Progression through Opposition

This spring, BYU's football coaches structured practices not only for the development of the position for which they are responsible, but also for the growth of the positions their players will face. This approach created a win-win situation that accelerated the team's progress during the last four weeks.

Like a group of generals at a roundtable meeting, BYU's coaching staff gathers early in the morning to devise training methods to help their charges be the best they can be. Before the season, coaches developed a strategy that was mutually beneficial to the offense and defense. The idea was to have the offensive and defensive units emphasize parts of their game plan that will encourage the opposing unit to develop as well.

"We've got our base package down over spring practice and really have added, as spring practice progressed, more blitz and stunt packages," said BYU inside linebacker Cameron Jensen. "We've done things to give the offense a chance to develop as well as our own defense. I think now it's just becoming a master of our defense."

BYU's defense is very far along in terms of scheme development and implementation, according to Jensen. Coaches have done their homework and on exactly how to maximize the team's development in the time allotted for spring practice.

"The coaches disguise their schemes and every day they have their meetings, which start at around 4:00 in the morning, planning on how to make us better," said BYU receiver Michael Reed. "My hat goes off to this coaching staff and how much they're involved to the smallest detail to make this team the best it can be. They do a great job here. The coaching staff is excellent, and I wouldn't trade them for anyone."

BYU's defense will have a head start going into fall practice because of how much of they learned in the spring. Fall will likely be spent refining rather than expanding the defensive scheme.

"I think we're ready to go into a game type situation right now," said Jensen. "I think when fall comes, it will be pretty much be the same thing. We've pretty much got the defense down, and I don't think there will much more added to it. I think what will happen is we will continue to polish up and become masters of our defense, and that's really what we want to do now.

"I really love this defense. As we continued to learn the new defensive scheme, more was added to our base defense. I think we had like two plays for our base package defense during the beginning of spring practice, but these last two weeks we've been able to add a lot more and become more competitive and give our offense a chance to really develop and improve as well."

Defensive coaches are trying to help the offense by having the defense line up the same way as some of BYU's 2006 opponents. This allows the offense to get an early look at some of the schemes they will face during the upcoming season.

"Basically, Coach Mendenhall will set the defense that might be a defense that we're going to see in the conference," said Reed. "He helps the receivers out by sending his linebackers out to go up and jam the receivers to let them know how game day is going to feel. He does a real good job at disguising their defense. You never know what you're going to get out there. They may drop eight guys or blitz eight guys and you just never know what you're going to get out there because of how they disguise their defense.

"The defense is looking really good, and all the guys on defense are doing a great job. They do those pursuit drills everyday and I don't know if there is any team in the country that does those like we do here. My hat goes off to those guys because they run a lot but I think they've got the edge right now."

The offense also tries to simulate what the defense will see this fall agianst teams like Boston College, TCU and Utah.

"Basically we try to run the ball more because no team in the conference throws the ball as much as we do," said Reed. "We try to give the defense an opportunity to blitz and try to run the ball at them a lot. We also open it up and throw short things here and there to give them a chance to make the adjustments. We do things that not only help us to get better but we also do things to let the defense work on some things as well. We even do things to help the special teams get better because it starts with special teams and ends with the offense and defense."

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