BYU Evening Football Practice Report 8/17

Two-a-days are a grueling time that tests more than the players' physical ability. It tests their mental toughness as well. The coaches are looking for the player who still knows his assignments and is still making plays when he is tired. They want to find the player who they can count on late in the fourth quarter to make the play to help the team win.

This afternoon, however, practice was not as strenuous as the morning session. Special teams were the theme of the afternoon. The Cougars worked on all three aspects of the "third dimension" of football: punting, place kicking and kicking off.

Punts were fielded mainly by Bryce Mahuika and Nate Meikle. The punts were practiced complete with a deep snap from Philip Niu, a full rush and downfield blocking. There was no tackling or fair catching. All the punts were handled cleanly and no punts were blocked, although there were several good rushes. Derek and Jared McLaughlin shared punting duties. The punts were high with good hang time. Their distances weren't known, but fans should take comfort that they weren't of the 22-yard variety seen in the previous day's scrimmage.

The Cougars also worked on kickoffs. Although no kicks would have been good for touchbacks, many of the returns were blown dead around the 20-yard line. Four players were the focus of kick-off returns: Luke Ashworth, Zac Collie, Brett Cooper and Mahuika. Several of those watching wondered how it would feel to be running down on punt coverage and getting blocked by T.J. Sitake, a svelte 275-pound defensive lineman.

Another concern for BYU fans is field goals. Derek McLaughlin seemed to be kicking the most this afternoon. He hit six of seven from 40-yards. The lone miss was a block by Chris Hale, who blocked one this morning as well.

In edition to practicing special teams it was position drills. Defensive back depth was a concern coming into the season. At the rate corners and safeties are getting dinged up, it is even questionable whether the word depth can be used when referring to the secondary this fall camp.

During one drill with the wide receivers, position coach Brian Mitchell had to jump in to give his players enough of a breather between repetitions. He even went up against Todd Watkins twice. Watkins dropped one pass and caught the other. Coach Mitchell did look like he still had some game though. Too bad he does not have any eligibility; the team might have a spot for him.

Freshman cougarback Drew Mugleston was impressive when the players ran through audibles and switches. He was always quick to point out where he needed to be and what the correct play call was. He said the injuries were a concern, but they also provide opportunities for guys to show what they can do. He said he knows what to do because of his film study.

"When I came into camp," Mugleston said, "I didn't know one play. I started at the basics and we've just gotten broader with each repetition. We do it a lot. I still need more. After repetition it starts to get better. It's starting to soak in."

Mugleston did say that there are many more plays than in high school. He has also been impressed with the hard work the other newcomers have been putting in.

Practice Quick Hits:

- Lance Reynolds Jr., who went down this morning during the scrimmage, was out participating with the offensive line drills this afternoon.

- The players were in helmets and shorts, no pads.

- Justin Robinson thought he aggravated a groin muscle. He sat out many of the drills, although he did have one interception when he jumped the receiver's route.

- The effort from the first team defensive backs down to the fourth is the same.

- Joe Griffin, 6'3", had nice grab on a fade route over Brandon Howard, 5'10".


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