After Saturday morning's session in Provo, the Cougars are on the downhill side of the "camp" portion of preseason practice. In previous years, head coach Bronco Mendenhall has closed camp and begun preparing for the season-opening opponent after Day 15 or 16; today was Day 9, and practice no. 11.
Mendenhall said that at this point of the month, he thinks his players have handled the workload well, and doesn't sense the "dog days" settling in.
"I'm pleased with how they're working," said Mendenhall after practice. "They're improving each day--small things, position mastery, effort is consistent. I think we're actually gaining momentum...through day number nine, I feel like we're on track."
For the first time in eight days of camp, clouds graced the outdoor practice fields in Provo, cooling things off for the second second day of BYU's two-a-days.
With players in shells (helmets/shoulder pads), the morning session featured the team ending practice with some 11-on-11 blue zone work, and plays were made on both sides of the ball.
QB Riley Nelson was 7-for-9 passing for 65 yards, with three touchdowns and an interception (Craig Bills). Scoring tosses went to Cody Hoffman (20 yards and 10 yards) and Mitch Mathews (10 yards). JD Falslev scampered in on a 20-yard score. In addition to Bills' pick, DB Preston Hadley recorded a pass break-up in the end zone.
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall called it "fairly vanilla on both sides," but Thursday morning's 76-snap stadium scrimmage had enough exciting plays to encourage fans, only three weeks before the Cougars' season-opener with Washington State.
On a day when many if not most first-stringers remained on the sidelines, Mendenall said "we saw a ton of young defensive players play, and every young quarterback (got) a chance to play. (It helped) a ton in hopefully evaluating personnel, establishing depth, doing some great teaching, and evaluating a scheme here or there."
After five days of single-session practices, Wednesday introduced the Cougars to the "two-a-days" routine. BYU has five such days scheduled for camp between today and next Friday.
This morning's practice followed a now-typical pattern, with 11-on-11 "team" work preceding a team-wide conditioning drill and ice-plunge. On a sixth straight day without hitting, the defense was disruptive in "team," with Spencer Hadley recording an interception of Riley Nelson, along with two would-be sacks. Defensive backs Sawyer Powell and Micah Hanneman had pass break-ups.
In limited reps, Nelson was 2-of-5 passing for 17 yards, while adding a 20-yard run. James Lark went 1-for-2 for 20 yards, while Taysom Hill was 1-for-2 for nine yards. RB Adam Hine had a 40-yard TD scamper, with RB Michael Alisa and Hill also getting downfield with long runs.
The Cougars held their first scrimmage of fall camp Thursday morning; Thursday night, we did a Cougar Tracks live chat to break it down and discuss BYU Sports.
Click below to re-live the excitement that only two straight hours of keyboard-rattling can create.
The shoulder pads were on for the first time in camp, but on Tuesday in Provo, the practice field was still a "no-hit zone" on head coach Bronco Mendenhall's orders.
The players had a difficult time obeying those orders in the 11-on-11 session to end practice, so Mendenhall called an early end to the proceedings, choosing to put his players through a lengthy conditioning gauntlet in place of live snaps.
The hit that caused the shut-down was delivered by safety Daniel Sorensen, who knocked running back Michael Alisa off his feet after a run. Alisa responded by knocking the helmet off of Sorensen's head, and following a brief scuffle and some angry words, Mendenhall had seen enough. The Cougars' first camp practice in shoulder pads ended before its scheduled completion.
On day four of BYU's preseason practices, QB Riley Nelson was sharp in the session-ending 11-on-11 segment, completing all eight of his passes for 108 yards and a 49-yard touchdown to RB David Foote.
The last of Nelson's eight completions gets an asterisk, as it was deflected (and could have been intercepted) by DE Eathyn Manumaleuna, before landing in the hands of right tackle Braden Brown. But hey, 100% is 100%.
Nelson's reps most approximated actual drives, as the other plays run with backup QBs were set for specific downs and distances, with a frequent rotation of signal-callers. Nelson was essentially allowed to move his team down the field in the limited-contact, no-pads "team" session.
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall continued to ease his players into contact on Saturday, conducting a third consecutive camp practice without pads, on a day when shoulder pads were permissible for the first time.
The two-hour practice was the first morning session of the preseason, held on a warm morning with no wind. On limiting contact with the no-pads approach on what has previously always been a days for "shells" (helmets and shoulder pads), Mendenhall said the team is "continuing to work on the pace that we're working on without pads, and I wanted to see one more day of it."
"We're getting a lot done," said Mendenhall, "and so I thought it would be a good way to start. Rest through the weekend, and then keep increasing intensity, as camp is more of a marathon than a sprint."
