BYU Football Practice Report 8/29

The Cougars began the first week of regular season practices, preparing to meet Boston College in just five days. While the team practiced in full pads today, the rest of the week will be consist of light contact as the scout team simulates the offensive and defensive formations of the Eagles.

"We're now preparing for the schemes we'll face on both sides of the ball which is quite a bit different than what we've been practicing against," said Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall. "We'll simulate as much as we can the opponent's looks."

"We're excited," added linebacker Aaron Wagner. "Practicing is necessary, but it gets old. We're so ready to go and play against another team. I feel we're prepared, but you never really know until that first hit."

Regarding whether the first-year head coach feels his team is ready to take on the 22nd ranked team in the nation, Mendenhall responded: "I don't know. I don't have a reference point as the head coach. I can speak defensively, but even that's different now that it isn't my only focus. I think this team is willing. The execution and the consistency are growing. I'm optimistic, but I know we can get better."

Boston College presents a rush-heavy attack with a veteran offensive line that will throw in an occasional play-action pass to keep opposing defenses off-guard.

"Defending against [Boston College's] offense is what we're focused on this week and is a main focus for us in the secondary", said cougarback David Tafuna, "We're confident we can stop the run, it's just making sure we defend well against the pass."

"They have a good running attack and they're physical up front," explained Wagner. "They're probably going to try and run it down our throats, but we think we can stop them. They're not necessarily real physical when watching them on film, but they fire off the ball well and hold their blocks well making you go where you don't want to go. They'll be a challenge, but I think we're up for it."

Since fall practices started, the concerns in the secondary have been compounded by a rash of nagging injuries to players such as KC Bills, Quinn Gooch, Chris Hale, Justin Robinson, Kayle Buchanan, Dustin Gabriel and others.

"It's been a challenge not knowing who is playing behind us every day of practice, but they're getting back and we have to believe that they'll make plays," said Wagner.

Side Notes

-Cougarback Dustin Gabriel practiced and is believed to be ready for Saturday's game. Cornerback Kayle Buchanan did not practice and is listed as questionable.

-Chris Hale and Nate Soelberg got the majority of the reps with the 1s at cornerback while Robinson and O'Neil Howell saw a few reps with the first unit.

-YR receiver Phillip Niu is done for the season with a stress fracture in his foot. He'll be replaced by Justin Luettgerodt in his long-snapping duties while Mendenhall mentioned that Vic So'oto and Andrew George are the two players being looked at to fill his void at the YR position.

-Brian Sanders will start Saturday and for the rest of the season barring injury, but won't be practicing much. "He has a knee that is basically bone on bone," said Coach Mendenhall. "He'll require an alternative practice schedule. Brian has a lot of experience, we've just had to acknowledge that there is no way he can meet the practice demands and play in the games."

-The team held try-outs for walk-ons earlier this morning and the list of those who made it and will likely run with the scout team all fall includes, Shawn Mosman, Ben Criddle, David Neilson, Michael Nielson, Steve Ulmer, Rex Doman, Trent Griffith, Troy Sheide, Greg Mortenson, Mark Matthews, Greg Wheeler, and Travis Epperson, among others. Said assistant coach Paul Tidwell concerning what is ahead for the walk-ons: "A lot of work, a lot of work with the scout team where they'll get beat up and pushed around. They'll pay their dues."

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