<b></b> begins the first of a regular ongoing feature answering questions inquiring BYU minds want answers to.

Q: Is the buzz about John Beck justified?

A: Yes. It can be attributed to three things Beck has demonstrated thus far since returning from his LDS mission:

1. Mobility: He's very good outside of the pocket and Crowton is always sure to mention his ability at running the option. The option is something Crowton aims at keeping in his offensive arsenal and Beck has proven very effective in running the option.

2. Arm Strength: Beck can throw the ball on a line and has a very quick release. He has good technique coming from the Mountain View High School program in Arizona and it shows. His technique and release are very good, as is his footwork.

3. Football junkie: Like a "gym-rat" in basketball, Beck is a "field rat" in football. He lives for football and it shows. He has an aggressive personality that is infectious and his teammates love it. Beck will push Berry for the starting spot – and that is healthy for the team.

Q: We seem to be overstocked with tight ends. Are we going to see some attrition here?

A: Yes, we have a glut of TE talent and the proverbial cream will rise to the top. Crowton came to BYU without tight end as an integral part in his offensive schemes. This changed overnight as Crowton found great talent in Doug Jolley, Spencer Nead and Gabriel Reid.

Crowton continues to employ a three tight end rotation. This will continue in the future because the position is loaded with new and possibly better talent than the abovementioned players. Names to watch out for on future Sundays in the NFL barring injury – and if they work hard enough in off-season workouts: Daniel Coats, Phil Niu and Bristol Olomua. Justin Jory and Aissac Aiono are also excellent and consistent contributors. Jeremy Gillespie and Andy Hadfield have done well in practice and scrimmages and will be vying for playing time next season. They could just step in for Jory if it weren't for the talents of Niu or Olomua.

Q: What's the latest on Manaia Brown's injury?

A: Brown has never felt 100% with his shoulder ever since the January accident when he was accompanying BYU recruits on a snowmobiling excursion. He missed virtually all of spring practice. Even throughout the summer in voluntary workouts with teammates (with no coaches around), Brown was invariably found in the trainer's room after EVERY workout applying electrical stimulation treatments to his shoulder. That's a clue. Though multiple MRI's were negative, there is no disguising the fact something is wrong inside and no one has been able to find or figure it out.

Brown is a gamer and will be ready to play this year – and through pain if necessary – unless the injury gets worse. It may be a situation similar to Utah's standout defensive end Jason Kaufusi who may save full contact for games rather than risk injury in practice. That's the call for his coaches to make.

Q: How is the offensive line progressing?

A: They're big, powerful and inexperienced. They're coming together well. Keele undergoes baptism by fire every practice going against All-American candidate Brady Poppinga every day. That's a very good thing. Keele is not shy about seeking advice from his friendly practice adversary. He was talking to Poppinga non-stop while he rested during the latest scrimmage looking for pointers. He's a good student of the game. Jake Kuresa is the same way; they're both eager to learn. Ofa Mohetau is always by Scott Jackson's side getting instruction and advice from him.

The back-ups Crowton is excited about are Gary McGiven, Scott Fisher and Scott Young. McGiven may get some looks with the first-team in coming weeks. Fisher is solid and is an effective back-up at the other tackle position. Young has found his calling on the offensive side of the ball. Crowton would like to redshirt Young because he's too good not to start. All three will likely start next season.

Q: Who is this year's "Poppinga" – or the guy that shines on defense?

A: There are several. Jared Meibos is starting to see a lot of reps with the first team. He busted his rear during the off-season and won the Bronco Mendenhall's eco-challenge. He's extremely aggressive and active from the Kat position.

Coach Mendenhall also raves about linebacker KC Bills. The coaching staff loves linebacker Mike Tanner. He's a leader. It's going to be tough to keep Bills off of the field. Bills is definitely a rising star that could be a "Poppinga" in the near future.

Defensive end Bill Wright bulked up tremendously going into fall camp. Many thought his starting role at DE was temporary, but he's still there. He's now at 265 and is always making plays during the scrimmages. He made a similar switch from linebacker to defensive end like Poppinga

Q: How have the players grasped the techniques of the new defense?

A: Judging from the latest scrimmage, the answer would be: Very well. The Kat backs, Cougarbacks and gunners (Bronco's terminology for cornerbacks) are in heaven. They consistently rave about the scheme and love playing in it. The same could be said of the linebackers.

The biggest adjustment has been along the defensive line. Mendenhall requires a much different and diverse scheme for the DL and some have struggling getting used to it, but they're coming around.

Q: How far has Mendenhall come in actually implementing his scheme?

A: Mendenhall stated his scheme is all about effort. If the effort level is established, he says, then whatever he does schematically will come. It's a scheme predicated on effort level and how fast the defense can collectively rush to or cover a given area of the field. Mendenhall's chief concern is with building that certain mentality his defense needs to thrive and play effectively. That priority is No. 1 and Mendenhall is confident the rest will come easily after the mindset is established. The defense is doing a lot more scheme-wise this fall. They're spending a lot of time lately adjusting to the different defensive calls Mendenhall yells out.

Q: What will be the biggest difference between Ken Schmidt and Bronco Mendenhall's defense?

A: Just about everything is different. The biggest difference comes with Mendenhall's use of five defensive backs and how he plays them. What those defensive backs do with every down is hardly constant or consistent. He'll use them in a much greater variety of ways than Schmidt did.

