G-Notes

G-man has taken copious notes during the first three days of practice, observing every position group while talking to players and coaches. Lately some interesting developments have taken place on the team, leading to some intrigue as fall practice moves on.

Quarterback

Not much to report here now that it's out of the bag regarding Brenden Gaskins' improved play. Gaskins may have come out of the gate very strong, but Kurt McEuen, after a very rough first practice, has improved his play.

There is a new quarterback in camp named Christian Stewart. Stewart is a walkon from nearby Timpanogos High School who has decent height and a good arm. He isn't getting any reps, however, as fall camp reps are usually split between the first three quarterbacks on the depth chart.

During most practice sessions Max Hall gets about 50 percent of the reps, while McEuen and Gaskins split the other 50 percent. The amount obviously varies, but that is about where it usually breaks down.

Running Back

Fui Vakapuna was ripped a little by head coach Bronco Mendenhall regarding his ignored rehab this summer, which Mendenhall believes played a part with Vakapuna being gimpy at the start of fall camp. Vakapuna was viewed as an essential component in the backfield as fall camp started, and now that he appears to be behind where he should be at this point, the coaches will likely look at other players more closely.

The good news is that J.J. DiLuigi continues to impress. DiLuigi has been a big part of the offense so far this fall, getting reps with both the first and second team. His biggest asset is his ability to catch the ball, and right now he looks to be a ready option to join Harvey Unga in the backfield on most plays.

The interesting note out of practice Tuesday is that Kaneakua Friel has been switched over from tight end to see some reps at fullback. Friel is an athlete with a ton of upside, and he started to make some real strides this past spring.

Bryan Kariya is battling as well and is looked at as the better pass-catching option of the trio of players that includes himself, Isaac Taylor and Kelly Bills. Both Taylor and Bills are playing well, however, and who ultimately gets to play most will depend largely on blocking ability.

Wide Receiver

While O'Neill Chambers has received a lot of publicity, I continue to be impressed with Spencer Hafoka. While I'm not ready to say he's shown better than Luke Ashworth, the Kahuku product seems to make plays down the field with most practice sessions.

The guy who everyone seems to have forgotten about at wide receiver is Bryce Mahuika. Mahuika is back and playing very well. He's a player who knows the system very well and looks to have good chemistry with Max Hall. Mahuika is a prime candidate to snare the third receiver duties behind Austin Collie and Michael Reed.

Tight End

Not a lot to report other than Dennis Pitta continues to run well. He appears to be open any time Max Hall needs him, whether it's in the flat, up the seam or during crossing routes.

Offensive Line

Matt Reynolds is good and ready to play. Consider that Matt Reynolds was the more heralded recruit of any of the Reynolds brothers out of high school, and then consider that he's been in BYU's program a year longer than Dallas did when he started as a true freshman.

This reporter feels that a lot of the movement at the center position was due in large part to Coach Weber wanting to get Matt Reynolds on the field as one of the five starting offensive linemen. Coach Weber has raved about Matt's progress so far during fall camp, and it's entirely reasonable to expect him to take a big role throughout the coming season.

Jesse Taufi was believed to be a candidate primarily for offensive guard, but so far he's been cutting his teeth at offensive tackle. Taufi has Ray Feinga-like arms, which should aid him a lot as he tries to earn a spot with the offensive front.

Inside Linebacker

This position was thought to be a potential problem position prior to practices, but as I see Shawn Doman take a full set of reps and also see Matt Ah You's play, those concerns are starting to disappear.

Shawn Doman has had chronic back problems, but the thought was that he had overcome them this past spring. So far so good concerning Doman's back, yet it's only three days into the practice session. Matt Ah You meanwhile looks able to fill in for either Doman or Matt Bauman if called upon.

Outside Linebacker

Coleby Clawson is coming on strong as I reported earlier Tuesday, while Masi Tuitama's curious burial on the depth chart has been due to him simply being unable to take a large amount of reps due to injury. Meanwhile, Michael Alisa is making a move and proving ready to fill in, if he has to, as a true freshman.

Clawson looks to be an essential player in the outside linebacker mix, as Vic So'oto is still very young in learning the position. Clawson has good experience from the junior college ranks and should be able to fill in with little to no drop-off, at the very least, if called upon.

Safety

David Tafuna shone Tuesday during practice, making several knock downs of passes while in coverage. Tafuna is experienced, able and should do a very good job in filling the strong safety position.

Andrew Rich has also shown to be more adept in his recognition of coverages, and subsequently has been able to make more plays during practices from his strong safety position.

All the talk was about Shiloah Te'o during the first two days, and with good reason, as he's wowed observers and coaches with his play. Jordan Pendleton is still the second-team strong safety until further notice, however, and responded well to Teo's challenge by knocking down a couple of passes himself while in coverage.

Cornerback

Coach Mendenhall continues to term both cornerback positions as being open, with Brandon Bradley battling Scott Johnson for the boundary spot and G Pittman battling Brandon Howard for the field spot.

Lately both Bradley and Pittman have been making plays in coverage with every practice session. Both players are as good as it gets athletically for BYU at the corner position, and slowly but surely they're starting to make their athleticism relevant as they learn their respective positions. Look for both players to get at least a couple of looks with the first teamers sometime soon as the battles for both positions continue into the final week of practices.

Kicking Game

It was very apparent when interviewing Mitch Payne following Monday's practice that he's feeling the pressure that Justin Sorensen is bringing upon him. Payne was a bit short with his answers, which is fine since he's responded to the challenge on the field where it counts.

Payne has shown very good consistency thus far during practices, and the kicker who proves to be most consistent will be the player coaches call upon for the primary kicking duties.

After a bit of a rough day on Monday, Sorensen responded Tuesday by putting just about all of his attempts through the uprights. One thing that should be noted is that Sorensen is kicking the synthetic balls used in college that aren't used in high school. Regardless, this continues to look like one of the bigger battles of fall practices and a battle we'll subsequently be keeping close eyes on.


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