In case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s my report for the newspaper about BYU’s first day of spring camp, 2014.
The Cougars will take today (Tuesday) off, and get back at it on Wednesday. Basically, they will go every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the next five weeks.
It hasn’t been determined yet when they will conduct their annual Blue-White spring scrimmage. My guess would be Friday, March 28 or Saturday, March 29, based on what they did last year.
In the story I listed the players who are not practicing yet, or won’t practice at all, due to offseason injuries or surgeries.
To that list add defensive back Sam Lee, a juco transfer who is still nursing a bad back.
Several readers have asked why offensive lineman Brad Wilcox, a 6-foot-7, 300-pounder from Edmond, Okla., is not on the roster handed out by BYU on Monday. My answer is that I don’t know. I will try to remember to ask on Wednesday. A returned missionary, Wilcox played in all 13 games last year as a redshirt freshman.
There was a familiar face on the sidelines Monday; Former BYU defensive back Brandon Bradley has returned to the program from Snow College and will be a defensive graduate assistant. He replaces Jason Walker.
The other grad assistants are the same: Matt Edwards (offense), Andrew George (offense) and Shane Hunter (defense). All four grad assistants played for the Cougars.
There was another returnee by the name of Zac Stout. Remember Stout? He left the program in November of 2012 after his involvement in an off-campus scuffle at the Provo Rancherito’s 24-hour restaurant on Halloween Night.
"It seems like a long time ago," coach Bronco Mendenhall said Monday. "So when Zac left, and he’s coming back as a walk-on, without a scholarship, to re-earn it, he’s not only qualified credits wise, he’s been taking classes, but so ecclesiastically and standards-wise, he has met everything the dean of students has asked him to do. So it is fun that he has done all that, and battled to get back. And now hopefully he will re-earn a scholarship through the fall, and then it will be a complete, happy ending."
Couple of position moves that I haven’t mentioned either in my camp preview article or Monday’s article:
* Defensive back Dallin Leavitt has moved from cornerback to safety and will compete for some playing time there.
* Josh Carter, a 6-foot-5, 296-pound senior from Tucson, Ariz. by way of Eastern Arizona Community College, has moved from offensive line to defensive line.
Offensive lineman Brayden Kearsley wasn’t out there Monday. Here’s why:
"Academics," Mendenhall said. "So there are a number of players [out due to academics]. He comes right to mind, and I will draw a blank on anyone else. Until there is at least a minimum that I feel comfortable, spring ball-wise, then there isn’t practice [for guys struggling in the class room]."
Here’s Mendenhall’s opening comment after Day I of 15 scheduled practices:
"Man, great to be back on the football field again. It seems like it is a long time ago since the season, and it seems like it was not so long ago. I thought our team worked hard today.
Certainly starting from a lot different place from a year ago offensively, in terms of a year ago and how much they know about the new system.
A few positions are behind — wide receiver, without many returning players there. Or the ones that are returning being injured. So those guys are trying to catch up. They are kinda controlling the pace right now.
But Taysom, the running backs, the tight ends, the offensive line, that part has picked up much where they left off.
Defensively, more players to replace, but more depth at defensive line that what we have had in quite some time. A few position changes, but I really like the combination of Bronson Kaufusi and Alani Fua at outside ‘backer. That looked good today.
Then Trenton Trammell looked really good at corner. So he and Rob Daniel with the addition of the freshman Michael Shelton, we looked more athletic at corner than we have for awhile. So those were my first impressions."
A few other comments from Mendenhall:
On the offensive line’s depth on Day I:
"First of all, a little bit more depth than what we have had in spring, so I like that. And then some experienced players. We did move Tuni Kanuch to guard from nose tackle, and that’s made a nice difference inside. We are really physical and he is strong there, so I like that.
It is almost like having a junior college player come in at guard, so I like that. Then a freshman off his mission, Lui Lapuaho, I liked him a lot today, too.
Two new faces on the offensive front, and then we got Jordan Black back, so it was good to have him in there."
On what he hopes to accomplish over the course of the next five weeks:
"Man, quite a bit. So I would say if we were looking at our program, what we have to improve: our ability to throw and protect and catch the football effectively, and consistently. So our pass game has to catch up to the run game, which I think it will. We have done a lot of self-scout and self-analysis that way.
I would like to see us focus on our blue-zone scoring, so our tight area, close to the goal line, I would like to see us get better at that. We won’t be as personnel-specific yet because we won’t have all our people until fall, but we got some concepts we really like there.
Inside linebacker, we need to establish some depth at that position. And then get a lot of work for the depth at D-line, and just et a lot of those guys work off their missions. So depth in some parts, some offensive focus in terms of catching the football, passing and protection. So our pass game and red zone and blue zone scoring.
And then defensively, just becoming the next version of what we normally are."
On the secondary’s potential as a group:
"We could be really athletic, when you talk about Jordan Johnson coming back also, in addition to both Trent and Rob [Daniel] with Craig Bills back, that could be a nice secondary in terms of athleticism and coverage ability. And then we have been impressed with Kai Nacua as a safety, and his athleticism, and so it doesn’t take long before you have about six players there that could be pretty dynamic, and then you add the outside backers, not only what we have now with Alani [Fua] and Bronson [Kaufusi], and the incoming guys we recruited, we look pretty athletic on the perimeters and the back end."
On the culture of go hard, go fast again and not emphasizing it as much in his opening comments:
"I like a lot where that is. So I guess it tells you just by not bringing it up that it has become so commonplace that what the intent is now is not to sacrifice efficiency or specificity for the pace, but to add those things to the pace. So that would be the next focus if I were to maybe summarize all that stuff I said at the beginning personell-wise. Now the intent is to go fast with now specificity and a little bit more efficiency from where we were a year ago, especially against the better opponents, scoring more points in those games. I think those things tie together."
On who the placekicker is in the fall:
"That’s a great question."
On whether another kicker is coming in the summer:
"I hope so."
On the receiving corps and the opportunities for others with Ross Apo and Mitch Mathews out:
"The two that are going to just worn out, Nick Kurtz is here as a junior college player, and Mike Davis, who moved over from corner to the original position we recruited him. Those two today just got tons and tons and tons of work and it was great. Before we get Mitch Mathews back. Before we get Ross Apo back. Before we get our two other junior college/transfer players coming in in the fall.
So that could look like our secondary in the fall. It doesn’t right now, though."
On skinny Bronson Kaufusi’s first day as OLB:
"Skinny Bronson, I like him. When you look to throw the ball to where ever he is, standing back where I was at the quarterback, you don’t see much on the other side of skinny Bronson, when you think wingspan and etc."
On his take on the Nick Saban Rule, or the 10-second rule that has been proposed to slow down offenses:
"I am not for it. I don’t think it has any impact on players’ safety. I don’t think there is any research that substantiates that. I think that there is a strong argument for the teams that like the offensive players all jammed together. There is more chance of injury being all jammed together than being all spread out. So I think there is a tradeoff there. If I saw research that was different, then I might change my mind. I think it is just one way for some of those that have some things that other don’t to try to prevent a different type of game, or warfare, to neutralize the playing field, and I don’t like it."
On whether Corey Edwards will be here this summer as a kicker:
"That is our kicker coming in this summer. That’s the media trivia for the summer. I am just not ready to name anybody yet. You gotta milk that one out of me. