The 850-yard test

Going independent has posed some new challenges for the Cougars. To ensure the team is prepared to meet those challenges both physically and mentally, Coach Mendenhall has his team doing something new this year.

Most hate waking up early and going to work on a Monday morning. It signals the beginning of the work week and a long time until the weekend comes. When the Monday morning blues have you down, here's something to consider.

Every Monday at about 6:00 A.M., the Cougars are put through a grueling 850-yard shuttle. It's a conditioning test that, for the defensive backs, has to be done in under two minutes and 29 seconds. And, it is done prior to suiting up for a hard day's work of team practice that will be repeated twice.

So far, according to Eason, only four defensive backs have passed this year's new conditioning regimen in the time limit: Preston Hadley, Carter Mees, Skye Povey and Robbie Buckner.

As fast as they can, the players first run out to the 25-yard line, sprint back, and then out again. The distance continues to increase until it reaches 210 yards.

"We sprint out 25 yards then back," Eason said. "Then we run out 50 yards and back, then 75 yards and back, then 110 yards and 210 and back …

‘This is an every Monday thing," continued Eason. "Like, instead of running the Y, this first day of camp we did it as a conditioning test. We all just keep running it until we make it. This Monday I have another shot, so I'm hoping I can make it and make the number of those that did it five."

Once a player does the test under the time limit, then they no longer have to run the test. They do, however, have to be there in attendance to support those that have yet to complete the test.

And how close was Eason to completing the test the last time he ran it?

"Well, I was just about 20 seconds off," he said. "It's a hard 20 seconds though. There are a lot of guys close to making it. Some guys are around seven seconds off to around 20 seconds off, so there are a lot of guys close to reaching the two minutes, 29 seconds, but it's really tough."

The Cougars will travel many miles this season, facing tough opponents on the road. The Cougar coaching staff is looking for different ways in which to further prepare the team to meet the demands of independence.

"Going independent, we have to have a different mindset," Eason said. "We have to do things that we've never done before and this is an example. Our coaches want us to be in the best shape ever. We're just doing different things because we're independent.

"Like, we're going on the road a lot this year and we have to win big games on the road, so this is preparing us for the worst situation ever. Doing it has helped me out physically and mentally. I'm in great shape and mentally strong too. It's a good thing."

Decisions, decisions

As of Tuesday, a final decision regarding the two starting cornerbacks had not been made. Eason said that the coaches are still trying to find the best combination of guys to play at corner.

"We kind of have an idea on who the starter is [at both spots], but nothing has been set yet. Hopefully we can figure that out by Wednesday because we're going to start preparing for Ole Miss."

There is a lot of talent in the Cougar secondary, a nice change since Coach Mendenhall took over at BYU. The great level of talent throughout the ranks is one reason for the lack of separation.

"Every day I've seen different guys make plays," Eason said. "It's a battle out there and you just have to pick your game up every day or you'll get left behind, so you have to come ready to play each and every day or else someone else will take your spot."

The two receiving the most reps as of late were Corby Eason and Joe Sampson, and it's very likely these two will finally be named the starting cornerbacks.

"Hopefully it will be that way, and I hope they make the decision soon so we can get ready for Ole Miss," Eason said. "We need to get as many reps as we can to get ready. I've been playing both field and boundary corner, so that needs to be worked out too. I'm comfortable playing both sides and will just do what's best for the team."

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