BYU's Griffin Awaits Medical OK for Contact Drills

BYU defensive coordinator <b>Bronco Mendenhall</b> focused Monday afternoon's closed practice on three fumble recovery, interception and lateral movement drills – which the first, second and third team units progressively took turns at. Meanwhile, the offense concentrated on route-running and other drills.

In preparation for Tuesday's full pads scrimmage, Crowton kept practice relatively light. "It will be very similar to the last one; maybe just a little bit shorter," Crowton said.

Crowton added that tomorrow's scrimmage would focus on the younger players with the second and third team units. "Our 2s and our 3s will probably take a lot more reps tomorrow. There are a lot of young guys that are very athletic, but are still learning -- especially on defense and with the wide receivers also. You'll probably see a lot of those other guys playing. Probably the 3s will see the most reps," he said.

Meanwhile, defensive tackle Vince Feula and defensive end Michael Marquardt practiced with the first unit this afternoon. "Michael's doing a great job. He'll give us a lot of depth," Crowton commented. "Vince Feula is very solid in the middle. I feel pretty good about those guys. They're not there yet. Hopefully they'll continue to progress. They'll do great two or three plays and then make an error. We just need to get them where they're more consistent. Consistency is something we'll work hard on this next week."

When the defense and offense finished their drills, they ran some 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s to close practice. Wide receiver Todd Watkins again was on the receiving end of a 40-yarder from quarterback John Beck and followed it up later with another one, this time on a post-corner route.

Receiver Matthew Smith practiced again this morning and afternoon with some nice grabs underneath the coverage. Also, Watkins' wide receiver teammate from Grossmont, Joe Griffin, saw action running drills with the 2s and the 3s. "I don't know if they'll allow him to have contact yet, we'll just have to wait and see."

In a post-practice interview, Griffin said, "I definitely want to go. I've been raring to go since I got here. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to tomorrow. I don't know yet, but I'm really hoping. They'll probably be real careful with me, but I want to play at least a little bit."

Griffin looked smooth catching passes from quarterback Matt Berry. He noted that adjusting to Div. 1 football has been a bit of a challenge, but it's something he's been preparing for quite a while. "I've been here since June working out with the guys. I feel I know the quarterbacks well and I think they know me and what I can do," Griffin said.

Griffin reported to off-season voluntary conditioning with fellow BYU teammates in June with a gimpy knee. He didn't think it was serious and just played through it. "I got here in June and then left for a month. During that month, I worked out with a trainer. When I got back to Provo a week before practice, my knee really started to hurt. I mean, the pain really started to get intense. Dr. Kimble did an MRI and we found out I needed it scoped and wouldn't be ready to go when fall practices started."

When asked his thoughts about waiting out his recovery, Griffin said it feels "horrible. It was absolutely horrible. I remember just sitting on the sidelines and I was almost crying because I wanted to be out there so bad.

Griffin's frustration was eased by the presence of Grossmont teammate Watkins. "Todd's my boy, and it's great seeing him play so well in practice. It's not surprising to me at all how well he's doing. I'm so glad he's here with me in Provo. We're both going to do great here."

He also noted a significant difference between junior college and his impressions of BYU. "The quarterbacks are a lot better here. I know they both struggled some last year, but they're (John Beck and Matt Berry) looking great, I think. They're a lot better than anybody I've played with before."

On the defensive side, he has been impressed with Cougar defensive backs. "They're a lot quicker to the ball. I mean a lot quicker. They can cover a lot more ground and they sure do hit a lot harder. It's good playing against them. I think our secondary will be really good."

Like all other new incoming players, the speed of the drills and practices has taken some time to adjust to. "It's fast out there, man. I'm not 100 percent yet and I'm not close to full speed, so it probably even seems faster to me than the others. I feel that I'm doing alright. I've been running routes all my life and I've played two years of JC ball, so I feel that I'm OK there. I know the plays; it's just a matter of getting my feet back so that I can go 100 percent," Griffin said.

With the depth this season at wide receiver, Griffin has a redshirt year and may opt to use it. "I don't want to unless I absolutely have to. I want to play bad, but I don't want to just play three or four reps per game. I don't think it would be worth it to me or the team. If I don't redshirt, then I want to be in the rotation. If I don't get there this year, then I'll probably use my redshirt year."


* Crowton said injured defensive tackles Daniel Marquardt and Manaia Brown will be probable for the Notre Dame game. "Daniel hasn't been practicing, but he knows the defense well, so it won't be hard for him to come back." Asked whether Brown might be an every down player for the season opener, Crowton responded with a succinct "Yes."

* Injured linebacker Lawrence Cowan most likely will not be ready by the start of the season. "He's a ways away. He may be able to join us later in the season. We'll just have to see on that."

* Wide receiver Michael Morris and tight end Philip Niu are being evaluated more closely by the medical staff, but Crowton indicated that Morris most likely will have season-ending surgery.

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