Camp Cougar, Day 7

Camp Cougar, Day 7

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Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

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(Images: BYU Photos)

On a wet, cloudy, windy day that felt more like October 15th than August 15th, the Cougars hit the new turf at Lavell Edwards Stadium for the first time this morning.


The original plan was for a 70-play scrimmage, but after a taxing week health-wise, Bronco Mendenhall scaled back today's exercise to fewer than 50 plays over eight series, which followed a full hour of practice.


Max Hall led the first-string offense to only a single touchdown, and it came on his final series (the seventh of the scrimmage), when he found McKay Jacobson for a 12-yard scoring toss.

The scoring drive included numerous penalties, most of them against the offense--at one point, Hall's unit was facing first-and goal from the 36-yard line.


On the day, Hall had impressive numbers: 18/21 passing for 189 yards and the one touchdown. His favorite target was TE Andrew George, who caught five balls for 90 yards (TE Dennis Pitta was held out of "live" work today).

With Harvey Unga also being held out of live contact, nothing much was happening in the run game, with J.J. DiLuigi and Bryan Kariya getting the bulk of the carries.


The most consistent drive for the offense came on Hall's first series of the day. After pass completions to George, McKay Jacobson (4 receptions, 39 yards, TD), O'Neill Chambers, George again and Jacobson again, the offense was facing first-and-goal.

Bryan Kariya was then stopped by Craig Bills (filling for a great hit!), J.J. DiLuigi was undercut on second down, and on third down, a mis-communication led to a broken play, a throwaway, and a short field goal by Mitch Payne.


Speaking of short kicks, BYU tried three kickoffs to start the scrimmage, and after a full season of Justin Sorensen booming kicks into the end zone, it was back to reality: the three kickoffs were fielded at the eight yard-line (Payne), 12 yard-line (Riley Stephenson), and the 10 yard-line (Payne).

I asked Bronco about how much BYU will miss Sorensen this season, and his answer hinted at a "different philosophy or strategy from last season," relative to kickoff coverage. Translation: this season, the kickoff cover unit will actually have to do more than run down the field and into the end zone.


Today's mix-n-match kickoff return pairings:




Jacobson remains the primary punt returner, while he and Chambers should be considered the top kickoff return duo.


Toady's post-practice interviews are with Bronco, Max Hall and LB Matt Bauman.

Hall starts by addressing his team's current offensive line health woes, while Bauman begins by discussing the bumps and bruises in the linebacking corps.


LB Grant Nelson was playing today, despite a shoulder separation earlier in the week, but backer Shawn Doman was held out--"wear and tear," said the coach.

Similarly, DE Brett Denney was on the sidelines taking part in conditioning activities, as were DE Jordan Richardson (foot sprain), LB Jordan Atkinson (groin), WR Mitch Mathews (ankle), CB Robbie Buckner (hamstring), LB Terrance Hooks (hamstring) and OL Houston Reynolds (quad strain).


The offensive line combinations were essentially the same as they were yesterday--the first day without Jason Speredon in the lineup.

Marco Thorson played with the first-string at left guard, with Ryan Mulitalo backing him up. Ryan Freeman (also a left guard earlier in the week) saw most of his time backing up and switching with R.J. Willing at center.

Bronco told me he "likes" Thorson, and thinks he's capable. The coach noted that almost every offensive lineman will be "cross-training," to establish depth.


With the number of players held out due to injury and precaution, I will not post an updated depth chart; the next update will come on Monday.

However, here are a few depth notes from today:

In Brett Denney's absence, Matt Putnam was the #1 LE

In Shawn Doman's absence, Jeff Bell was the #1 BLB

In Jordan Atkinson's absence, Chase Hansen was the #2 WLB

With Steven Thomas returning to practice, he was the #2 FS, with Craig Bills running with the "ones" and starter Scott Johnson getting only a few live reps.


McKay Jacobson had the nicest catch of the day, reaching back while falling to haul in a 10-yard reception on a 3rd and 6 in the opening drive of the scrimmage.


Both of Brenden Gaskins' series were three-and-outs, while Riley Nelson didn't have much better luck in his two series. Of Max Hall's four series, one resulted in a touchdown, one resulted in a field goal, one was a three-and-out, and the remaining series resulted in a single first-down before stalling.


"Faces in the Crowd": BYU President Elder Cecil O. Samuelson, Vice-President Kevin Worthen, AD Tom Holmoe.

Fun moment: President Samuelson was afforded the honor of giving the defensive line their "huddle break command" as they ran out on to the field to start practice. He did a great job: "D-Line, GO!!," and the guys ran out in a good mood.


The replaced sod surface at LES held up well to the punishment on a wet day. Fans who haven't seen the new surface will get a unique appreciation of it the lower they are, since the old "crown" has been all but totally removed.

With the lines painted and only the BYU and conference logos missing, the field looked ready for gameday.


Another day of two-a-days is set for Monday, with Bronco saying he will do some thinking over the weekend before determining the work load for the remainder of camp.

The coach says the "big dilemma" is balancing the need for physical work with the need for injury prevention. Clearly, this has been a costly week, and BYU can sorely afford to lose any more key players for extended periods of time.

Bronco adds his team "got a lot done" in week one.



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