Question: Are the quarterbacks graded on just the twenty or so plays they're given for each given practice or are there other factors such as audibles and plays outside of the playbook that they're graded on as well? For example, when Hall and Cooper went deep was this part of their grade if it was outside the playbook or was it part of the play-set they ran that day?
Answer: It's never a short question with Rex, but I'd expect nothing less than an excellent essay to be submitted from one of our most active and insightful posters.
It's hard to know just what plays being run are part of the plan or if the players go outside of the playbook in any scrimmage or practice. It's known that the entire playbook is in, so one is to assume that the whole playbook is available during most scrimmages whereas that certainly isn't the case for most practice sessions.
Audibles are kept to a minimum and I'm sure the long passes you referenced were indeed part of the game plan. Although Max Hall and Cade Cooper may have had another primary receiver on both plays, they recognized single coverage downfield and took advantage of it. I'm sure that both plays were given a high grade after they reviewed the film.
Question: Given the lack of touchdowns by this years offense, how do you think they will compare to last years offense? I am concerned that they may be much weaker than the offense was last year.
Answer: Although the offense has struggled recently in practices, assuming that they're scoring less touchdowns this year compared to last isn't a correct assumption. The offense came out smoking and it's been noted by players and coaches that the offense is in fact ahead of last year's pace of putting the ball into the end zone during spring practices.
When you lose players of the caliber of John Beck, Curtis Brown, Jonny Harline and others, it's very logical to assume that the offense will be weaker the following year. I've personally been impressed and a bit surprised at the offensive production thus far. Every sign indicated that the defense would completely dominate the first week of spring, but that wasn't the case at all. We'll see if it continues.
Question: Is Nate Hutchinson's switch from DB to WR because he has more talent in that position or because we were set at DB or something else?
Answer: I talked to Nate just prior to spring practices and he informed us that out of high school BYU was actually the only school that recruited him as a defensive back. All other schools wanted him as a wide receiver. Although he's played cornerback each of the past 2 years he feels that receiver is his best position and where he'll be able to contribute most.
It's definitely a good sign that coaches can switch a guy like Hutchinson from playing cornerback at BYU. I don't have to tell you that cornerback has traditionally been a relatively weak position at BYU. The fact that they're able to move Hutchinson over to WR I think speaks to the increased depth and overall talent at the cornerback position.
Question: 1. Which of the tight ends have looked the best so far?
2. Based on what you have seen, who do you expect to start at Corner with Criddle?
Answer: The tight ends were heavily involved during the first day of practice, but haven't seen much work since then, which makes your question hard to answer as of yet. The new tight ends are currently getting over the hump of running the right routes and the quarterbacks subsequently had a hard time finding them.
At this point I'd have to say the race is wide open with Vic So'oto and Andrew George as the frontrunners. George has seen the most production of the two as of late. Dennis Pitta is also someone who seems to catch at least one ball in every 11-on-11 drill being run. So in short, ask me again in a couple of weeks.
Regarding who I expect to start opposite Criddle, I'd have to go with Kayle Buchanan. Buchanan has far and away been the most consistent performer at cornerback so far this spring. The job is his to lose. That said, I've been very impressed with Andre Saulsberry and Brandon Howard so far this spring. Both of them have really stepped up their consistency and intensity. The two-deep at CB looks to be more solid than at anytime since I started covering the team almost six years ago.
Question: Depth Chart at long-snapper?
Answer: I'm not sure there has been one put out for deep-snapper as of yet. Brett Denney is the guy who is getting most of the reps at deep-snapping as he takes turns with John Pace. This is another question I'll be better able to answer as spring practices come to a close.
Question: How is the kicker looking? How far is he kicking his kickoffs? How high and far are his punts so far?
Answer: The kickoffs have looked good so far, with Mitch Payne is handling most of the kicking duties. He has good height and depth on most of his kickoffs so far.
Payne's punting meanwhile has been a little inconsistent. We've been spoiled watching Derek McLaughlin punt in practice as he consistently let go of the most gorgeous punts you'll ever see. Payne has yet to match his height and depth or McLaughlin's consistency during practices.
Question: Can you address the battle at field corner and running back?
Answer: I touched on the field corner battle above, but would like to reiterate the improved play of Brandon Howard and especially Andre Saulsberry. Both of them have shown far more active and confident in their reps. Scott Johnson also appears to be a guy who will warrant playing-time, if not this year than in the future, although boundary CB looks to be his best position.
Ray Hudson and Wayne Latu are both getting the bulk of the reps at running back. Coaches know what Harvey Unga is capable of and Hudson and Latu will have a tough hill to climb to surpass Unga on the depth chart.
That said, Hudson has improved as he's hitting the hole harder. Latu meanwhile has shown glimpses of what he showed against UNLV in 2005. Both Hudson and Latu need to prove better able to catch balls out of the backfield as they've both had some drops.
Question: 1. Which past Cougar LB would you compare Van Sweden to?
2. In drills, has Hall shown a threshold of how deep he can throw the ball accurately and consistently?
Answer: Dan Van Sweden has had a very good spring so far as he's made plays consistently over the first six days playing with the second unit. Van Sweden has very good speed and sort of reminds me of a Brad Martin. Van Sweden is someone who will make a strong bid to start after this coming season.
Max Hall throws a good deep-ball. He maxes out at about 50-60 yards, which is really all you need. Legends have been made out of QBs throwing balls 80+ yards with tremendous accuracy, but the necessity to do such is just about zero, making said ability pretty much useless. Hall has a lot of zip on his ball and can make all the throws.