Back to the Grind...



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It was an uneventful Friday morning practice, a day after the Cougars' unanticipated day off. And that, in and of itself, is welcome news in Cougar camp--considering BYU's attrition rate through almost two weeks of camp.

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In front a BYU practice-record 1150 fans (a number boosted in part by the fact today is "Graduation Day" on campus), the Cougars went through their 90-minute workout in workmanlike fashion, with players no doubt refreshed after getting a day to rest their bodies.

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This morning's practice was conducted in full pads, and was the first of two sessions today. The afternoon session will be "helmets only." Today is the second-to-last day of "two-a-days," with tomorrow's short scrimmage to be followed by a final double practice session on Monday.

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The Saturday scrimmage will be about one-third shorter than last weekend's affair at Edwards Stadium, with the first-team offense targeted for only about 20 snaps.

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Players out due to injury today:

CB Brandon Howard (hamstring)

CB Brandon Bradley (groin)

WR Ryan Neeley (groin)

WR Saia Hafoka (knee)

LB Shawn Doman (hip flexor)

LB Kelly Bills (concussion)

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Backup QB Brenden Gaskins was allowed to go "live" today, albeit only in shotgun. He is not yet ready to take snaps from under center, but his finger is healing well and Gaskins is on pace to be ready as the primary backup for the Arizona opener.

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Max Hall made short work of his two "blue zone" series, hitting Harvey Unga for short passes that he then took into the end zone. Neither Brenden Gaskins nor Jason Munns got in for scores from from the 20. Gaskins series ended with Mitch Payne attempting what looked to be a 35-yard field goal--it was wide right. Munns was picked by Scott Johnson.

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It would be fair to say that to this point in camp, the placekicking and punting has been no better than average, with some high-profile misses from Payne in last week's scrimmage. C.J. Santiago was one of the better JC punters in the country last season, but his "big boomers" have been rare so far in camp. I'll be interested to see how those players perform tomorrow, since Bronco said special teams will receive substantial emphasis in the stadium scrimmage.

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One of the quiet success stories of camp is that of Tyler Beck--the true freshman from Murrieta, California has taken advantage of the absence of Terrance Hooks and the injury to Shawn Doman, and has been plugged in to the #2 spot at the inside "backer" linebacker position, alongside Matt Bauman. Once Hooks and/or Doman return, it will be interesting to see what happens with both Beck and Bauman. Bauman was originally pencilled in as an outside backer, but with Grant Nelson and Chris Bolden seeming to solidify their second-string spots outside, coaches Lamb and Tidwell have some intriguing options to discuss.

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Recapping a point made by Bronco in his post-practice comments: While true freshman Jordan Pendleton is the second-string Katback (playing behind Corby Hodgkiss), backup free safety Kellen Fowler is considered the primary reserve at both FS and Kat, currently.

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The punt and kickoff return group today consisted of Bryce Mahuika, Austin Collie, Cortny Barton, Ryan Kessman, Reed White and Jordan Smith.

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First-stringers on the two kickoff cover units today were: Corby Hodgkiss, Bryan Kehl, Quinn Gooch, Kelly Poppinga, Matt Allen, Dennis Pitta and Vic So'oto.

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It was thought Dustin Gabriel would be undergoing foot surgery today, but surgery has been moved back to next week.

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Check out byucougars.com for more details, but the BYU basketball team won the opening game on its tour of France, beating a Paris club team, 90-68. Double-doubles for Plaisted, Cummard and McGregor, with double-figure scoring from Burgess and Tavernari. Chris Miles had 6 and 5 in his first game back since returning from his LDS mission.

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