“We saw some good things out there today,” SUU Coach Ed Lamb said. “We had success on the offensive side of the ball and we had success on the defensive side of the ball.”
With a handful of new faces as well as some key position changes on both sides of the ball, things have been interesting so far. Notably there will be new faces on the offensive line and at linebacker, and a battle for the quarterback position is also shaping up.
The team lost four offensive linemen, including-time all-conference center Gavin Farr as well as three-year starter Cody Burgess to graduation, while guard Brad Meyer – who started at guard after moving from nose tackle last season – and starting right tackle Daron Griffin will also graduate this spring.
Senior guard Nick Nissen, an honorable mention all-Big Sky selection last season, returns, as does redshirt sophomore P.J. Taeao, who started a handful of games at guard last season. In addition to those two, a handful of players will compete for starting jobs on the O-line.
At linebacker the team returns just Matt Holley, a second-team all-Big Sky selection, but aside from him a group of veterans and newcomers will compete for playing time. Chinedu Ahanonu is the favorite to take over for first-team all-BSC performer Zak Browning, who departed to serve an LDS church mission, while sophomores Josh Kariya and Jarom Healey as well as freshmen Taylor Pili and Taylor Nelson are all in the mix.
The new players “are doing really well,” second-team all-BSC defensive end James Cowser said. “We have a completely new ‘backer corps with Chinedu and Koriya and Taylor Pili and all those guys, and they’re starting to step up and really fill the roles.”
At quarterback three players saw the majority of the action Saturday, including two players who both started last season, Aaron Cantu and Mike Sharp, while Ammon Olsen – who returned this spring after playing at SUU as a freshman, serving an LDS church mission and then transferring to BYU, where he was the primary back-up QB last year – also saw considerable action.
All three had success Saturday, SUU Coach Ed Lamb said, noting that “Aaron moved the ball well, Mike Sharp moved the ball well, Ammon Olsen moved the ball well, they were all on point today.”
Both Lamb and Cowser agreed that the team is starting to come together and that looking forward they want to see success on both sides of the ball.
“I’d just like to see competition and success on both sides of the ball,” Lamb pointed out. “We don’t want to have an offense-dominated defense or a defensive dominated offense and last week in scrimmage situations … I thought the defense was really dominant and today the offense definitely had the upper hand.”
“I think we’re finally putting everything together, the first two weeks [of spring] are really about putting everything together, getting that technique down again, making sure we put out the effort, that kind of stuff,” Cowser noted. “Now I think we’re putting it all together, starting to get our identity.”
The team will practice Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday’s at 11:00 a.m. for the next three weeks, with the annual spring game scheduled for April 26, with a tentative kickoff time of noon as the game will follow the SUU Invitational track meet, which is scheduled to wrap up that morning.