Camp Cougar, Day 1



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picking up where they left off... with one key player "left out."

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Well, here we go, and I plan to create this blog entry as I go, with interviews filed as I write and process today's activities.

Let's start with head coach Bronco Mendenhall's post-practice interview, which you can click to hear by accessing the link on the right side of the page--and he starts by being asked what he knows after practice that he did not know before...

or... you can click right here.

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The "big news of the day" was Austin Collie's stress fracture in his right leg. I'll have more below, but Austin's interview link is to the right, or right here.

As was detailed, it was an injury that got progressively worse and more painful, but is in a location and is being treated in such a way that time off the leg should heal it as expected, and as Austin said, he anticipates being available the week of the season opener.

Collie spent practice on the sidelines (helmet, jersey, athletic shoes instead of cleats), with a bone stimulator taped to his leg below the right knee.

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In the first couple days of camp, I am less focused on individual performances than I am establishing the initial depth charts, then as camp goes along, we can see who the movers and shakers are--and they usually represent the players performing the best. Today was a day to establish a baseline, and before we get to the Day One depth chart, a quick note about the players who were either not present, or who have made some positional modifications:

Collie, as covered above.

RB Fui Vakapuna, who practiced, but was kept out of team drills while rehabbing a strained hamstring.

DL Bernard Afutiti (absent while JC paperwork is completed).

LB Matt Bauman was dressed, but did not participate in any full-speed activities. As Bronco mentions, Bauman should be out at least a week.

WRs Jameson Frazier and Rex Morgan have switched over from the defensive backfield, where they were a corner and safety, respectively.

DL Matt Putnam had been listed as a linebacker, but is up front after all.

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Day One Depth Chart (*indicates injured but otherwise occupies listed spot in depth chart)

OFFENSE

QB: Hall (1), Gaskins (2), McEuen (3), Covey (4), Stewart (5)

TB: Unga (1),DiLuigi (2)

FB: Vakapuna (1*), Latu (2), Taylor/Bills/Kariya(3)

Note: backs generally carry designation of RB, but in some two-back sets, a TB/FB split can be applied. Also in the rotation at RB are Bruner and Lamb.

TE: Pitta (1), George (2), Friel (3), Brown (4), McCullough (5)

WR-X: Reed (1), Kozlowski (2--also plays Z), Hafoka (3), Jaussi (4), Frazier/Morgan (5)

WR-Z: Collie (1*), Mahuika (2), Ashworth (3), Chambers (4), Peterson (5)

WR-H: White (1), Marshall (2)

LT: D. Reynolds (1), M. Reynolds (2), Tenney (3)

LG: Feinga (1), Freeman (2), Taufi (3)

C: Sorenson (1), Willing (2), Freeman (3)

RG: Bright (1), Speredon (2), T. Brown (3)

RT: Oswald (1), Reden (2), Stringham (3)

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DEFENSE

LE: Dulan (1), Denney (2), Kafu (3)

NT: Tialavea (1), Foketi (2), Wolfley/Hola (3)

RE: Jorgensen (1), Putnam (2), Luekenga/Richardson (3)

*other DL roatating at 4/5 are: Blackmore, V. Unga

SLB: Nixon (1), Alisa (2), Wagner (3), Tuitama (4)

MLB: Bauman (1*), Ah You (2), Bell (3), Pritchard (4), Hunter (5)

BLB: Doman (1), Van Sweden (2), Hadley (3), Graham (4)

WLB: So'oto (1), Clawson (2), Court (3)

CB (Field): Howard (1), Pittman (2), Nicholson (3)

Safety (Kat): Tafuna (1), Pendleton (2), Te'o (3)

Safety (Free): Fowler (1), Thomas (2), Rich (3)

CB (Boundary): Johnson (1), Bradley (2), Nagy (3)

*other corners rotating at 4/5 are: Comer, Brooks, Love and Uyema

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PK: Payne/Sorensen (1)

P: Santiago (1)

PR: Mahuika (1), White (2), Ashworth (3)

no KR today (and the way Sorensen kicks it, this may turn into the "kickoff cover" instead of "kickoff return" part of the practice summary).