Flexibility will also be one of the biggest differences. Schmidt had his scheme and it varied little from game to game. Mendenhall has stated his scheme will change constantly according to the strengths of whoever they are playing any given week. Furthermore, you'll see much more game-time adjustments and variations during the course of one game. His scheme is very unique and fun to watch.

Q: It's my understanding that Mendenhall's scheme has the corners playing more man-to-man coverage. Wouldn't that be a problem with such teams like USC who has excellent wide receivers?

A: Yes, Mendenhall's scheme calls for more man-to-man coverage from the two gunner positions. However, if it creates an obvious problem, then Mendenhall will adjust as he did last season at New Mexico and go with zone coverage.

Q: What is Mulivai Pula doing and will he ever play for BYU?

A: Pula is no longer in school. Unless he graduates from a junior college, he will not play for BYU or any Division I school. He loves BYU, nonetheless.

Q: Is Chris Hale going to beat out Rod Wilkerson?

A: Hale has looked impressive in practices and scrimmages, but Wilkerson has come on strong lately. Who starts at wide receiver in Crowton's offense isn't has important as it is in other offenses as he rotates six wide-outs consistently. We think it is likely that Hale will be logging at least as many reps as Wilkerson from the XR position when the season starts.

Q: Are the freshmen offensive linemen maintaining their spots?

A: Both Kuresa and Keele are seeing exclusive action with the first-team after almost two weeks of practice.

Q: How are the running backs behind Marcus Whalen coming along?

A: Fahu Tahi performed well in the spring and into the fall, but is still fumbling the ball too much. He's very talented. If he remedies this, he could be very effective.

Reynaldo Brathwaite has seen a lot of reps and Crowton loves the speed element he brings. He's very quick around the edges. The same can be said for Thomas Stancil.

Fui Vakapuna is someone fans should be very excited about. He moves extremely well for a guy his size and is constantly seen outrunning linebackers and even some defensive backs at times out of the backfield. Vakapuna will be used primarily as a fullback, but Crowton intends to use his abilities at tailback position as well.

Q: Is Olomua going to compete for a starting tight end spot?

A: Olomua recently switched to tight end and it's really too early to tell how much he'll be able to contribute this season.

Q: Is Bill Wright vs. Daniel Marquardt a legitimate battle?

A: Not anymore. Marquardt has been moved back to the defensive tackle position.

Q: Is Levi Madarieta stepping it up?

A: Mendenhall stated prior to fall practice that he considered Madarieta as a player at the same level as the other three starting senior linebackers. Madarieta's strength is his pass coverage, but he also showed very effective when blitzing this week's scrimmage. He's learning how to play closer to the line of scrimmage and looks better than he did last season.

Q: Is James Allen pressing to start?

A: Hard to say, but he will play often from the Kat back position. His speed is apparent when he's blitzing and he can make up a lot of ground very quickly – which is essential in playing the Kat position in Mendenhall's scheme. Allen looked great during this week's scrimmage.

Q: Has Shannon Benton started practicing with the team?

A: Benton isn't in Provo yet, but there is really no hurry for him to be since he can't play for another year. Benton will be here for fall semester and will be running with the scout team as he prepares for 2004.

Q: What junior college prospects are the coaches looking at beyond Lutui, Scipio and Flourney?

A: High school recruits are easier to keep track of and identify than junior college recruits. BYU coaches do not – and cannot – share any recruiting information with us. We'll know more in a few months.

Q: What are the differences between Borich and Bradford in coaching the wide receivers?

A: Borich was about as "hands on" as any position coach you'll ever see coaching the receivers. Bradford is very intense as well. Having coached defensive backs extensively, Bradford's strength is teaching the wide-outs what works best against defenders knowing what defensive backs look for and how they're coached. He has stated this is what he focuses on during practices.

Q: Who is not contributing as much as expected?

A: This is not a cop-out, but it's hard to know until they kick it off. Seriously, we couldn't identify even one player that has performed woefully below expectations at this point.

Q: Will the missionary list ever return to TBS?

A: Yes. It's all done, but its part of the new TBS technology adjustments we are making now. Look for it in coming weeks.

Q: What is up with Kish Beverly? Is he still on the team?

A: Beverly is not on the fall roster.

Q: What is the unity between coaches and players like so far this year?

A: It's been great during practices. There have been no fights thus far in practice, but there is definitely a better sense of unity and teamwork to this squad than last season. Just about every player will comment on how there were a lot of players out for themselves last season, but that it's not the case this year.

Q: Any new information on recruits Phil Poloa and Lynwood Johnson?

A: Poloa is a running back recruit from Jordan High School in Utah. He was electronically timed at 4.31 in the forty. We've spoken to his coach who says BYU is actively pursuing him and he has offers from just about every PAC-10 school and many Big-12 schools at this point. Academics could be a problem. Johnson reportedly is not interested in BYU at the current time.

Q: How are the running backs being used?

A: Crowton is considering playing some running backs in the slot this season. Brathwaite will likely be the primary running back used for this formation. He also plans on using a fullback more this season because of Vakapuna's talents.

Q: What will the wide receiver rotation be?

A: Toby Christensen, David Christensen, Jason Kukahiko, Chris Hale and Rod Wilkerson will all be part of the rotation. Guys like Brett Cooper, Matthew Smith, Marc Hansen and Breyon Jones are the next in line for the sixth spot. Ryan Slater is also a guy that Crowton is quick to mention when asked about the receivers. Crowton likes his size and experience.

Q: How is CJ Ah You doing?

A: Ah You is coming along slowly. He has seen some reps with the first team.

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