Camp Cougar, Day 2

Camp Cougar, Day 2

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(Images: BYU Photos)

An injury to starting inside linebacker Terrance Hooks was among the news items to come out of the second day of summer camp in Provo this afternoon. Hooks went down with a hamstring injury within minutes of the start of practice, during the defense's first rotation in the "pursuit" drill.

Bronco Mendenhall was confident Hooks would not be lost for a significant amount of time, however, and didn't seem overly concerned with the injury. "He'll be fine," according to the coach.

You can hear my post-practice interview with Coach Mendenhall by clicking his audio link in the "Cougar Cuts" box to the right.


Among the other items of note...

Second-string LT Stetson Tenney has decided to leave the program to focus on academics, and LB Zane Mendenhall (son of Bronco's first cousin Buck) is contemplating leaving the team for a mission and is taking some time to figure out his short-term future. Neither player was at practice today.


Safety Blake Morgan missed practice while nursing a sore hamstring.



OL Jesse Taufi is expected back tomorrow after tending to some academic issues, while we got some more details on the Manase Tonga timetable.

Bronco says exams should be finished by Wednesday, grades should post by Friday, and Tonga could be in front of the admissions committee next Monday--best case scenario.


Safety Andrew Rich returned to practice today and was back running with the "ones" this afternoon. Same for Matt Bauman, who re-took his starting spot at middle linebacker. WR Rhen Brown made his first appearances and ran with the "X"s.


Strongside linebacker Grant Nelson replaced Jordan Pendleton with the "ones" today, bumping Pendleton to second-string. I asked Bronco about the shift, and he anticipates "back and forth" movement at that spot throughout camp. More on my day two depth chart later in this entry.


I spoke with QB Max Hall after practice, and in his interview, you will hear him confirm that Offensive Coordinator Robert Anae will be in the press box this season, while QBs coach Brandon Doman will be on the sidelines.

Hall seems excited about the move and being able to interact with Doman when he comes off the field.

Once again today, Anae, and coaches Doman and Higgins were wearing headsets--Anae calling plays from the second-floor balcony overhang.


I also interviewed wideouts coach Patrick Higgins after practice, and he told me a little bit about newcomers Brett Thompson, Cody Hoffman and Mitch Mathews (whose bother, WR Marcus, is back from his mission and will grayshirt this season, by the way).

Suffice it to say Coach Higgins likes to undersell, and have his guys over-perform; no gushing about the new guys. Or the veterans, for that matter--Coach Higgins is seriously old school.


Enjoy my conversation with CB Brandon Bradley, who has played very well in the early part of camp after getting four starts at the boundary corner spot last season. He speaks well of the competition in the defensive backfield, and is just a fun guy to talk with--the former LDS missionary to Brazil is all the way back from a knee injury that hampered him earlier in his career, and his health and proficiency at the corner bodes well for BYU.


Kudos to sophomore RB/FB Mike Hague, who while not required to take part with the newcomers, came out with the freshman and transfers to get some extra work in and show the new guys the ropes in the first half-hour of practice.


I mentioned former Cougar Kelly Poppinga working as a GA/intern with Coach Paul Tidwell yesterday. I should also note former BYU lineman Shaun Nua is currently assisting DL coach Steve Kaufusi.


Bronco Mendenhall is essentially the full-time Nose Tackles coach now. In position breakups and drills, Bronco breaks away and focuses solely on the noses, acting as any position coach would with his group. And he is very vocal with them--more so than at any point I have seen him in the last few seasons. When I say "vocal," I don't necessarily mean loud yelling; I mean "chatter," encouragement, even a little lightheartedness at times. He's been excited, energetic and very hands-on.

It's been very interesting to watch Bronco the last couple of days--for as much as he has shied away from the word "fun" in the past, he is having fun with his guys right now. It's very noticeable, not just with the nose tackles, but all over the field.

Listen to the tail end of today's interview to hear Bronco talk about this new self-assignment with the nose tackles.


Early field goal work had Mitch Payne making three short ones, and missing four longer ones. One attempt was blocked. In a "live" FG drill later in practice, Scott Johnson got in on the edge to block a roughly 35-yard attempt. All of Payne's PATs (in blue zone and "Team") were good.

WR Matt Marshall remains the first-string holder for deep snapper John Pace.


Punt returners today:

WR McKay Jacobson

WR J.D. Falslev


Kickoff return parings:

O'Neill Chambers/Garrett Nicholson

McKay Jacobson/Luke Ashworth

Cody Hoffman/J.D. Falslev


Impressions from the various drills and sessions:


Max Hall was throwing a nice deep ball today, making repeated connections with Chambers, Jacobson and Ashworth in both one-one-one and live snaps.