Holder: Mahuika (1), Gaskins (2)

Snapper (PK/FG): Pace (1)

Snapper (Punt): Muehlmann (1)

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Before I get to some other stuff, you will notice interviews with Max Hall, Matt Ah You, and Vic So'oto.

Max opens with some general thoughts about the team, Matt is asked about playing with the "ones" in place of Matt Bauman, and Vic is asked which requires the smarter player: offense or defense.

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As BYU mentions on its website, the day began not with a "beep test" (which has now been skipped two years in a row), but with a climb up "Y" mountain. Hey, conditioning is conditioning, whether it's beeping or running uphill. Good on ya, boys.

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Okay now... on to some thoughts after day one:

: things were very, very businesslike; like they had been doing this all summer. You can tell Bronco has this team prepared for expectations, and prepared to execute--if not to perfection, at least at a standard that demonstrates the kind of attention to assignment the Bronco thinks is imperative to play in his system.

: I'm just the smallest bit concerned about Fui Vakapuna's hamstring, and maybe I shouldn't be. I guess I would just prefer that he be full go from the start of camp, but if the goal is to hit the season opener at 100%, I fully trust that Kevin Morris (head football trainer) and his staff will worry less about day one of camp, and more about day one of the season. By the way, Morris is a pro--the football players are in the best of hands.

: it will be interesting to see how the kicking game progresses in camp, because day one was nothing if not encouraging. I hope you could sense the excitement in Bronco's voice when talking about his kickers. You know you can tell when you hit a golf ball, when you really hit it flush how it just "sounds" solid? Well, C.J Santiago had a lot of those punts that sounded good before they looked good--and he had a bunch today.

: Justin Sorensen was born to kick--simple as that. The guys's leg swing is almost effortless, and the ball just keeps going, and going, and going... and believe me, the players were buzzing. Having said that, Mitch Payne is healthy and has picked up his game as a result (which Bronco mentioned in his post-practice summary). Another couple of Sorensen tidbits--out of 10 kickoffs yesterday in workouts, 9 went through the end zone; the other was 8 yards deep in the end zone. And heading to my car tonight, I came across Sorensen...(wait for it).. riding his unicycle. And not some rinky-dink unicycle--this one was tall, and a little tricked out. And there he is, cooking along, doing the one-wheel thing. Matt Bauman tok a spill on two wheels--here's hoping Sorensen stays upright on just one.

: once we get into camp a few days, standout plays and standout players will begin to, well... stand out. As for today, it was a day to put names with numbers, and see what kind of hand BYU's been dealt. It was a great day, weather-wise, with high cloud cover taking the edge of an early August scorcher. Plans are to go Monday afternoon, then start with the morning routine next Tuesday.

: C Tom Sorenson bounced a couple of snaps today--first-day jitters, we'll call it.

: RB Tucker Lamb is the son of OLBs coach Barry Lamb. Tucker is an Orem High product.

: if you listened to all of Bronco's interview, you heard me conclude with a question about defensive back Byron Putnam. No, he's not on the two-deep, but expect an interview with Byron, who has overcome a substantial hearing loss to make it as a college football player, after transferring from the University of Utah following his LDS mission.

: I will also get an interview early next week with Tyler Kozlowski, now wearing the #7 his Dad sported as a member of BYU's national championship team of 1984. By the way, Chris Warner wore #7 last season, and Tyler tells me that out of respect for the older Warner, he didn't make a fuss about the jersey. Tyler says when Warner left the team due to injury, he told the new "Koz" that #7 was all his.

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On an unrelated note (and this may be old news, I don't know), but someone I know who's been talking to Bryan Kehl tells me the Giants are playing him some at rush end.

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Well, that's going to do it for now. I know it's not the "Cougar Daily Download," but this is a much, much, much better way for me to get my camp reports and interviews out to you. I welcome your feedback on how this is working out, and look for "Camp Cougar, Day Two" on Monday!

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