Spring Practice Report Day 10

The Cougar defense came to play today. The D-line, linebackers and secondary all found their way into the offensive backfield during scrimmages. The cornerbacks and safeties also made plays on passes all over the field. The offense did have its moments, but the day unquestionably belonged to the defense.

Two of the big stories this spring practice are the limiting effect of the injuries to both offensive and defensive lines and the depth of talent at running back. BYU Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall spoke to both of those issues after practice today.

Coach Mendenhall pointed out that the most significant effect of the lack of depth on the lines is the reduced number of reps the team can handle in scrimmages. The intense and lengthier scrimmages will have to wait until fall ball when injured players return and new recruits come to campus.

"As you saw there were three drives today that finished practice; it would be nice if that was seven drives rather than three, but the volume of players is not allowing us to have the volume of teamwork that we would like to have," explained Mendenhall. "We'll have to assimilate some of that in the fall, which is more risky for injury during two-a-days. There is a certain number of plays that you have to develop your team so the volume is something we will not be able to achieve, but we are developing a scheme on defense we feel really good about and we're adding precision and poise and confidence on offense."

The concern at running back is not the lack of bodies, but rather, what to do with all the talent at the position. BYU has 1000-yard rusher Curtis Brown returning and then four super sophomores backing him up. Three years from now what was the deepest position on offense will become the shallowest spot. That leaves coaches with two options: take care of the problem through recruiting or try to fix it with redshirting. Whatever approach he takes down the road, Coach Mendehall is enjoying his offensive backfield right now.

"We will probably address it through recruiting," said Mendenhall. "Whether redshirting or not, whether injury or not, those things will kind of play out but what decision we'll make this upcoming year I'm not certain yet, but as of right now I like the depth."

Earlier in the spring, Coach Mendenhall mentioned that he would find his starting cornerbacks first and then look for his starting safeties. His comment seemed to imply that the players who were not selected as first team corners would be considered for the safety spots. Although the secondary was not hit with the injury bug like other positions, the decision on the starting corners, and therefore the starting safeties will not be made until the fall when key recruits arrive.

"We have three corners coming: Andre Saulsberry, Brandon Bradley and Robbie Buckner," said Coach Mendenhall. "We'll see how they do and then we'll figure out what we'll do after that."

Practice Notes:

- The team practiced punts and punt returns with light contact. Bryce Mahuika and McKay Jacobson were the return men. Mahuika had a good thirty-yard return and Jacobson put on a show by returning two punts for touchdowns. "It was fun, but you have to expect to have success against the scout team," said Jacobson of his returns.

- Zac Collie had a couple of nice catches. On one play, he made a leaping grab of a John Beck sideline pass. On another play, Collie broke open deep to haul in a Jason Beck pass. Collie had to slow up for the slightly under-thrown pass, which allowed safety Aaron Gordon to catch him from behind 40 yards downfield.

- Walk-on fullback Joe Semanoff made a pretty one-handed grab of a swing pass, which he took upfield for a five-yard gain.

- The first drive of the full contact scrimmage included two strong runs for 20 and 10 yards by Curtis Brown and a 12-yard touchdown reception by Daniel Coats.

- The highlight of the second drive was the afore mentioned 40-yard Beck-Collie pass. After that, the defense stiffened.

- Quinn Gooch made a great play on an outside run by Fui Vakapuna. Gooch came up in run support and forced the bigger Vakapuna to the outside where Brett Denney flew in to finished him off.

- Bryan Kehl and Chris Bolden both had quarterback sacks. Jan Jorgensen tackled running back Wayne Latu in the backfield for a five-yard loss.

- Not to be outdone by their bigger teammates, the defensive secondary shut down the offense's third and final drive. Cole Miyahira had back-to-back sacks of John Beck. After a 15-yard Jacobson end around, Ben Criddle had excellent coverage on a deep route by Collie. While staying stride for stride with Collie, Criddle turned his head, located the ball and knocked the incoming pass out of the air. Miyahira finished the scrimmage by making an athletic play on third down to bat away what would have been a completion from Beck to Collie for a first down.


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