The designation of the two inside linebacking positions in the 3-4 defense are designated as the Mike linebacker and the Buck linebacker. So what are the differences between the two positions and who plays where on the field?
"I'm playing Buck," answered Doman. "There isn't a real whole lot of difference, but they do have different responsibilities. The Buck is basically the short side or weak side linebacker, while the Mike defends the strong side. That's the main difference."
Doman came into fall practice as the primary Buck linebacker, but who is playing as his primary backup has changed in large part due to the injury this past spring to Terrance Hooks, as well as the fact that Matt Bauman has been hobbled so far this fall. Matt Ah You backed up Doman at Buck this past spring, but has moved over to Mike.
"I'm learning both positions, but this fall I've been playing the Mike position with Shawn so far," said Matt Ah You. "It's different. The responsibilities are a whole lot different, but we're all learning both positions so we can fill in when someone goes down."
So far this fall Ah You has responded nicely to the switch and his increased reps as a Mike linebacker, which has earned him praise from coaches and his teammates.
"Matt Ah You is playing great," said Doman. "He's come in and filled in very well for Matt Bauman. Together we're doing real well and we're working very well together."
For Ah You, it was just a matter of bearing down and learning the defense. As he has familiarized himself with the defense and what they try to do on the field, he's become much more comfortable in his responsibilities, whether he is playing the Mike or Buck positions.
"The defense is totally different than it was before my mission," said Ah You. "So it takes time and I've learned a lot, and when you learn and feel more comfortable you're able to make plays better and help your teammates out more. It's good to learn both positions so I can help out should either Shawn or Matt go down or need a rest."
Back is Back
Meanwhile Shawn Doman is holding steady as the team's primary Buck linebacker. Heading into fall, Doman was hoping to put his chronic back problems behind him. Since arriving at BYU, Doman has had his overall play and reps severely limited by a sore back.
"I don't even think about it anymore when I'm out there," said Doman when asked about his back. "It feels great and it's not an issue. I'm ready to go for as many reps as they want me to take. It's definitely the best I've felt since I've been here."
Doman has undergone consistent therapy on his back. The therapy has involved an inversion table which has stretched out his spine, making it feel better to the point where Doman feels he can play a full season without any pain or discomfort.
"It's been fine since spring and this offseason I've been fine, so hopefully I stay that way throughout the season," said Doman.
The Bigger the Better
While both Shawn Doman and Matt Bauman have been defined as sort of smaller-type linebackers, both reported to camp well over 230 pounds as part of their efforts to improve their overall play. With the added weight, both Doman and Bauman hope to take on blocks better while defending the run.
"I'm getting older, and as I'm getting older I'm keeping the weight on better," said Doman. "I'm about 235 right now and I'm keeping my weight up there. I hope to play this year no less than 230 pounds."
Both Doman and Bauman have been hitting the buffet table hard in hopes of bringing up and then keeping up their respective weights. With the added weight, Doman is feeling good and ready to take on whatever comes his way.
"That's the plan, to take on whatever teams throw at us or whatever comes through the line," said Doman. "We're going to do our best to throw whatever comes through backwards."
While both sides of the ball yearn to put on the pads and go at each other full speed and with full contact, such practices are particularly welcome to the defensive players.
"Coaches teach us to be physical and play a physical brand of football," said Ah You. "So when we get to the stadium tomorrow, it's party time, it's real football time. It's time to get physical and not hold back. That's why we play, so we're all very excited."
One of the bigger stories this fall has been the play and progression of Matt Reynolds at the left tackle spot. We caught up with Matt to learn of his progress so far this fall.