This is in addition to the quality tight-ends who are also running routes. Johnny Harline has been on BYU fans' radar screens since spring ball. Daniel Coats is playing extremely well. In fact, I've seen him drop only one pass all camp. One play included a long touchdown on a seam route where he pulled away from defensive backs at the end. It was very reminiscent of the fourth down catch against Georgia Tech he had as a freshman. Vic So'oto and Andrew George, two freshmen, are also playing well and could push for playing time.
With ten days left to prepare for Boston College, Mendenhall should be able to relax somewhat knowing that his defense will not have to pitch a shutout to win. There are still two question mark positions however – offensive line and cornerback.
The defensive backfield injuries are well documented. Players are moving up and down the depth chart on an hourly basis it seems. Today, Nate Soelberg, O'Neil Howell and Brandon Howard all saw time with the first string. Only Chris Hale's shoulder might keep him from playing. To me, watching him practice with that shoulder reminds me of Brandon Heaney from last year.
The offensive line seems to be improving. Scott Tidwell was with the ones at center as Lance Reynolds, Jr. received treatment for his back. He was joined by Jake Kuresa, Dallas Reynolds, Eddie Keele and Terrence Brown.
"As an offensive line, we're trying to focus on pad-level, good foot work and just having good technique, as well as knowing our assignments and executing, which is a lot said Tidwell.
As many as eight linemen have gotten reps with the first squad, but Tidwell thinks that position coach Jeff Grimes wants a smaller rotation.
"I think a lot of the rotation will depend on injuries," Tidwell said. "Our position coach is not one who likes to have tons and tons of players playing – six maybe seven guys he would consider playing in a game. As we get closer I think there will be six or seven who get good reps, but if people go down, you've got to do some shifting around."
Tidwell has been one of those players shifting. He's seen practice time at all three interior positions. As the Boston College game nears, he did say that it's nice that he will not have to go up against Mathais Kiwanuka, a sure-fire NFL first rounder.
"But #94 is good and we'll know where he is," he said. "It'll be fun to see him and Jake Kuresa going head to head. I think Jake will be just fine against him."
Tidwell is also confident that BYU will be able to run the ball, despite its struggles to do so against the 3-3-5 they see everyday. They "have the hogs to move the defensive line" this season.
Today's practice lasted just over 90 minutes as the team "rests" up for tomorrow's full scrimmage in LaVell Edwards Stadium. Of course, by resting they mean getting a good lift in, a two-hour film session and treatment for nicks and bruises and maybe even the occasional dragonfly bite.