Logan • Coach Matt Wells has called it "give and take." But sometimes, the battle between the first-team offense and defense seems more substantial.
It felt more like a brawl as Maurice Alexander tore a ball from Brandon Swindall's hands, only moments after the big wideout had made a contested catch on the sidelines. Nevin Lawson made it clear who was winning, also on the first full team series, after intercepting Chuckie Keeton.
But the offense regrouped on their second try, getting underneath passes to Jojo Natson and Travis Reynolds for big yardage. And the only thing they "gave" to the defense was the chance to do up-downs on a chilly morning at Romney Stadium.
"It was that tiebreaker on third and fourth down, and they won," Lawson said. "Just quick underneath plays that's usually a high percentage pass. At the end of the day, they shouldn't win, but they did today."
There were some definite execution issues for the offense Monday morning: Throws were sailing long, and very few of the long routes finished with a catch. But the recovery was solid for the unit, which emerged from last week's scrimmage with a little bit to prove.
"Just like the defense had been doing last week, we bowed up and protected the passer and got some first downs," said senior Jamie Markosian, who has been taking reps at center. "It's good to see the guys catch the ball up the middle there and get some quality catches. We're protecting the passer and it's all coming together nicely."
Wells still expects to see more out of the receiving group. He said he is trying to make a point of making sure the whole team learns "not to accept mediocrity" whether in spring practice or on a Saturday in the fall.
"They have to make those catches, and all the receivers have to make contested catches," he said of the late plays by Natson and Reynolds. "The ones that are given and the ones that are no-brainers have to be automatic, and they have to be automatic all the time."
Still, Wells has felt the competition between the first-string units has been fairly close, which is a good thing.
"There's good give and take, which I think is gonna be the mark of a good team and will hopefully hold true at the end of the season next year," he said. "Most springs I've been around where there's good give and take, where somebody dominates this drill or that drill, day-to-day, I think it's good. When it's completely one-sided - in my 16 years as a coach - it hasn't been a good year."
Progress is slower for the second-team and third-team offense still, however. Both Craig Harrison and Jeff Manning were a bit off-target on Monday, throwing long on several attempts. And both Dwayne Lorick and Abou Toure couldn't bring down catches along the sideline, among a few drops on offense.
Jake Gallegos tipped two passes off the line on defense, but he was shaking his head after dropping one potential interception.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon