"I would say I would feel a lot better in my technique this year than last year," Lene Lesatele said. "Last year I was really sloppy and my legs were shaking."
"Now I can get low with better technique. I used to use my shoulders a lot, which caused no separation, but now I use my arms to extend the blocks and I'm getting better at it."
Coach Poppinga has worked with Lesatele in an effort to get him up to speed by having a more physical presence on the field.
"Staying tough and being aggressive is what he wants from me," he said. "He just told me to be aggressive and hit them in the mouth, and I don't any problems with doing that."
While Lesatele might be more technically sound and be more acclimated to the altitude, he still isn't where he needs to be. When compared to other Cougar defenders in his class, the lack of endurance and time spent on preparing himself for spring camp has shown, and that's translated into a lack of production in spring camp.
"Right now it's basically me getting in shape now," Lesatele admitted. "During winter break I had been going on and off with my conditioning and had been slacking off. That will show right here during camp."
It's a lesson well learned and one Lesatele doesn't want to repeat again.
"If you don't do what you're supposed to do in the off season it will show when it's time to show up and perform during camp," he said. "I have to spend more time doing conditioning because right now it's low and I'm behind. This won't happen again, that's for sure."
"It's been a tough spring for me but it's helping me to know what I need to do better. It's also helping us as a team come together a lot better. It's going great overall and the defense is going to be tough. There's a lot of experience and depth out here, and I expect by the time fall camp comes around it's only going to be that much better. I just have to make sure that I'm better prepared this time, and I will."