BYU practice report: Excessive hitting, a little fighting spurs a "teachable moment"
Just a few plays into BYU's final team (11-on-11) session at practice Tuesday morning, things got really interesting. Players were wearing helmets and shoulder pads, but there wasn't supposed to be any big hitting just playing to the thump and nobody was supposed to be knocked down. There was a bit of a collision between running back David Foote and linebacker Brandon Ogletree, and some wolfing ensued. Next play, safety Daniel Sorensen laid a big hit on running back Michael Alisa, knocking him down, and when Alisa jumped up and knocked Sorensen's helmet off with a blow to the head, a brief scuffle ensued. Sorensen and Ogletree headed to the showers, and something was said that really must have irritated head coach Bronco Mendenhall, because the head coach prematurely ended practice and had trainers and managers set up an obstacle course, gauntlet-type deal at the southwest corner of the practice field. Players had to jump over blocking dummies, run shuttles, do pushups and then totally immerse themselves in the ice-cold pools of water at the end of the drill. Suffice it to say, there were not a lot of happy campers. Receiver Ross Apo compared the drill to the TV show called "Two Weeks of Hell." I asked Mendenhall if the drill was punishment for the hits and physical play: "Uh, I would say it was a teachable moment," he said. Earlier, the coach answered a question about the excessive hitting by saying, "that's why we did what we just did." Clearly, there is more conditioning going on at this preseason camp than ever before. But this particular drill was not planned. "I expect them to come in better conditioned. I would like them to maintain it and build on it. So just trying to do my part as the head coach to help, and have a little fun," Mendenhall said with a half-smile. "You [media] guys are welcome to participate in that drill at the end if you would like. I thought it would go over better than that." The coach said the drill was "completely made up. Seriously." The big news at practice Tuesday was that receiver Cody Hoffman and safety Joe Sampson were held out again for the fourth-straight practice for disciplinary issues. Mendenhall said he isn't concerned that the twosome has not met the criteria yet to return. Asked if it was still indefinite, he said: "Uh, yeah. Maybe as early as tomorrow, but the same answer as yesterday: we will go until I feel great about where they are." He was asked if their situations are related or if it is just a coincidence that they are both out at same time. "Kinda both. I wouldn't be worried though. When they come back out to practice, whenever that is, we will all be happy," he said. Mendenhall said he met with kicker Justin Sorensen on Monday and that Sorensen will see doctors about his back issues today, and also to have an MRI. "He wanted to be on the same page, to make sure I was communicated with, and it was great for me to give him direction. Anytime guys are out, there's a sense of urgency. They want to get out. I don't want them cutting corners. I don't want the system to have cut corners. I want them to be healthy for the season, and I want them to practice appropriately when they are ready," he said. Doe he expect Sorensen to kick for the Cougars this season? "Yeah, hopefully in the opener," he said. A couple of players who have committed to play for BYU were at practice on Tuesday. Billy Green, the quarterback from Washington, was here with his father and younger brother. Michael Davis, the speedy receiver from California, a track star, was here with a family member.