Doman is a smaller, quicker linebacker than Staffieri, which makes Doman very capable in space and in coverage across the middle. The challenge for him this year has been improving upon his ability to take on blockers up the middle while filling the gaps provided by the defensive linemen in front of him.
"I've worked to improve a lot in defending the run," said Doman. "Defending the run is the most important thing for any defense, so I've worked hard on that part of my game, and it's the area where I feel I've improved the most."
While Doman is thankful for his expanded role so far this season, he's still yearning for even more reps and wants to further expand on his role.
"I want to play more, everyone does," said Doman. "It's tough because I know how good of a player Staff [Staffieri] is. He's a senior and he does a great job. I've learned from him a lot, but yeah, I'd definitely like to play more."
Rotating in every other defensive series or so has its advantages. In addition to keeping the players fresh, it also allows them to watch what an offense is doing from a different perspective. However, there are some obvious disadvantages.
"A lot of times I don't feel that I'm in the flow of the game and that I have to start over," said Doman. "I know the coaches are doing what is best for the defense, but it's tough to consistently go in and out so much, and I'm sure Markell feels the same."
So far so good, as the Cougar defense has seemingly improved upon its breakthrough collective performance of a season ago when BYU finished on top of the Mountain West defensive rankings by quite a large margin. Having defended effectively against two Pac-10 opponents, Doman feels the defense's best days lie ahead.
"We all feel we've done okay," said Doman. "But we all realize that we can do a lot better and get a lot better as a unit. We've had some tough games and we obviously didn't do everything we could have to beat UCLA, so we need to make sure that doesn't happen again. We're happy with where we're at, but we have a lot that we can improve and it starts this week against Tulsa."
Jorgensen Moving Around
A shrewd observer could take note that defensive end Jan Jorgensen has logged some reps at positions other than the outside end position. Indeed, coaches are using Jorgensen in various roles this year, as the defense has evolved from a season ago.
"I'm moving around a bit, yeah, but I'm still mainly playing defensive end," said Jorgensen. "It's sort of fun playing some different roles at times. Whatever helps the defense most is what I'm for."
During the first game against Arizona, Jorgensen played nose tackle next to Ian Dulan on one side, with linebacker Chris Bolden lining up as a sort of rush end from the other side during passing situations. It's a role Jorgensen is more than willing to fill, but it certainly has its difficulties.
"I like rushing from the end position more," said Jorgensen. "It's tough up the middle and I don't envy what our nose tackles have to do. I'm willing to do whatever coaches feel is best in any situation, but yeah, I definitely like rushing from the outside more."
Against UCLA, Jorgensen again saw a few reps at nose tackle with Ian Dulan again flanking him on one side. This time, however, the defense had someone new on the other end.
"With that last week I dropped into coverage while Eathyn [Manumaleuna] rushed the end," said Jorgensen. "We might do a little more of that this week or have us all rush. We may even have Eathyn drop into coverage. We're adding more stuff every week and it's fun."
What They Do Well
With a somewhat more radical offensive system to be encountered this weekend in Tulsa's flex/option attack, some would think that the Cougar defense would likewise adjust and change their system and personnel to match what Tulsa does offensively. If you thought this, then you'd be wrong.
"We don't change much of anything for anyone," said cornerback Kayle Buchanan. "We believe in the system. The system is solid and we know that if we execute the system like we should we can defend against any offensive scheme."
Most defenses use various formations throughout the game, including nickel and dime formations – which add more defensive backs and take away some linebackers during passing situations – but BYU's defensive coaches do not follow suit.
"The system we run is right and can adjust to most any situation," said Buchanan. "We have fast linebackers who can adjust to just about anything an offense can do. We're also solid in our coverages, so no, we won't change much of anything against Tulsa."
Of course, every offense brings various strengths that the Cougar defenders have to focus on. Tulsa's strength is their quarterback Paul Smith and his ability to move around while running some option in Tulsa's flex-system.
"He's good," said Buchanan about Smith. "But we won't change much just because he moves around some. We'll just be that much more careful to be assignment-sound, reading our keys correctly and all that. If everyone is assignment-sound in this defense, then we can defend against anyone. It's about us and what we do on defense, not about what they do. We know that if we do what we do effectively, that it won't matter what they can or will do; we'll stop it."