BYU Practice Report 8/12/05

Since Robert Anae installed a new offense in spring practice, most of the attention and press have been focused on the offensive players' progression. However, half of the players still line up on the defensive side of the ball and Bronco's 3-3-5 system is still there with players advancing and getting better with every day of practice.

"Yeah, we all know it's that way being BYU," laughed senior Katback Spencer White "Offense always gets the most attention, but we're all on the same team. We're okay with it, though. We're excited as well about the new offense and what they'll be able to accomplish this year."

"We're progressing and getting better with every practice," added middle linebacker Cameron Jensen. "One thing I've noticed so far is that we're more intense. We're blitzing a lot better and with the linebackers our wraps are a lot better. As long as I've been here it's never been as precise as it is now."

The defense came out today and held the offense out of the end zone during the practice-ending scrimmage. One drive was shut down when Nate Soelberg intercepted a bobbled pass to Joe Griffin, ending the offense's best chance to score. "We held them out of the end zone today, which is the most important thing to do as a defensive unit," said Jensen,

"We felt great out there today, at least I did," commented White. "Guys made plays and I was satisfied with how we did as a unit for the most part. Of course, there's always stuff we need to work on, but I like our intensity today."

"We have a long way to go, but I like where we're at as a unit so far," said Jensen. "As far as blitzing, we're a lot better. They had one long run on us today, but we stopped them for the most part. I think we had a pretty good day."

The secondary in particular has the task of breaking in new players who hope to contribute this coming year to help the team as a whole. White recognizes this and has taken it upon himself to teach these guys as best he can.

"My role has definitely changed this year," he said. "Last year I looked to Jon [Burbidge] and Aaron Francisco a lot, but this year I have to take the role they had last year in being a leader and helping guys progress."

White has been vocal in working with the incoming freshmen, recently returned missionaries and JC transfers, yelling instructions and encouragement at every turn during the drills.

"I'm being more vocal, that's for sure," said White. "I just know what helped me when I was trying to fit in and learn the system and I'm trying to help them they same way I was helped."

"Short in numbers, short in ability and short in experience," thas is how Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall described the secondary after spring ball. "Somebody will step up [during fall practice] and they will play. The system allows for that. Who it is and who it's going to be? I don't know yet."

Mendenhall also stated that the pressure of the defensive front will go a long way in alleviating some of the coverage concerns the secondary may have as a whole.

"A lot has been made of our pass defense last year, but I would attribute it to a lack of pressure, our intensity and how we went after the quarterback," he said. "It's a combination. We're a pressure defense and we always will be."

Practice Notes:

-Several incoming players went through the drills with the third team, including Kyle Leukenga at Nose Tackle, Terrance Hooks at middle linebacker, Stephen Covey and Drew Mugleston at safety, and Justin Robinson and Zac Erekson at corner.

-Bryce Mahuika, Nathan Meikle, Saia Hafoka and Justin Robinson all took turns fielding punts.

-Andrew George stood out in drills making a couple of spectacular grabs against first-teamer Spencer White, using his bigger body against good coverage both times. George also got a lot of reps during the final scrimmage catching three short out patterns.

-The best offensive play of the scrimmage was a 28-yard post corner pass from John Beck to Michael Reed. Reed hauled it in without breaking stride against good coverage right before going out of bounds. Beck again hooked up with Reed for a 12 yard completion on an out pattern.

-Johnny Harline was very active during the scrimmage, catching three passes for about 24 yards.

-Todd Watkins lined up against true freshman Brandon Howard on one occasion as Howard showed press coverage lining up less than two yards opposite Watkins. John Beck immediately audibled, and went to Watkins streaking down the field. Howard stayed with Watkins relatively well on the slightly underthrown ball, but gave up the catch when Watkins twisted around and made the reception over Howard's head while the defender was still looking downfield.

-Both Nate Soelberg and Justin Robinson had interceptions. Robinson's pick came on a pass where the wide receiver quit his pattern and Robinson stepped right in for the turnover.

-Katback Corby Hodgkiss performed well on several occasions, including a play where he upended Curtis Brown coming out of the backfield on a swing pass.

-K.C. Bills had two sacks, while Daniel Marquardt, Aaron Gordon and Manaia Brown each had a sack each had one.

-Scott Tidwell saw reps with the first team at right guard in the place of Terrance Brown today. Brown ran with the second team with Sete Aulai on the other side at left guard.

-Chris Hale played very well in coverage with the ones staying step-for-step with Watkins on a fly pattern, before batting down the pass. He also jumped several short routes where he knocked the ball away.

-The team practiced field goals and formations for the first time today.

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