Finding the Right Defensive Combinations

Fall camp is more than half way over and no one on the defensive line or in the secondary has been able to separate himself as a clear cut starter. The good news for Cougar fans is the lack of a standouts comes from everyone is raising their level of play together, rather than the whole group struggling.

During today's BYU football practice, freshman Russell Tialavea was manning the middle of the first team D-line with senior Hala Paongo moved out to the end. Freshman Ian Dulan cracked the first team line of defense to start this mornings scrimmage. Redshirt freshman Jan Jorgensen joined Romney Fuga and Kyle Luekenga on the second team defensive line. Jorgensen applied pressure from the outside, which caused Jason Beck to get rid of the ball early on several occasions.

On today's third team D-line, Matangi Tonga joined Mosese Foketi and Judd Anderton. Like Jorgensen, Anderton had a great first two weeks of fall camp as he got good pressure on John Beck. The movement on the defensive line shows that the unit is deep with young talented players who the coaches want to develop by playing them with more experienced players.

On the day, Foketi recorded a sack and a tackle for a loss. Matangi Tonga also had a sack, and Russell Tialavea applied pressure up the middle three times on the day.

With 14 days of fall come and gone and nine days left to work out the details, the assessment of the defensive line situation is a good problem to have.

Stone Cold Linebackers

Cameron "The General" Jensen is the lone island in swirling sea of linebackers. Markell Staffieri is still sitting out of contact drills as he nurses a leg injury, so players are jostling for his inside spot. Bryan Kehl is very close to locking down one of the outside jobs, but there are three linebackers capable of playing opposite him.

Outside linebacker Chris Bolden started off fall camp with three sacks and two quarterback hurries. Since then the offensive line has adjusted to his quick and shifty play. Within the last week, Utah State transfer Kelly Poppinga's stock has risen at the outside linebacker's spot with his physical and aggressive play. Poppinga has been very consistent and has made his case for a full time job. He is currently getting half the reps with the first team defense.

David Nixon is another outside linebacker who raised his level of play. With every day of practice, he is further removed from his mission in Central America and closer ot his pre-mission condition.

Each outside linebacker brings a different set of skills that BYU coaches will be ale to use during specific in-game situations. Nixon and Bolden bring speed around the corner as does Bryan Kehl, who recorded a sack during today's morning scrimmage.

Click on the following link to hear Kelly Poppinga talk about the development of the linebackers this fall.

Of Note

Walk-on safety Corby Hodgkiss also had a pass break up to keep a tight end from coming down with a pass for a touchdown as well. Kellen Fowler made the lone interception on the day when he grabbed a desperation pass attempt by Max Hall.

Jason Speredon was out walking around today following practice. He walked with a slight limp but with no crutch or walker.

"I just had an MRI on it today," Speredon said. "The doctors said there was some infection in there from some of the staples there were in there. They took those out and gave me some antibiotics today. They said the healing is going good and that everything is progressing well. I'm expecting to get back to 100%."

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