Provo • If the first full week of training camp and Saturday’s 70-play scrimmage at LaVell Edwards proved anything, it is that BYU’s coaches are serious about putting former University of Utah running back Harvey Langi on the field this season - the defensive side of the field.
Langi, who garnered statewide headlines on July 7 when he announced he hoped to transfer from Utah to BYU upon returning from an LDS Church mission to Tampa, Fla., started at inside linebacker in the scrimmage.
It is not likely that Langi will start there in the opener against UConn on Aug. 29 because projected starters Manoa Pikula (academics) and Zac Stout (hamstring) were unavailable to play in the scrimmage, but both head coach Bronco Mendenhall and defensive coordinator Nick Howell said on Saturday that Langi will see playing time.
“Yeah, Harvey is going to play this season, and it will be an active role,” Mendenhall said. “He’s done a nice job so far in seven or eight practices, and he’s a great fit for our program. He’s also a good football player.”
Reporters cannot interview Langi until after the first game, per program rules, because he is considered a newcomer.
“Yes, yup, yup,” Howell said Saturday, when asked if Langi will play. “And I hope a lot, because he is really good. He just has to take care of his body.”
Another candidate for a starting ILB spot, junior Jherremya Leuta-Douyere, led the defense in tackles with six. Langi, freshman Fred Warner, sophomore Austin Heder and seniors Mike Alisa and Skye PoVey had three takedowns apiece.
Howell acknowledged that not having Pikula on the field yet in camp is “frustrating,” but he said there is “plenty of depth” at the position, thanks to Langi’s arrival.
“Manoa is a guy that we love, and he is a player. When push comes to shove, he is going to be on the field because he is one of our best guys. We just got to get him caught back up to speed. I think when we play UConn you are going to see No. 22 out there making a lot of plays. We just got to get him right back up to speed,” Howell said.
Wow, that’s early
In less than two weeks, when they begin game-week preparation for UConn, the Cougars will report for team meetings at 6 a.m. and begin practicing soon after that, a football spokesperson acknowledged last week. During coach Bronco Mendenhall’s 10-year tenure, practices have generally been held from 4-6 p.m. once the season starts.
Players were told about the change during spring camp and were directed to schedule their fall semester classes in the late mornings, afternoons and evenings.
Mendenhall believes the time change will help players more easily get into high-demand classes their majors require that are most often held in the afternoon.
The other Harvey
Another Harvey who is having an outstanding camp is Harvey Jackson, the transfer from Nebraska. He started at one of the safety positions on Saturday because many projected starters were held out, including Craig Bills, whom Mendenhall said “is a little banged up with a hip flexor.”
“In the secondary, there are quite a few combinations [coaches could use], and Harvey is establishing his role,” Mendenhall said. “It might be at nickel, it might be as a starting safety, it might be special teams. So one week isn’t enough for me to say what role he will play.”
Pick that tune
A lot of fans who attended the two open practices on campus and Saturday’s scrimmage at LES have asked about the music being played non-stop, an eclectic mix of country, reggae, 1980s pop and some more current stuff. Mendenhall said new director of football operations Zach Nyborg is picking the tunes. “The playlists are coming from him,” Mendenhall said.
BYU’s Next Open Scrimmage
When: Friday, 6 p.m.
Where: LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo
Admission: Gates 1 and 4 on the West side open at 5 p.m.