BYU Football Practice Report 8/27

BYU coaches turned Saturday into Tuesday today. During the regular season, Tuesday practices are the most physical and demanding for Cougar players as they prepare for Saturday game days. This Saturday, Cougar coaches held a typical Tuesday practice, trying to get as much possible preparation in for the season opener against Boston College.

There was special sense purpose and intensity on the practice field today. The team has found the urgency that Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall mentioned previously in fall camp. There was a flurry of activity throughout practice as players shouted words of encouragement and correction to each other.

The offense looked crisp in all of its drills. John Beck had the first team moving well in every situation he faced. Throughout camp, one noticeable difference relative to last year is the number of receivers that are catching passes. In 2004 Todd Watkins and Austin Collie were clearly the focus of the offense. This year, it would be hard to argue that any one receiver is the focal point.

Cougar fans should be encouraged to hear that the defense is showing improvement, particularly as the ranks of the injured are diminishing. Today several players who had missed practice time recently were back to full participation on the practice field including Justin Robinson, Kayle Buchanan, Lance Reynolds, Jr., and Jake Kuresa.

Unfortunately, Buchanan was sidelined again during drills. Dustin Gabriel, Spencer White, Hala Paongo, Nate Hutchinson, and Judd Anderton were still doing rehab work during practice.

As for those injured Cougars, Coach Mendenhall indicated that the players that have experience in the system will be more likely to see time against Boston College if they can get healthy next week.

"A lot of [getting to play] has to do with their previous history and my trust level with them prior to their injury," said Coach Mendenhall.

Mendenhall singled out White as a player who has enough experience to come back and contribute.

Coaches have also made almost all of the redshirt assignments. Much of the scout team offense and defense today were made up of these redshirt players. Coach Mendenhall had a group meeting with all of the players who were tolde they would be redshirting, and then after the meeting he met individually with any players who still wanted to discuss their position with the team. Coach Mendenhall noticed a marked difference in the attitude among the redshirting players as a result of the meetings.

"I think as was reflected from Friday's scout work in the improvement I saw in today's scout work, these players will eventually accept their role and settle as they come to terms with their redshirt or scout role," said Mendenhall. "It is one of the most difficult times in a college football player's career."

Most of the new scholarship and walk-on players will be redshirting this season. Coach Mendenhall pointed out that many of these incoming players had aspirations of playing, but now are faced with a reality that is less than what they had hoped for. One of the purposes of meeting with these players is to convey to them the vital importance of the preparatory role they will play each week on the scout teams.

Luke Ashworth, Dallas Reynolds, Bryan Kehl and Derek McLaughlin are among the group of new players that will not be redshirting. Coach Mendenhall indicated that the verdict was still out on Vic So'oto, Stephen Covey and Jan Jorgensen. The status of those three players will be decided in three weeks when the Cougars make their first road trip and have to formulate a travel roster.

Students will pour onto campus on Monday, and over 50 of them will be trying out for the 11 walk-on spots available on the team. Each week in practice, those 11 players, along with the new redshirts, will take on the role of the offense and defense of the Cougars' next opponent. The better these walk-ons and redshirts do their job, the better the Cougars will be prepared come game time.

While BYU's campus will fill on Monday, LaVell Edwards Stadium will be the happening place this Saturday as over 65,000 fans are anticipated to pack the Cougars' home field.

When asked what the fans in attendance at BYU home games can do to help give their team a true home field advantage, Coach Mendenhall's response focused on having the fans return to the tradition of the past.

"I'd like to see [the fans] show up to LaVell Edwards Stadium out of respect for the tradition of the program and the man its named after," he said. "I hope the team plays in a manner that is respectful of that and up to that standard. I hope the fans show up and are worthy of being in that stadium. There's a tradition of fan support as well. Maybe it's time for our students and others to reclaim what it's supposed to be like in that stadium as well. I wasn't here when that happened, but I have in my mind what it was like.

"I think [home field advantage] is a true love of your team and a true belief that they are doing things the right way and representing those fans in the right way. With that they share support from their heart and not from a superficial level, not showing up waiting to see what happens, but believing that their team are true representatives of what they want."

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