Cougar Tracks by Greg Wrubell
During BYU's first "Oklahoma" practice (18 periods, "shells") of the preseason, the day's most significant news was the formation of the scout teams—-who's on them, and in one case, who switched sides of the ball.
Here we go:
Scout Team-Offense (21 players)
Offensive Line: Tui Crichton, Terrence Alletto, Ryan Mulitalo, Fono Vakalahi, Andrew Crawford
Tight Ends: Mike Muehlmann, Richard Wilson (switch from SLB)
Running Backs: Malosi Te'o, Anthony Heimuli, Peni Maka'afi, David Foote, JoJo Pili
Wide Receivers: Rhen Brown, Stephen Covey, Cody Hoffman, Mitch Mathews, Parker Mangum, Matt Edwards, J.D. Falslev
Quarterbacks: Josh Hamblin, Brad Sorensen
Scout Team-Defense (19 players)
Defensive Line: Jordan Richardson, Remington Peck, Steven Fisher, Mason Higham, Matt Peterson, Jadon Wagner
Outside Linebacker: Jordan Winger, Chase Hansen
Inside Linebacker: Dan Van Sweden, Jeff Bell, Blake McKenzie, Jared Richardson
Cornerbacks: Corby Eason (eligibility precaution), Landon Jaussi, Trevor Bateman
Safeties: Blake Morgan, Travis Uale, Zeke Mendenhall, Carter Mees
The other news is that many previously injured players were participating to some extent—and that included Harvey Unga (hamstring), Matt Reynolds (hand), Lee Aguirre (elbow) and Scott Johnson (concussion). McKay Jacobson (illness/mild concussion), who missed two days of practice earlier in the week, was also practicing.
Unga, Johnson and Jacobson were kept out of contact today.
WRs Spencer Hafoka and J.D. Falslev did not participate on the field this morning. Hafoka is actually feeling sick again, while Falslev has a concussion. They were the only two players not taking part in practice.
Bronco says he and Hafoka are concerned, because the symptoms are of the illnesses (pneumonia/influenza/asthma) that leveled Hafoka during the winter, causing him to withdraw from classes.
If Hafoka is out for any period of time, Brett Thompson has the edge on B.J. Peterson for the role of #4 receiver.
CB Garrett Nicholson was not present, and Coach Bronco Mendenhall says he needs to clear up an academic issue (see below).
Listen to Bronco's entire post-practice interview by clicking his audio link in the "Cougar Cuts" box to the upper right.
In an encouraging development, LT Matt Reynolds actually took "live" snaps today. At times when Reynolds was in, Braden Hansen slid over to take some more snaps at LG. Also taking left guard snaps today was Ryan Freeman, in addition to regular starter Marco Thorson. In all, the seven "main" offensive linemen have been identified—some of whom will be played at multiple positions.
Team captains were announced today: Max Hall, Dennis Pitta, Matt Bauman, Scott Johnson and Jan Jorgensen (all seniors).
Academic concerns relative to classes at BYU kept corner Garrett Nicholson off the field altogether today, while corner Corby Eason is on the scout team, until an NCAA Clearinghouse issue can be resolved.
Bronco confirmed that if he "were to go with today," Mitch Payne is his field goal/PAT and kickoff man, with Riley Stephenson handling punting.
Kickoff note: in 2007, BYU had one Mitch Payne touchback in 72 attempts (1.3%). In 2008, BYU had 32 Justin Sorensen touchbacks in 83 kickoffs (39%). That number ranked 5th nationally, while the national average was only a 12% touchback rate.
By the numbers, BYU covered kickoffs much better in 2007, ranking 8th nationally and allowing only 18.17 yards per return. In 2008, BYU allowed 21.9 yards per return (79th). It makes sense; shallower kicks make for quicker coverage, while deeper kicks allow more "open" return time.
However, the yards allowed stat on its own can be misleading; a kickoff that goes to the 10-yard line with an 18-yard return sets the receiving team up at the 28-yard line. A kickoff that goes to the goal line with a 22-yard return has the receiving team snapping at the 22, of course.
Verdict: deeper kicks are better. Like you didn't already know that.
Programming Note: KSL Newsradio will broadcast a one-hour "Cougar-Sooner Showdown" special from 12:00pm-1:00pm next Friday, September 4th, originating in our broadcast booth at Cowboys Stadium.
I taped an interview with Dallas-area native McKay Jacobson today that we will air during that show. In addition, BYU AD Tom Holmoe is a scheduled in-booth guest, as are officials from both the Dallas Cowboys and the Stadium management. It is hoped a representative from Oklahoma will also be on board.
Marc Lyons will be joining me in the booth for the broadcast, so tune for the "show before the Show," next Friday at noon on KSL Newsradio!
Back to the scout team decisions for a moment...
Clearly, Corby Eason's appearance there was interesting, but explained by Bronco.
Richard Wilson's flip-flop was also addressed by Bronco, who is looking to fill needs at the tight end spot next season. Having said that, Braden Brown, Mike Muehlmann, Wilson, Kyle Van Noy (also LB?), Austin Holt and Devin Mahina (also DE?) give BYU some options next season. Perhaps not all will remain at TE, but the position is potentially loaded.
Rhen Brown was singled out by Bronco a couple of times in the preseason, but joins Mathews and Hoffman as high-profile potential redshirts at wideout. J.D. Falslev is also a Bronco favorite, but is likely to redshirt.
Stephen Covey remains the #2 "H" receiver, but his designation likely means "H" snaps will be limited, and when they come, they will go to Matt Marshall. More likely, slot snaps (other than those taken by Marshasll) will be taken by a split-out tight end.
While the "official" depth chart is not yet out, here's the "Cougar Tracks" version...
Depth Chart, Oklahoma:
LT: Matt Reynolds, Braden Hansen
LG: Marco Thorson or Braden Hansen, Ryan Freeman
C: R.J. Willing, Marco Thorson or Ryan Freeman
RG: Terence Brown, Ryan Freeman
RT: Nick Alletto or Braden Hansen
TE: Dennis Pitta, Andrew George, Braden Brown
WR (X): O'Neill Chambers, Spencer Hafoka or Brett Thompson
WR (Z): McKay Jacobson, Luke Ashworth
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.
WR (H): Matt Marshall
TB: Harvey Unga, J.J. DiLuigi
FB: Manase Tonga, Bryan Kariya
QB: Max Hall, Riley Nelson
LE: Brett Denney, Matt Putnam
NT: Russell Tialavea, Tevita Hola or Romney Fuga
RE: Jan Jorgensen, Vic So'oto
(note: RE and LE are inter-changeable)
SLB: Jordan Pendleton, Grant Nelson
MLB: Matt Bauman, Brandon Ogletree
BLB: Terrance Hooks or Shawn Doman
WLB: Coleby Clawson, Jordan Atkinson
FC: Brian Logan or Robbie Buckner
BC: Brandon Bradley or Lee Aguirre
Kat: Andrew Rich, Shiloah Te'o
Free: Scott Johnson, Craig Bills
FG/PAT: Mitch Payne, Riley Stephenson
P: Riley Stephenson
KO: Mitch Payne, Riley Stephenson
LS: John Pace
H: Matt Marshall
PR/KOR: McKay Jacobson, O'Neill Chambers