The defense, led by ends Mkristo Bruce and Matt Mullennix, looked to put the offense on their heels quickly, breaking through the lines on several occasions, with the biggest wrap-up recorded by sophomore linebacker Alex Hamill on converted corner-turned-running back Ian Bell.
Once the lines moved to the one-on-one drills, however, players from both sides stepped up and laid some hard hits.
The veritable chess-match between the lines went back and forth right from the beginning, with defensive tackle Matt Eichelberger bullying o-lineman Josh Duin to take down the "quarterback" -- a large pad weighted at the bottom with sand representing the QB; think 80s toy Weebles for you old timers -- behind the line. However, the very next play belonged to the offense; as senior Sean O'Connor held tackle Aaron Johnson off well until the whistle blew to end the play.
The shoving match continued as Bruce made the drill look easy, dodging around Charles Harris to down the "QB" quickly and effectively. Not to be outdone, fellow defensive lineman Fevaea'i Ahmu flew by sophomore Dan Rowlands, crushing the QB pad to the turf.
Johnson, stymied by the offense several times during the drill, finally exacted some revenge at the expense of Justin Luafalemana, virtually walking over the senior to end the play in favor of the defense.
Although the day ultimately belonged to the D, bright spots for the offense were epitomized by several nice outings from Duin, Rowlands, sophomore Andy Roof, and freshman Kenny Alfred
The rest of the team also continued to play with purpose, none more so than the aerial attack of the Cougar offense, with WR-QB tandems shaping up as forecast -- high powered and explosive.
Quarterback Alex Brink connected with receivers Michael Bumpus and Jason Hill for three touchdowns during 11-on-11 and 2-minute drills, at times looking close to automatic in the pocket.
Fellow QBs Gary Rogers and Cole Morgan also looked sharp in the pocket. Rogers connected with tight end Jed Collins several times during the day. Morgan found a receiver in the end zone -- junior Finas Rabb III, a 6-6 transfer from Santa Ana College who put together a fine spring, and is effectively doing the same early-on this fall.
QB Kevin Lopina, a freshman transfer out of Kansas State who will redshirt this season, also seems to be learning the ropes well, hitting Collins, Bumpus and sophomore Benny Ward for a number of completions on the day.
The play of Lopina this fall has pleased quarterback Coach Timm Rosenbach, who likes what he has seen as far as his attitude and approach to the position: "He is very coach-able. He needs another good year in the weight room, could put a little more zip on his passes, but he's got the right build," Rosenbach said. "He's a guy that could really compete for a spot this (next) spring."