One of those players includes converted high school quarterback and true freshman Stephen Covey. Covey played at Kat with the first team defense during today's practice and has had that opportunity for the past couple of days.
"Well, like coach said, there are a lot of guys out right now, so I'm getting my chance to play with the twos and even with the ones like I did today," said Covey. "I feel I'm getting it, I just want to play this year and contribute in any way that I can."
Covey has made his presence known since moving up onto the two-deep roster. He had a very nice play today, knocking down an attempted John Beck pass to Nathan Miekle over the middle, which stalled that drive as it came on third down. Covey credits the help from the seniors for his success. "I just have so many guys helping me out," he said. "Spencer White, Quinn Gooch, Dustin Gabriel and just everybody are always giving me pointers after every single play I run which helps a lot. I'm really thankful to them."
For Covey the adjustment to D-I ball from high school football has only been half the battle, as he is learning to play on the opposite side of the field from where he played in high school. "Working out with the team over the summer really helped," said Covey. "I had the entire summer to work on my technique defensively with some of the veterans and I felt really prepared coming into fall practice."
One of the main things Covey and any other defensive back who plays in Mendenhall's 3-3-5 system must familiarize himself with is the unique coverage scheme which is predicated on disguising coverages inherent within the scheme. In watching a Cougar football game one can readily see the 5 defensive backs standing equidistance from the line of scrimmage forming what coaches and players a like refer to as the "shell."
"The shell is what you have to stay in until the right time where we either break in man coverage, rush the line of scrimmage, drop into zone coverage or whatever," said Covey. "It's a way to disguise what the coverage really is as a secondary to help confuse the quarterback into making a bad read."
What goes on during fall camp and what is the biggest challenge for those learning the new position is knowing when to break the shell. "Yeah, that's probably the hardest part", said Covey. "You want to make a play on the ball and not get beat so bad that you jump and show the coverage a little too soon. Knowing when to break the shell and then going to the spot you're supposed to be and then hopefully make a play is tough, but it's coming a long I think. I'm definitely getting more comfortable with it."
So is the high school phenom quarterback totally converted to the defensive side early on? "I'm getting there," laughed Covey. "I'm really enjoying playing defense. It's so much fun in this system and I feel I'm picking it up. There's still a little bit of offensive mindset to me, but I'm liking defense more and more with every practice, that's for sure."
-The team will scrimmage again tomorrow at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Said Mendenhall: "There are only a number of opportunities before you play a real game in fall where you can actually simulate game tempo for an extended period of time. Usually in practice you take chunks and certain situations that come up during game time, but it's not the same. It gives us a chance as a coaching staff to look at our team and see how the situations are being addressed, which position groups need more work, how the kicking game is coming a long. So it's a gauge to assess what we'll do in the following week."
-Both Joe Griffin and Johnny Harline hauled in short John Beck passes at the back of the end zone for scores.
-Corby Hodgkiss recorded an interception of a John Beck pass
-David Tafuna picked up a fumbled lateral pass out in the flat and returned it for a touchdown