In the "Blue Zone" sequences, the offense performed well--Hall throwing touchdown passes to Jacobson (over Brandon Bradley), Spencer Hafoka (beautiful fade over Corby Eason) and Dennis Pitta (slant) in his three series from the 20-yard line. Brenden Gaskins' series resulted in a field goal, while Riley Nelson got in for only one series, and a bad snap over his head on first down ended the series.

Spencer Hafoka in particular looked good today, I thought.

J.J. DiLuigi showed bounce and speed in a couple of touches in "Blue Zone" and "Team."

I guess I had forgotten that Nelson was a lefty--it just hit me while watching him that I had overlooked that observation on Saturday.

CBs Brandon Bradley and Brian Logan were involved in pass breakups (both drills and live), and Andrew Rich intercepted Gaskins in a "skelly" session.

In "Team," CB Corby Eason broke up a pass intended for Jacobson--a very nice play that got the defense particularly excited. In short, I think the play of the defensive secondary has been an early storyline and a pleasing aspect of the first couple of days of camp. Of note, Bronco's been impressed with the number of third-down knockdowns. The coach adds that he likes the defensive backfield depth for the the "first time in three years."

The "Team" session concluded with Andrew George making a catch to set up a first-and-goal that resulted in a de facto Harvey Unga touchdown scamper.


Now, to the "day two" depth chart. Players moving up within the two-deep up are noted in bold.


LT: Matt Reynolds, Terrence Alletto

LG: Jason Speredon, Ryan Freeman

C: R.J. Willing, Marco Thorson

RG: Terence Brown, Houston Reynolds/Fono Vakalahi

RT: Nick Alletto, Braden Hansen

Note: Hansen also played some left tackle with the "ones," and Houston Reynolds also played third-string center.


TE: Dennis Pitta, Andrew George, Braden Brown, Mike Muehlmann

WR (X): O'Neill Chambers, Spencer Hafoka, Cody Hoffman, Mitch Mathews, Rhen Brown

WR (Z): McKay Jacobson, Luke Ashworth, B.J. Peterson, Brett Thompson, J.D. Falslev

WR Notes: Outside receivers are to be able to play both X and Z. While the pattern run will depend on formation and play call, "X" receivers line up left, while "Z" receivers line up right. For example, a receiver could line up as an "X," but then motion could change formation strength and require the "X" to run the "Z" pattern, and vice versa. Basically, however, "X" lines up left and "Z" lines up right--trust me on this.

WR (H): Matt Marshall, Stephen Covey, Parker Mangum, Matt Edwards

TB: Harvey Unga, J.J. DiLuigi, Malosi Te'o

FB: (note: Manase Tonga assumes the #1 spot if and when he arrives) Bryan Kariya, Anthony Heimuli, Mike Hague

QB: Max Hall, Brenden Gaskins, Riley Nelson



LE: Brett Denney, Matt Putnam, Steven Fisher

NT: Russell Tialavea, Tevita Hola, Romney Fuga, Jordan Richardson

RE: Jan Jorgensen, Vic So'oto, Matt Peterson

SLB: Grant Nelson, Jordan Pendleton, Jameson Frazier/Richard Wlson

MLB: Matt Bauman, Brandon Ogletree, Shane Hunter

BLB: (Terrance Hooks--out, injury)Shawn Doman, Dan Van Sweden, Blake McKenzie

WLB: Coleby Clawson, Jordan Atkinson, Jordan Winger, Chase Hansen

FC: Robbie Buckner, Brian Logan, Corby Eason, Garrett Nicholson

BC: Brandon Bradley, Lee Aguirre, Steven Thomas, Landon Jaussi

Kat: Andrew Rich, Shiloah Te'o, Jray Galea'i, Carter Mees

Free: Scott Johnson, Travis Uale, Craig Bills, Zeke Mendenhall


After Brandon Bradley, CB Garrett Nicholson (a redshirt last season) had the most returning experience as a Cougar corner coming into camp, but he has yet to break into the top three at field corner. Considering who's ahead of him (Buckner and two JUCOs), Nicholson has a seemingly steep hill to climb at that spot.


Players put the shoulder pads on for the first time tomorrow morning--the entire team (no more newcomer/veteran split) starts the morning session at 10:00am.


A couple of field goal and PAT kicks sailed through through the trees on the west fence line and thudded (okay, crashed) into parked cars on the other side of the fence. Apparently, the sound was worse than the damage, if there was any. But, as I was parked in the vicinity, I found myself cringing with every kick.


BYU Basketball players Jackson Emery, Tyler Haws, Logan Magnusson and Mike Loyd were among the hoopsters who stopped by to watch a few minutes of practice. They had just been to LaVell Edwards Stadium for stair-running. Good day for that; nice and hot.



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