PROVO — The level of offensive execution this fall compared with what we saw in spring is quite stark through three days. The biggest strides have come with the run game where a now-healthy and experienced offensive front has plowed holes a plenty for Michael Alisa and others.
“The offensive line has been all the difference so far,” said Alisa. “Having holes to run through with their blocking being so sharp and precise — I’m having a lot of fun out there.”
Alisa has been seeing first-team reps and is often seen breaking off big runs to the outside and up-the-middle of the defense. It’s quite a contrast to this past spring when most running plays would be whistled dead a split second after the ball was handed-off.
“They’re making it easy for us and that’s obviously nice,” said Alisa said about the offensive line. “It’s expected to make an improvement from spring, but considering what we have back now with some new faces the improvement is even more than we probably expected at this point.”
It’s not only Alisa, but others such as Iona Pritchard, Adam Hine, Paul Lasike and true freshman Jamaal Williams have seen early success.
“Jamaal Williams is lightning,” described Alisa. “he’s doing amazing and you can see right away that he has the potential to be a great running back for us. We’re a tight group and he’s fit in well and he obviously has what it takes to be an amazing running back.”
Although Alisa is receiving the bulk of the reps and widely considered as the top option in the backfield, he doesn’t see it that way.
“I’m just trying to earn a spot like everyone else,” said Alisa. “I have to work for everything I get, so I’m not taking the attitude that I’m there and that I’m the top guy. There’s way too much talent at running back to take that attitude.”
-Kyle Van Noy took part in team drills for the first time this fall. With the team going without pads Van Noy saw limited action at outside linebacker.
-Both Joe Sampson and Cody Hoffman were again held out due to disciplinary reasons, but are expected to practice this Monday.
-Ian Dulan is back to full action and saw every rep at defensive end with the first-team defense.
-Craig Bills has been seeing most of the reps with the first team defense and has impressed Coach Bronco Mendenhall with his play. Mendenhall mentioned that Bills is likely to have a significant role within the defense this year.
-Riley Nelson unofficially went 4-6 for 37 yards in team drills. James Lark went 3-4 for 20 yards.
-Cody Raymond was the standout receiver during team drills — hauling in three passes for a combined 37 yards.