BYU practice report: "Still a lot of urgency."
Media was not allowed to watch any parts of the BYU football practice this morning, but BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall did talk to reporters for about seven minutes after the drills, and said the guys didn't take it easy just because camp is winding down. They will practice again Friday night, and then on Saturday morning, in what will officially be the end of camp. "The number of periods was less, but what we were trying to get done there was still a lot of urgency," Mendenhall said. "It will be the exact same format this afternoon. Not a ton of periods, but the same focus. What happens at the beginning of camp is there are so many things to assess. Now, there are a few things that we want to see here or there. We will look at those again this afternoon, and then one more [practice] tomorrow." Usually, Mendenhall gives the team a day off during camp and takes it on a team activity. They've floated the Provo River, gone to Provo Beach Resort, gone to a movie, etc. Nothing of the sort this year, though. "We haven't. Basically I have substituted a lot of activities just to be with my team at the end [of practice], doing different kinds of challenges, etc. And it is not like floating the river, but with this particular team, I have taken a different approach, based on what I think they need," Mendenhall said. To no one's surprise, Mendenhall believes his practice model this year worked. But he acknowledged that won't be known until some games are played. "Not one significant injury caused by practice for all of camp, which is, I don't ever remember saying that, which is really good. There are some minor injuries, but no majors, so I would say that's a great thing. Now, with two weeks to go until we play, building now intensity, specificity, execution, all that, we still have work to go, but we have a healthy team going into game prep, which, that was my goal." Couple of other tidbits from conversations after practice with Mendenhall, linebackers coach Paul Tidwell, and starting inside linebacker Uona Kaveinga: * Mendenhall said he might name captains on Saturday night, or it could wait until Monday. "We are still kinda going by feel on that," he said. * Mendenhall said the team is as healthy as he can remember heading into game prep week. Hopefully, when we play it will show. But I know right now we have a full, healthy team going into game prep, with two weeks to go. As a coach and a leader, that's a good position to be in," he said. * Mendenhall said there are no new developments in the kicking game, specifically in regards to Justin Sorensen's status. "The biggest question, and will be, and you will be able to assess as well as I, when Justin starts kicking. The longer it takes, the more risk. The shorter it takes, the less risk. We will just keep on monitoring that. We are preparing other options, just in case." * I asked Mendenhall if the kicking situation is keeping him awake at night. "In terms of biggest concern, if there is one, it is probably that [kicking situation]. Just because we haven't done much work, and then the work we do won't be really in live settings, to know where that is. I am just talking about kicking the ball for accuracy and depth." * Mendenhall was pleased with Thursday's scrimmage after watching it on film a couple of times. "Just I thought our offensive line was a lot cleaner in their blocking in terms of assignments and targeting. Not many guys were cut loose. It gave us a great chance to see secondary tackling and linebacker tackling, with kind of a mismatch between one offensive front vs. two or three defensive front. With the number of balls that made it to the next level, we had a really good chance to assess linebacker and safety tackling. I thought just cleaner play in general. I thought it was a really good crew that was here to officiate. There wasn't a single holding call. I was encouraged by the cleaner play than I had expected," he said. * Inside linebackers coach Paul Tidwell shared his two-deep with me regarding who will be the primary starters and backups at the inside linebacker positions. Seniors Uona Kaveinga and Brandon Ogletree, returning starters, will be the starters again in 2012, with Kaveinga at mike and Ogletree at buck. Tidwell said things could change, but right now sophomore Zac Stout will be Kaveinga's primary backup at mike, and freshman Manoa Pikula will be Ogletree's backup at buck. Others in the mix that could play are senior Austen Jorgensen, junior Tyler Beck and Oregon State transfer Uani Unga, a junior. * Uona Kaveinga said he has yet to play in either scrimmage, but not because he's not 100 percent. Coaches know what he can do, and want to keep him healthy for the opener against Washington State. "I am 100 percent healthy. I feel great," Kaveinga said. "I am so, so ready to play a game."