Spring Practice Begins

Spring practice got underway Monday as the team made their way to the indoor practice facility to begin their preparation for the coming 2009 football season. Several position changes, coupled with the arrival of some new talent, highlighted the practice session. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall said he liked how the team came out and worked during Monday's session.

"I think it was a typical first day," said head coach Bronco Mendenhall about Monday's practice session. "There was a lot of energy and a lot excitement, and execution has a long ways to go, assignments have a long way to go, clean play has a long way to go, but they were excited."

There wasn't too much for the coaches to report on other than the excitement and energy regarding the team's overall performance. It will take some time and some review of the practice film before the coaches can better determine how the team is doing and what progress is being made.

"We were obviously a bit rusty coming out this first day, which is to be expected," said quarterback Max Hall, who went 8-of-12 for 91 yards, two interceptions and a touchdown his first day. "I like the guys I'm working with and we're going to work on the timing and we're going to be great. It's obviously going to take time, but I'm excited about it."

Mendenhall stressed that the main goals this spring will be to identify new personnel that can help the team this coming year and see if they've matured over the offseason. Position mastery and executing effectively within the system will be the primary focus for coaches and players for the next month.

Mendenhall also mentioned that it was too early to identify players that came in more ready than others.

"There were a lot of guys running around in the wrong direction," mentioned Mendenhall. "We'll try and get them going directly after we review the film."

Mendenhall further mentioned that he expects his returning starters to be vocal while teaching the younger players, and said that he saw that Monday on both sides of the ball. He also mentioned that the young players were probably too tired and out of breath to say much of anything.

Hall said he felt a necessary energy on Monday that makes him feel positive regarding the prospects for the upcoming season. He is having to make do with an all-but-new offensive line and wide receiver corps, but Hall is confident that they'll work together well and be productive.

"Today especially there was a little bit of urgency and excitement," said Hall. "Guys are excited to play football and to get better. I think there is a new feeling than there was last season, so we're just feeding off of it."

Hall said that he's focusing on getting better at recognizing coverages and distributing the ball around, and is also looking to get bigger and stronger this spring.

"There will be a more equitable distribution of the ball," said Mendenhall about the offense this coming year. "Our offense is most difficult to defend when that happens, so that is what we're focusing on most, and that will be the thing outside observers will notice most is more equal distribution of the football."

Making the Switch

Jordan Pendleton was working out at strongside outside linebacker throughout Monday's practice session. Pendleton said he's excited about the switch, but knows that he has a long ways to go in order to become an effective player at the critical strongside position.

"It's a lot more physical and that's probably the biggest challenge," said Pendleton regarding his position change. "I'm having to take on blockers more and that's going to take some time to get used to, but I have this whole spring and after that, I'll get there."

The decision to switch Pendleton came just two weeks ago, and according to Mendenhall it was about a five-second conversation when he simply asked Pendleton to switch.

"A little bit more went into it than that, obviously," further explained Pendleton. "I talked to Coach Hill a lot about it and they mentioned they needed to match what Bryan Kehl did and they thought that I could do that for them. I just want to play, so I'm excited to help out and get better."

"As Jordan gets bigger and bigger and stronger and stronger he's beginning to look like those players," said Mendenhall, comparing Pendleton to former Sam linebackers - specifically Bryan Kehl and David Nixon. "I think he'll be a natural fit there."

Mendenhall stressed that a key component in the team's defensive success is having athletic strongside linebackers that could cover a lot of space, which led the coaches to believe Pendleton was the right guy to pick up where Kehl and then Nixon left off.

"He's one of the most athletic players on the team," said Mendenhall about Pendleton. "We'll find out if he's mature enough, but he's the right body-type and athletic enough to play there."

"It's my goal to start," said Pendleton. "I want to work as hard as possible and be the type of player they think I can be so that I can best help the team."

Practice Notes

-Monday's notable guests at practice included junior college transfer Brian Logan (set to join the team in April), Timpview head coach Louis Wong, Riley Nelson (signed his letter of intent with BYU on Monday), Mike Hague (just got back from his mission this past Thursday), Tui Crichton and Bronson Kaufusi.

-The first-team offensive line consisted of Matt Reynolds at left tackle, Jason Speredon at left guard, R.J. Willing at center, Terence Brown at right guard and Nick Alletto at right tackle. Offensive line coach Mark Weber mentioned that he'll try different players at different positions throughout practices this spring to determine who his best five will be.

-The first-team defensive secondary consisted of Brandon Bradley at boundary corner, Garrett Nicholson at field corner, Scott Johnson at free safety and Shiloah Te'o at strong safety. Andrew Rich sat out during practice.

-The twos on defense included Steven Thomas, Ryan Love, Carter Mees, Travis Uale, Vic So'oto, Shawn Doman, Grant Nelson, Matt Ah You, Matt Putnam, Tevita Hola and Steven Fisher.

-Highlights of the day included touchdown passes hauled in by O'Neill Chambers, Dennis Pitta and Mike Muehlman. Interceptions were recorded by Shiloah Te'o, Garrett Nicholson and Ryan Love.

-A couple of notable position changes were Jadon Wagner seeing reps at defensive end and Solomone Kafu playing offensive line.

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