off Gordon’s first throw and then had some trash talk for Gordon.
With Hilinski back under center after Gordon’s turnover, Sweet, Patmon, Johnson-Mack, and junior receiver Easop Winston (5-11, 183) all caught touchdown passes from the sophomore, prompting Leach to stop play to berate his entire roster for the sloppiness.
The Cougars’ secondary took Leach’s words to heart. On the very next play, senior linebacker Isaac Dotson (6-1, 224) provided excellent coverage on the quicker Lewis — Dotson maneuvered in such a way that he had Lewis turned around so that he couldn’t even see the pass from Hilinski, and the ball dropped to the ground without the senior receiver ever making a play on it.
With sophomore quarterback Trey Tinsley (6-3, 201) under center, second-year freshman linebacker Jahad Woods (6-0, 216) picked off a short pass that slipped right through the hands of walk on wide receiver Riley Krenz (5-10, 180).