PROVO — A team scuffle four plays into the team drill session cut practice short — sort of. Coach Bronco Mendenhall made up a brutal obstacle course as a form of punishment for defensive players getting too physical during a non-contact drill.
Mendenhall wasn’t particularly upset with his defense being a bit too aggressive and termed how he dealt with the incident as a “teachable moment” for the entire team.
The players were asked to jump over three sets of of stacked blocking pads followed by a dive into the ice-cold pools.
For senior defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna, the physical play that led to the “teachable moment” was an expression of how anxious the defense is to start hitting.
“I’m usually not excited for fall practices, but it’s totally different this year for me and I think for the entire team or at least for the defense,” said Manumaleuna. “We’re feeling like we’re ready to go — that we could play tomorrow and that’s exciting. It’s a new thing I think.”
Although the defense was mostly responsible for the scuffle, the entire team took part in Bronco’s diabolical obstacle course. In year’s past, if the defense was held responsible, they’d do the extra work with the offense watching and vice versa.
“It’s not like we’re pointing fingers at the guys we think are responsible, but that we’re all in it together,” said Manumaleuna. “Sure, it wasn’t fun, but it’s what you do — you do what Coach asks and everything he asks us to do is for a purpose and if you know that and understand that then you’re willing to do anything. We’re in it together — not just the defense, but the entire team. We’re all together this year.”
The defense will be allowed to hit in full-contact drills very soon and the defense couldn’t be more excited.
-Riley Nelson completed all three of his passes during team drills for 16 yards unofficially.
-The play of practice was Nelson hitting Brett Thompson downfield for a gain of around 50 yards.
-Offensive lineman Brock Stringham returned to practice and assumed his spot with the first-team offense. Michael Yeck saw reps in place of Ryker Mathews at left tackle with the 1s.
-Cougar commits Billy Green and Mike Davis both attended today’s practice session.
-Joe Sampson and Cody Hoffman were again absent from practice.