Spring Practice Day Three

BYU's practice today was easily the most spirited and intense session this spring. The team went full contact in drills for the first of what some players call "real practices." Now that the pads are on, players will have a chance to aggressively pursue starting roles.

"That's the real deal out there," said defensive lineman Kyle Luekenga. "That's football out there—hitting guys and getting down and dirty. Man, that was tough, probably the hardest practice I've ever had in my life, certainly since high school, but that's what it's all about."

Unlike Luekenga who has a season under his belt, defensive tackle Russell Tialavea has no reference point to which he can compare his experience. The last time Tialavea practiced with pads was in high school two seasons ago.

"I'm learning," he said. "It's tough man. Our OL is one of the best in the country, so we're learning real good. You just have to take it one day at a time."

For linebacker Bryan Kehl today's practice could not have been better.

"It's just beautiful, 60 degree weather, hitting guys, taking on blocks, going as hard as you can," said Kehl. "What better way to spend a day? You can't beat it. It feels great."

"I think it went well," said BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall. "We controlled a lot of the aggression because of the fundamentals we still need to work on. A lot of times with the first time in pads when we allow too much contact we do it at the expense of some of the teaching, so we're going about teaching fundamentals and execution more than we may have in the past."

Another reason limiting the contact may be the lack of depth along the offensive and defensive lines this spring. There are only nine able bodies on the offensive line and only six scholarships players on the defensive front.

"We're not very deep right now," said Mendenhall, "We have to control the volume of reps this spring because our emphasis is to be ready for Arizona the first game this fall. So there is a delicate balance between allowing this team to develop and limiting the amount of contact we do to keep this team healthy. That's just the nature of who we are right now."

Practice Notes

- Quarterback John Beck was extremely sharp in drills throughout practice. In the final drive which ended the practice, Beck went 9-11 for 67 yards unofficially. One of his two incompletions was a strike that the normally sure-handed Zac Collie dropped in the end zone.

- Fui Vakapuna and Manase Tonga returned to practice today with both players catching passes from Beck on the final 11 on 11 drill. Vakapuna also had on rush for five yards.

- The defensive standouts included Bryan Kehl with a couple of tackles in the backfield for losses. He also hurried the quarterback several times with an effective pass rush. Both Quinn Gooch and Kelly Poppinga recorded interceptions while David Nixon forced a fumble as he hit Vakapuna in the backfield.

- Michael Reed was a primary target in the final set of reps catching three of Beck's passes for 22 yards.

- The offensive linemen seeing reps with the first team included David Oswald and Eddie Keele at the Tackle positions, Jake Kuresa and Dallas Reynolds at guard with Jeff Rhea at center. Sete Aulai rotated in frequently playing both guard and center.

- After started at right tackle last year, Kuresa has seen almost exclusive reps at right guard this year. "It's just an experimentm," said Kuresa about the move. "I'm learning both positions just in case. We want to have our best five offensive linemen on the field regardless of position and it just works out now that to do that has me at guard."

- The special teams worked on punt coverage. Nathan Meikle, McKay Jacobson and Bryce Mahuika all took turns fielding punts.

- Both Justin Robinson and Kayle Buchanan sat out today's practice due to illness.

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