TBS Fall Practice Report: Day One

Twenty-six newcomers reported to the field, followed soon thereafter by the all of the Cougar veterans. The practice was non-padded and non-contact, but is was was a take-off point for what should be a productive season for the football team as they look to improve upon last year's bowl appearance.

"It felt so good to be out there," said offensive lineman Jake Kuresa, "This is what it's all about. There are no excuses this year. This is it for me and we're going to do everything possible to go out strong. This is it."

Schedule Synopsis

The new players got 30 minutes of time with the coaches before the older players joined in. It was a time for the rookies to get a feel for what practice will be like. They divided in position groups and worked on fundamentals and BYU-specific drills.

"It's definitely different," said true freshman quarterback James Lark. "It's not high school; that's for sure. They work you every bit as hard as they said they would, but I love it. This is what it's all about. It's so fun being out practicing at BYU."

The rest of practice saw the same skill work done in spring and last season. The defensive backs worked on footwork and change of direction drills. The linemen worked mostly on hands drills.

"It's mostly about handwork right now," said Kuresa. "That was the focus today at least. It was fun getting to know the new guys and playing with them after working out with a lot of them all summer, and I'll tell you what, [These new offensive linemen] are going to be good, really good. I've never been more impressed with the new linemen on the team. They've come in sharp and ready to play."

The team then did some 11-on-11 work followed by punt drills where McKay Jacobson, Zac Erekson, Nathan Meikle and Bryce Mahuika all took turns fielding punts. They then divided back into sides and completed practice with a final 11-on-11 drill.

Position Changes and Injuries

Erekson switched from cornerback to wide receiver and caught a nice 25-yard pass from James Lark. On the play, Lark split the coverage and hit Erekson as he streaked through the middle. Brock Hansen made the switch from quarterback to tight end.

Jake Kuresa moved to offensive guard, and Dallas Reynolds was in Kuresa's old right tackle spot. Ray Feinga took the right guard position vacated by Reynolds.

"It was just determined that both me and Dallas are better suited for the positions we switched to, so we're going to try it out for a while," said Kuresa. "The good thing is, if it doesn't work then we can always switch back. I'm further along than he is right now having played guard all through the spring, so it may take Dallas a while to adjust. We'll just see how it goes."

Making a switch does call for changes in technique and responsibilities, which both Kuresa and Reynolds are working through.

"A few things are different," said Kuresa. "The tackle has to concentrate on the width of the pocket, while it's up to the guard to concentrate on the depth of the pocket, but we're adjusting and if we don't, then we'll switch back. We're just working on it becoming second-nature to us regardless of where we're playing in what we do and how we complete our assignments."

On the injury front, freshman cornerback Brandon Bradley tore a ligament in his knee (not his ACL) and will be out for the year with surgery. Fellow cornerback Scott Johnson is also expected to miss the year due to a hernia operation. Safety Michael Moore participated in light drills after injuring his neck.

Early Depth Chart

The ones on the defense today were Judd Anderton and Jan Jorgenson at defensive end with Hala Paongo in the middle. The first team linebackers were Bryan Kehl and Chris Bolden on the outside with Cameron Jensen and Markell Staffieri in the middle. Dustin Gabriel and Quinn Gooch were at safety with the ones and Justin Robinson and Kayle Buchanan were the corners.

The two's consisted of a defensive line of Brett Denney, Russell Tialavea, and Kyle Luekenga. The linebackers were David Nixon and Kelly Poppinga on the outside with Dan Bates on Aaron Wagner on the inside. Ben Criddle and Brandon Howard were the second string cornerbacks and Cole Miyahira and David Tafuna were at safety.

The starting offensive line consisted of Reynolds and Eddie Keele at tackle, Kuresa and Feinga at guard, and Sete Aulai at center. The twos were David Oswald and Nick Longshore at tackle, Erik Freeman and Travis Bright at guard with Tom Sorenson in the middle.

Harvey Unga practiced for the first time today and made his presence known with an impressive 15-yard scamper that he bounced outside to beat the defense to the edge.

"It's all the offensive line," said Unga. "Those guys are monsters. They get the credit for that run. I didn't do anything. It just feels great to be practicing again."

Standout Player

The standout player of the day was outside linebacker Chris Bolden, who recorded three sacks and two hurries in drills. Bolden proved to be very quick off the edges. He gave the offensive linemen, tight ends and running backs fits with his blazing speed around the corners.

"That is what it's going to be every day," said Bolden "It has to be. It's game-time for me. I'm adjusted and ready to roll. I plan on bringing it every day and with every game, so offenses better get used to it."

Other Highlights

The defense had a strong day of practice with numerous defensive backs making plays on the ball.

"That's what it has to be," said senior linebacker Jensen. "We came out strong and I'm happy about that. The intensity was right and we have to get better and not be complacent."

- Tico Pringle stayed stride-for-stride with McKay Jacobson knocking down a pass in the endzone on a fly pattern

- Defensive end Luekenga recorded a sack

- Howard stripped a pass away from Matt Smith on a slant pattern

- Robinson had two impressive pass knockdowns, one when Matt Allen ran an out pattern and the other on an out that was first deflected by linebacker Bryan Kehl

-Safety Corby Hodgkiss knocked down a would-be touchdown pass to Zac Collie over the middle as practice drew to a close

New Quarterbacks

A full cadre of scholarship quarterbacks took the practice field in the form of James Lark, Jacob Bower, Max Hall and Sam Doman.

Hall completed a couple of impressive out patterns to Zac Collie and then to Matt Smith while Lark drew attention on the previously mentioned pass to Erekson.

G-Notes

- JC deep snapper Matt Johnson was not a practice. He is completing coursework and is expected to join the team in a week. Brett Denney handled deep snapping duties today.

- A couple of recruits were in attendance: Austin Childs, a big soon to be junior lineman from Timpanogas and Vaughn Lesuma a monster lineman from San Jacinto Junior College.

- Sete Aulai was sporting the Samoan lumberjack look today with a full beard. The first team center will keep the scuff throughout the year after being diagnosed with razor bumps, which earned him the ever so elusive BYU beard card.

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