BYU Spring Practice Day 2

The switch to the 3-4 defense has been the talk of spring practices thus far. While the new formation and the new coach running the defensive backs in that formation are the most obvious difference this spring, there a few other things that Coach Mendenhall and his staff are doing differently.

A Different Pursuit

As Bronco Mendenhall has been married to the 3-3-5 so too has he been married to starting every single practice with the now famous pursuit drill which often leaves more than one defensive player gasping for air while trying to keep his lunch in his stomach. Through the first couple of days the defense has ended with the pursuit drill.

"The number one reason why we're ending with the pursuit drill is because of position mastery," said Mendenhall. "There is some inexperience on our defense and we think that extra time devoted toward being masters of what they do is necessary due to that inexperience."

The drill calls for three and sometimes four groups of 11 players at every position to run out to their positions an wait for Coach Mendenhall to blow his whistle at which point the players pursue to a particular point in the field. The Cougar head coach then chases the group of 11 to that spot which is interrupted at least three times by Bronco blowing his whistle which calls for each player to dive on the ground and then get up and run again.

If any single player in a group is caught lagging, then the entire group is often called upon to do that drill again. The drill gets the player's juices flowing immediately and can take a lot out of them, which is something Mendenhall is also addressing in regards to ending instead of starting with his pursuit drill.

"Another factor is the possible injuries," said Mendenhall, "I'm not sure if it was a factor with the hamstring injuries that we had last year with us starting too fast or not, but we're doing it right now to experiment and see if we can come out of spring practices more healthy. We don't want to get anybody hurt, especially in the spring."

Indoors in the Spring?

Last season one of the things reporters mentioned often is that even in blizzard conditions, Mendenhall practiced outdoors none-the-less. Now with mild temperatures for the first two days of spring ball, Mendenhall has opted to practice indoors.

"Teaching emphasis is the focus right now, and continuity," said Mendenhall. "So coming out and doing relatively the same things indoors that we did yesterday was what we wanted to focus on. I don't anticipate us being indoors come Thursday if the weather is nice like it is today."

It's Easy Being Green

Gone are the familiar red jerseys worn in practice by quarterbacks to signify to defensive players that they are not to be hit. Cougar signal callers are now sporting green.

So why the switch? "We wanted the green last year and the shipment just didn't come in," said John Beck. "We knew this year we'd be in green shirts and I think we all like wearing green a lot better than we do wearing red."

For Beck steering clear from the color red is something that he has practiced religiously since he became a BYU Cougar.

"I don't like red," said Beck. "It was my color in high school, but it isn't now. I don't buy red shirts, I don't buy red hats, I don't buy red anything. I don't want to wear red unless I absolutely have to. Green is better than red, anything is better than red."

Practice Notes

- It was a helmets and no pads practice again today. The team worked on kickoff coverages in holding with Coach Mendenhall's determination to practice special teams daily. Justin Robinson, Brandon Howard, Nathan Meikle, Brett Cooper and McKay Jacobsen all took turns returning kickoffs.

- True freshman McKay Jacobsen had several nice receptions. He made several diving catches and showed his speed by separating from cornerbacks by nearly five yards in on deep patterns.

- Fui Vakapuna and Manase Tonga were both again absent from practice with the flu. Both are expected to join the team in practice on Thursday.

- 2006 signee Ryan Freeman was in attendance along with future recruit Houston Reynolds. A set of brothers Cougar fans should keep their eye on were in attendance in the form of Logan and Morgan Malohfo'ou. Both are lineman for Copper Hills high school in West Jordan, Utah. Logan started last season on both sides of the ball as a sophomore while Morgan will be doing the same this season as he is set to begin his sophomore year. Logan and Morgan are 6-foot-7, 240 and 6-foot-3, 285 respectively.

- Todd Watkins was in attendance watching his former teammates. Watkins is running track and was recently timed at 21.02 in the 200 meters. Watkins is working hard at keeping his weight up over 200 pounds. "I'm eating like a lineman," said Watkins. "I was so excited at the combine when I weighed in at 202. That was just awesome, I've never weighed that much in my life."

- Several defensive standouts today included Tico Pringle knocking down a pass thrown to Ryan Neely on an out pattern of 15 yards and Quinn Gooch intercepting a Jason Beck pass.

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