More on the transformation of BYU's offensive line
BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall altered media access times for preseason camp practices this week, which means there will be no reports from the Cougars' 12th practice session Monday morning. There is access this afternoon, but the media is allowed to watch just the last half-hour of practice, then do interviews. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will return to normal (almost), with access in the morning. However, unlike last week, reporters get to watch just the last half-hour of the practices. It will be interesting to find out from Mendenhall tonight why he made the changes midstream. It was kind of a newsy weekend for BYU away from preseason camp, as both football coaches and basketball coaches got commitments from recruits. Orem High basketball star Dalton Nixon committed to coach Dave Rose and Darrin Laufasa, a running back from Bothell, Wash., committed to Mendenhall. Also, the Daily Universe reported that former BYU RB Joshua Quezada will transfer to Fresno State. Quezada reportedly joined the LDS Church on Saturday and was baptized by his former backfield mate, Bryan Kariya. Here's a quick look from today's paper about the Cougars resuming practice this week, and some of the position battles that are tightening up, or becoming solidified. In case you missed it, we had this notebook over the weekend (online only) about how much Mendenhall is liking the athleticism of this year's secondary. Sunday's newspaper included a longer article on how BYU's offensive linemen are in better shape this preseason camp, thanks to a rather rigorous offseason workout schedule, and the addition of a nutritionist to BYU's staff. I spent a good chunk of time with offensive line coach Mark Weber while putting together the story, so, as usual, there was some stuff that hit the cutting room floor, as it were. A few leftover comments from Weber: On whether there is cause to be concerned with so many guys missing practices due to injury: "No, not at all. We are being smart. Nicks and bumps and bruises. Some of the guys could have gone if we were playing a game. This is not a sprint. It is a marathon. To be productive, and make gains throughout fall camp, that's part of the deal." On why OL Braden Hansen not with ones:"There were expectations put on the guys, for when they returned from summer time, and some of them have not met the expectations. So until they do, they won't be in the first group. We won't do that." On whether the fitness test was part of the expectation: "Yes." On which spots along the offensive line are most open:"I would say both guards, and the center spot is open. There is not a clearcut starter yet. The guys who are out here and working, and able to meet the criteria that we ask for them, those are the guys that are going to be the starters. A lot of guys will play." On how it seems that the tackle spots are pretty set: "Braden Brown's position is pretty set. Ryker Mathews is doing a heckuva job on the other side." On any players who have taken it to heart more than others: "Brock Stringham is about 14 percent body fat. Braden Brown is about 15-16 percent body fat. The key is not their body weight. The key is their lean muscle mass. Because if you have a 300 or 320 pounder and his lean muscle mass is only 220 pounds, that is not enough to play Division I football. But if you have a 300 pounder and he is 240 pounds of lean muscle mass, now you are talking about a fine athlete. So that's what these guys have done. Braden Hansen's body fat is down considerably and his lean muscle mass is up. So he's more fit than he was. He probably has the most marked change, Braden Hansen. Braden Brown, the thing everybody sees is his upper body. Brock Stringham did a tremendous job. And Ryan Freeman they have all changed their bodies." On whether the impetus came from him, or Bronco, or both:"I think it all contributes. It is hard for just one guy to do something. It is coach Mendenhall's desire. He put forth the actions not just talking about it. He put forth actions to change the program. Then we all have to be on board. Because if we are not supporting it as assistants, it doesn't fly. It is definitely a program-wide thing that started with coach Mendenhall. Then it is just working on mindset every single day and then education. They have been thoroughly educated on nutrition. They are not perfect yet, but their choices are way different as far as everything from eating, from getting treatments, from what they do before practice, from what they do after practice. It is the entire program. And that all comes from coach Mendenhall. We are on the same page, coach Mendenhall, Brandon Doman and me, with my position."