The Pads Come Off for BYU

Cougar practices these days resemble a conditioning boot camp more than a typical football practice. The boys in blue left their pads in the locker room again today, as they will finish this week doing conditioning drills along with speed and agility exercises. For the players, this one last respite before the sprint to the finish.

"This is a great time for us," said senior offensive lineman Jake Kuresa. "We're just sort of chilling right now and enjoying life which is something we haven't been able to do since July. It's giving us a chance to really focus on school work, get ready for finals along with some other stuff."

It is not a complete recess as the team is required to put in an several hours of training each day, but nothing compared to what they had to do during the season. The Cougars are using this time to let their bodies heal before they close out with eight full practices to prep for their match-up against Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Things are so low key that a few Cougars even found time to get married. Dallas Reynolds, Jonny Harline, and Markell Staffieri all tied the know during the last week.

"That was great to take time to go to Salt Lake and see those guys get married," said Kuresa. "We're going to take some more time this week to go to some movies, go see the lights at Temple Square and other stuff, so yeah, it's been really nice."

So is the team actually working out or are the players just bringing out lounge chairs to the Indoor Practice Facility and "chilling" in style?

"Oh no, we're working hard, we're working real hard," answered Kuresa. "It's just a different type of work now. It's not like in the season where we're spending a lot of time watching film, reading over game-plans and all that stuff, but we're still working hard."

Indeed, the end of today's workout saw more than one player hunched over a garbage can coughing their lungs (and stomach contents) out following an intense regimen of speed and agility drills tailored for each position. The team is doing their best to keep in shape before they strap the pads back on for intense game-prep against Oregon which is just around the corner.

"It's a lot of conditioning," explained senior linebacker Cameron Jensen. "It's hard work. We're allowing our bodies to be healed up a little bit in a football aspect, but it's still hard out there for sure. I love it and it feels great. It's hard to keep your conditioning up during the season, so it's great to be up there to catch up. I love it. It feels refreshing catching up with conditioning while our bodies heal."

"It's all about keeping our bodies ready to play Oregon," said Kuresa. "When you go through a season, your body starts to feel it, so we're not hitting or anything right now. It's just all about conditioning. I already feel so much better than I did last week. I'm able to do so much more in drills now that I had some time off, and we'll be ready to go against Oregon, that's for sure. This will really help us."

So is no preparation for Oregon going on right now? Are the Cougars completely leaving Oregon on the back-burner only to cram for them starting next week?

Jensen being ever the football-junkie mentioned that he is watched a lot of film on Oregon.

"It wasn't required and we haven't done it as a team, but I've watched a lot of film on Oregon on my own," he said. "What I see with them is that they're extremely good and capable offensively. They have a great running back and they're going to be a challenge."

Out of Town

During today's workout, most of the head coach Bronco Mendenhall's staff were absent. Recruiting now comes into focus as assistant coaches Robert Anae, Patrick Higgins, Barry Lamb, Jaime Hill, Jeff Grimes and Steve Kaufusi were apparently out on the road.

Injury Front

Cornerbacks Ben Criddle and Justin Robinson both did not work out today as they're both day-to-day with their respective injuries. Robinson is expected to play while Criddle will be evaluated further in the days ahead.

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