Scrimmage Report: Defense Turns it Up

Kelly Poppinga

The Cougar defense bounced back during today's scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium. After having their lunch handed to them the previous scrimmage, the defense held the offense in check throughout the day's scrimmage. Three and outs, batted balls, and tackles for loss marked today's scrimmage.

"We stepped it up," said defensive lineman Hala Paongo, "I'm proud of our guys and now we just need to make that happen every day. We didn't let the offense push us around like last time, and that is what it has to be every day."

First Drive

John Beck took the snaps for the first series and went two for two for 15 yards. The series included back-to-back sacks; Brett Denney had the first and Russell Tialavea and Ian Dulan combined on the second one. Curtis Brown rushed the ball twice for eight yards on the series. His first carry was highlighted by a brutal straight-arm of a defensive back.

"We wanted to come out strong and not let them get past midfield," said safety Quinn Gooch, "Last scrimmage they took it down the field on us on the first series and we made sure they didn't do that this time."

Second Drive

Jason Beck then took the snaps with the second unit and started out by completing consecutive passes to Brett Cooper and Joe Semanoff to move the chains. Linebacker Terrance Hooks busted through the line to drop Ray Hudson for a three-yard loss. The offense could not move the chains again. Ja. Beck finished the series going three for three for 29 yards.

Third Drive

John Beck then went one for three for seven yards on the next series. Aaron Wagner knocked down two consecutive passes to force a three and out. One deflection came on the line of scrimmage, and the other came in coverage on tight end Jonny Harline.

Fourth Drive

Kelly Poppinga made his presence known as the defense went three and out again. He accounted for a pass deflection and then dropped Ray Hudson in the open field for no gain. Hala Paongo also stood Hudson up at the line of scrimmage for no gain.

"I've had to work my way up after sitting out a year," said Poppinga, "I need to start making plays. What I did today has to be what it is every practice. I want to play, so I intend on making plays every practice."

Fifth Drive

Max Hall then took the field and moved the ball effectively until the defense dug in at midfield. Hall went four for six for 22 yards. The highlight of the series came when running back Harvey Unga collided head on with Corby Hodgkiss, planting the safety firmly on his backside.

Sixth Drive

John Beck came back on the field and moved the ball for two first downs before the defense held again. Beck completed one of two passes for eight yards. Fui Vakapuna rushed the ball twice for seven yards and Manase Tonga had the play of the series when he took it up the middle for 18 yards.

Seventh Drive

The defense forced another three and out against Jason Beck and the twos. Beck completed one of two passes for three yards. Once again, Poppinga dropped Hudson for a four yard loss.

Eighth Drive

Jacob Bower then took the reps for the eighth series completing two of three passes for 16 yards. Bower's best pass, a 20-yard out to Zac Erekson, was nullified by a holding penalty. Linebacker Gary Lovely chased Bower out of the pocket to end the series.

Ninth Drive

The ninth series saw the only offensive touchdown. John Beck hit Mike Hague underneath and then the true freshman took the ball 70 yards downfield for the score. Cole Miyahira made the best play for the defense during the series when he came up to stop Curtis Brown in his tracks after a one-yard gain.

Tenth Drive

Jason Beck then came in and completed two passes in a row to Brett Cooper for a combined 27 yards. The did a good job of containing Vakapuna on the drive.

Eleventh Drive

James Lark took over next and went three for four for 16 yards. He was picked off to end the drive by his Pine View High School buddy Carter Mees.

Drive Twelve

Hall and Bower both took reps on the final drive. Hall went one for two for seven yards, and Bower went one for three for seven yards. One of Bower's passes was dropped.

Standout Player

Kelly Poppinga was the standout player of today's scrimmage. He recorded multiple tackles and pass knockdowns with the second unit.

"It's great to be in there making plays," said Poppinga, "The defense shut them down today. We held them to a lot of three and outs which is what we want."

Holding the Line

During the scrimmage, the defensive front consistently stood up the offensive front along the line of scrimmage. The defensive line was a question mark heading into fall camp, but almost two weeks into practice, there is little doubt that the D-line will be vastly improved over last season.

"We're getting confident and we're just playing out there," said Paongo, "We heard a lot of talk that we weren't going to get it done this year, but we are in practices and we need to keep turning it up, get stronger and continue to be a force on the line."

"It's all in our attitude and our confidence," added Poppinga, "We dominated the offense today and we need to keep doing that. We came out strong, that was the best thing. We stopped what they were doing out there."

The scrimmage also featured numerous check-offs underneath by the quarterbacks as the running backs caught most of the passes for short gains. The downfield coverage was hardly challenged downfield.

"Check, check, check underneath, that's all it was today," said Gooch, "You'd like to think that it was because we were covering well down field, but it's frustrating. I wish John would have tested us deep more because that's the only way we're going to get better. It's nice to think that we covered them well downfield, but it would have been nice to have been tested more."

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