BYU Football Practice Report 8/18

BYU Head Football Coach Bronco Mendenhall was pleased with his defense's performance during the 11-on-11 drill at the conclusion of practice. He said the team came with a "workman-like in its approach" to practice.

"They've come to understand our expectations," Mendenhall said. "The consistency will be the same whether it's the middle of two-a-days or not. It's just another day."

The defense held the offense to just two field goals inside the "Blue Zone". This was especially promising to the defensive-minded coach.

"If you talk in terms of results, with points being the ultimate determinant, then it was a better day," he said. "The blue zone defense was better. Holding the offense to only two field goals, I think that was a tell-tale sign of the day of how both sides approached the practice."

The biggest concern for BYU coaches coming into camp was the defensive backfield. Injuries have certainly taken their toll as well. As many as nine players have missed some time with various injuries. Today, however, saw the return of Dustin Gabriel, Quinn Gooch and Cade Hulbert.

Gabriel actually returned to the first-team defense and played well. Both Gooch and Hulbert saw time with the twos. Mendenhall even gave Gabriel some indirect praise.

"I like Dustin Gabriel," he said. "With every day and every rep of experience, he's becoming more instinctual. That ultimately determines that spot, after you've determined that player's ability. The instincts are what determine a great player at that spot. Aaron Francisco had super instincts. Urlacher had super instincts. That just comes through experience."

Hulbert made several plays during the mini-scrimmage. He dropped what should have been an interception and deflected another pass. The performance prompted the following from one coach, "Cade, your dad told me you've never dropped a pass; how did you miss that one?"

Coach Mendenhall was glad to have the players back, though. "Three fresh bodies are always helpful, especially when we were expecting Tafuna and Gooch to be starters on at least on the two-deep," he said. "It was nice to have them out there.

"K.C. Bills is out with a hamstring and Spencer White had his hand operated on yesterday. So we kind of traded two for three. But it was still nice to have fresh bodies out there."

Coach Mendenhall was asked about the strength of the defense. He did not hesitate to respond that the linebackers were the strongest aspect of the defense, thus far through camp.

"Originally, I thought the strength was the defensive line," Mendenhall said. "As camp has played out, I think it's the linebackers. Not only do we have, in my opinion, players that can play up to three deep, from what I've seen up to this point in camp, we have players who can contribute at least in a limited role, like special teams. So we'll probably travel more linebackers than we have in the past. We'll have to look at utilizing them maybe differently than we have before in our scheme."

Following up on its emphasis of Special Teams yesterday, punting was incorporated in the scrimmage. If the offense failed to get a first down, the punt unit was sent out. Derek McLauglin punted four times. He landed two punts inside the 10-yard line. Another punt went close to 50 yards.

As for the kicking game, the head coach said that Jared McLaughlin would be the kicker if the team had a game this week. He said that McLaughlin has separated himself from the other kickers, going so far to say that "at this point it's not close."

OTHER OBSERVATIONS:

- The defense had four sacks during the mini-scrimmage and stopped three rushes in the backfield.

- Corby Hodgkiss and Stephen Covey both saw time with the first-team defense. Mendenhall said that both players were taking full advantage of the opportunities given them.

- Lance Reynolds, who was hurt in yesterday's scrimmage, participated fully today. He did not appear to be suffering from any injury.

- Justin Robinson did not scrimmage, but was on the sideline dressed. He resting an aggravated groin muscle.

- Kyle Leukenga saw time with the ones at defensive tackle and tallied a sack. Aaron Wagner was also with the ones at linebacker.

- There were no turnovers by the offense, although they did punt three times after less than six plays.

- The longest pass play given up was a 30-yard grab by Zac Collie from a scrambling John Beck.


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