Spring Practice Report: Day Ten

Max Hall will obviously retain the starting slot at quarterback as the Cougars enter the 2008 season. Meanwhile, the battle to see who backs up Hall has developed into a very interesting one this spring, with Brenden Gaskins trying to hold off Kurt McEuen. While Gaskins was assumed to be the backup, McEuen is pushing more and more every day for the backup role at quarterback.

"It's Brenden's job right now, but I'm doing everything I can to push him and push myself to get the backup spot every day," said Kurt McEuen regarding the battle between him and Brenden Gaskins for the backup quarterback spot. "We're both having good springs I think, and we're pushing each other, which is a good thing."

Indeed, the back and forth battle going on between Gaskins and McEuen has been an interesting one. While Gaskins got all of the second reps the first week, this week has seen them alternate pretty consistently on a day to day basis.

"It's been great," commented quarterback coach Brandon Doman regarding the backup battle between Gaskins and McEuen. "I've been really happy with how Kurt McEuen has done because he's really added competition to the spot."

At every position on the football field, competition is a good thing. No coach wants players on their two-deep roster that aren't being pushed. Having able bodies to push one another is the ideal for every practice session every year in order for a team to reach its potential.

"Anytime there is competition it adds value to the position and to those new guys who are up-and-coming," said Doman. "Kurt was pushing really hard and starting to emerge, but then Brenden responded very well, throwing a touchdown pass and really making his reads well, and hopefully that is how it goes for the rest of the spring and into the fall. They're each pushing one another and they're both going to be better because of it."

On Tuesday it was Gaskins' turn to get the primary backup reps, but one can expect McEuen to be the one this coming Thursday, as he switches up primary backup reps with Gaskins on a day to day basis.

"I just need to make sure I take advantage of the reps I get," said McEuen. "When I get in there I need to move the ball. It's really that simple."

"It's all about moving the ball in practice in the way we have it set up," said Doman. "If one guy goes in and doesn't move the ball, then we take him out and see what the next guy can do. Some days Brenden responds the best and some days it's Kurt, which makes for a great competition."

The backup position behind Hall is one of great importance. While it was minor, Hall tweaked his ankle when it was stepped on by a rusher, which underscores the fact that one never knows when their starting quarterback is going to go down during the course of a season.

"You never know, but you better be prepared if it does," said Doman. "Max got stepped on and it wasn't serious or anything, but if something does ever happen to Max we need to be confident that either Gaskins or McEuen can go in and get it done."

While it was Gaskins who spent last season as the backup and assuming that position as spring ball started, Doman acknowledges that the spot is now open. McEuen has forced Doman's hand in this regard through hard work and great play this spring.

"We had every intention starting this spring of Brenden assuming the backup role, but the credit goes to Kurt and what he has done," said Doman. "What Kurt has done is really improve in the offseason to the point where he's really pushing Brenden, which is really exciting for me as their coach. It's a legitimate competition which will benefit the position and the team greatly into the season."

McEuen joined the team as a walk-on following his church mission to Dallas. McEuen hails from Heber City, Utah and is now entering his third year in the program.

"I spent a lot of the year running the scout team, which really helped me a lot," said McEuen. "Going against the 1s on defense every day really forces you to speed up your play and your reads. So having gone against them and now competing against them for the backup has really helped."

McEuen is aware that he still has a ways to go, but is working hard every day to improve on the different aspects of his game.

"More than anything I think I need to work on my footwork," said McEuen. "Coach Doman always teaches us that it all starts with your feet. We all have the right reads and we pretty much know where we need to get the ball, but it's all about using your feet properly to get the ball there. It's not as easy as it sounds."

McEuen is also learning a lot from Max Hall and the other quarterbacks on the team.

"We all help each other out whenever we can," said McEuen. "We're a real tight group and we all help each other a lot. I'm competing against Brenden, but when I see him throw a touchdown pass like he did today I'm happy for him. It's good for the team and that's what we're all about."

McEuen said he's exactly where he wants to be right now. Ever since McEuen was a kid, he's dreamed of playing quarterback at BYU. Now that he has that chance, he couldn't be happier.

"I was actually reading the journal I kept when I was 10 and I was talking about where I wanted to be 10 years from now," related McEuen. "I wrote in it that I wanted to be just off my mission and playing quarterback for BYU, and here I am. I have a ways to go, but I'm competing and making the proper steps to move up the ladder. I couldn't be happier."

Practice Notes

-Max Hall went 4-of-6 for 32 yards and a touchdown during 11-on-11 situational drills. Hall's touchdown pass went to Dennis Pitta from 5 yards out. The team practiced blue zone drills as well as drills from inside the 10-yard line backed up against the end zone.

-As mentioned, Brenden Gaskins guided the second-team unit to a touchdown that came with another 5-yard pass to Dennis Pitta during blue zone drills.

-The team will practice on both Thursday and Friday of this week before going on just Tuesday and Thursday next week in preparation for the Blue and White Game, which will take place a week from this Saturday.

-Head coach Bronco Mendenhall mentioned that the coming practices will focus on determining the depth chart for the team as they head into the offseason.


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