Cougar Off-season Snapshot

The BYU basketball team has been occupying the headlines in recent months, but that does not mean that the football team has been out of action. So what have the gridiron warriors been up to? How are the returned missionaries and other newcomers doing? The G-man runs down how the big stories are playing out so far this off-season.

The season never ends for a Cougar football player. Sure, there are weeks off here and there, but in this day and age, prepping for the upcoming season is a year-long process that begins often weeks after the season ends and continues until kickoff on the next opening day.

The daily regimen usually involves weightlifting and conditioning drills followed by a round of skellies (seven-on-seven scrimmages). Coaches cannot attend these workouts so it is up to the players to assure that everything is in order. During these off-season, certain players come to the forefront and new leaders begin to assert themselves.

Austin Collie

First and foremost in most fans' minds is the status of Austin Collie, who starred during his true freshman year before serving an LDS mission in Argentina. Collie has been back since January and has had a lot of work to do to get himself back into shape.

The initial reports were not all that glowing for Collie, which is to be expected from just about any recently returned missionary. Collie had pounds to shed, routes to become familiar with again, and generally had to work himself back into football shape if he was to compete this coming season let alone during spring practices.

Now that spring practices are about two weeks away, Collie should be raring to go. He has dropped at least 10 pounds and is now 210, which is merely 10 pounds away from where coaches believe his ideal playing weight should be. Collie has become Max Hall's primary option in skeleton drills and has the burst and the flare back that defined him during his true freshman season. Cougar fans can rest assured that Collie will compete and compete hard from day one of spring practices.

Linebackers

Two young linebackers who have really started to make waves this off-season are Shawn Doman and Austen Jorgensen. Doman's emergence should not be a surprise to those who follow the team closely as he had his share of stellar moments playing mainly during passing situations a season ago. Doman is only getting better and should see more time this coming year playing inside linebacker.

Jorgensen mean while was able to transfer midyear from high school and looks to be a guy who could make a serious push this coming year to break the two-deep depth chart. Players have raved about Jorgenson's effort and ability mentioning that he has David Nixon-type speed from the outside. Jorgensen will be playing outside linebacker initially as spring practices begin.

Kelly Poppinga has made the switch to inside linebacker where he will likely start alongside Markell Staffieri giving the Cougars a wealth of experience at every linebacker spot for next season.

Filling in at Field Corner

Replacing Justin Robinson at the field cornerback position will be one of the battles receiving a lot of focus starting this spring. Right now pencil in Brandon Howard as the guy to beat out at this position. Howard has steadily improved since day one and the field corner position is likely going to be his to lose when spring practices commence.

Howard is a guy who has all the ability, but needs to develop the right CB instincts and attitude before he will be able to make a serious impact. It is readily been apparent for at least a year now that Howard has the quickest feet on the team, which he shows consistently as the DBs run through their drills. Look for Howard to have a big spring as he continues to develop. What is most important is that his teammates have expressed a lot of confidence in him, which counts for a lot.

Quarterbacks

It is really hard and really unfair to handicap the quarterback race at this point as Cade Cooper and Brendan Gaskins have received no direct coaching from Brandon Doman and only have the other players to rely on to develop and to learn the offense up to this point. That said, they both will have a steep hill to climb if they are to match or even beat out Max Hall this spring and into the following season.

Hall has shown the leadership and skill to do very well next season. We will obviously be watching the quarterback battle in earnest from day one of spring practices as no one really knows how Cooper and Gaskins will fare. It should be noted that Sam Doman will again compete at quarterback as spring practices commence.


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