The Cougars held a two-hour helmets-only practice late Friday afternoon in Provo, with the players facing a quick turnaround before camp's first morning session on Saturday.
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall said his players had "less enthusiasm, but better execution" on day two of camp. "The focus was still good. We got more done today (than Thursday)."
The first day of BYU's preseason camp concluded at around 6:30pm on Thursday evening, more than 2 1/2 hours after it began beneath a sweltering sun at the Cougars' outdoor practice fields.
Something new at the 2012 camp is the collection of ice tubs assembled at the south end of the fields, and as practice concluded, there was a rush to take advantage of the cool-down aids. The tubs are more than a desired destination on a hot day--they are also deemed a therapeutic necessity as part of the program's new fitness and conditioning regimen.
BYU Football begins preseason practices Thursday with a 105-player camp roster, including 20 newcomers comprising incoming freshmen and transfers, return missionaries and walk-ons.
The 85 program veterans are led by 14 returning offensive and defensive starters, featuring the Cougars' first-string quarterback, tight end, "X," "Z" and "H" receivers.
After a few weeks away, we rolled out another live chat, on the eve of "Camp Cougar."
Click below for the even-better-than-live replay of Wednesday night's session, and be sure to join me again next week, when we get chatty once again:
Perhaps it is because I am getting older that the off-seasons seem shorter, but here we are again--already.
My annual broadcast schedule is set to a familiar rhythm. On the gridiron, August camp morphs into September games, and then basketball joins the sporting milieu in October, creating a month-and-a-half of two-sport crossover coverage. Football gives way to hoops around Thanksgiving, only to make a late December cameo, with another brief appearance on national signing day. Basketball carries the winter, and carries me through early-to-mid-to-late March, when football again appears for its spring ritual.
By early April, things have settled down, with a nearly four-month rest period providing a time to squeeze in some vacation time, and otherwise get ready to do it all over again in August. Those months represent my prep time for the campaigns ahead, for if my broadcasts are to improve over the previous season, my preparation will need to have improved as well. Confucius said: "Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure."
Less than two weeks before the opening of pre-season football practice, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall Friday announced that junior running back Joshua "Juice" Quezada has decided to transfer.
Running back is one of BYU's deeper positions, and Mendenhall acknowledged during a post-season media gathering in January that backfield competition was likely on Quezada's mind at the time.
BYU players continue to garner nation award watch list recognition, as running back Michael Alisa was Thursday named as a nominee for the Doak Walker Award, presented annually to the nation's premier running back.
Alisa's on-field recognition comes only a couple of days after he was honored for his off-the-field work as a nominee to the All-State AFCA Good Works Team.
A linebacker during his 2008 freshman season, Alisa returned from his LDS mission and moved to the offensive backfield in 2011, emerging at mid-season to energize the Cougars' ground game.
BYU quarterback Riley Nelson was Wednesday honored as one of 34 signal-callers selected to the watch list for the Davey O'Brien Award, given annually to the nation's best quarterback.
Starting only seven games last season, Nelson threw for 1,717 yards on the year, tossing 19 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. His pass efficiency rating of 152.9 was 16th-best nationally.
Nelson ended last season in third place on BYU's alltime quarterback rushing list (662 rush yards), after running for 392 yards in 2011. A similar performance in 2012 would give him a shot at passing Steve Young (1,084 yards) for second place on the Cougars' alltime QB run chart, with an outside chance at surpassing leader Virgil Carter (1,225 yards).
BYU Football now has players represented on seven major preseason award watch lists, with Cody Hoffman named Tuesday as a nominee for the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the nation's most outstanding receiver.
Last season, Hoffman led BYU with 61 receptions for 943 yards and ten touchdowns, three of which came in BYU's season-ending Armed Forces Bowl win over Tulsa. Hoffman's game-clinching TD catch came with 11 seconds remaining in the contest.
Among 2011's non-seniors, Hoffman ranked 25th in receiving yards, while only 11 returning players had more than Hoffman's ten receiving scores in 2011. Hoffman's 1,470 career receiving yards rank him 29th all-time at BYU.
BYU Football's preseason camp opens in less than three weeks, and every fan will have questions he or she wants answered during the days of drills and practices in August.
Here are 20 questions I have; maybe we share some of the same curiosities.
BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy is among the nominees for the Bronco Nagurski Trophy, given annually to the nation's most outstanding defensive player. Van Noy joins Cougar offensive lineman Braden Hansen in being named to a national watch list on Thursday, with Hansen making the preseason cut for the Outland Trophy, awarded to the nation's most outstanding interior lineman.
With 50 days to go until BYU's football season kicks off, Cougar hoops is in the news with the release of BYU's 2012-13 non-conference schedule.
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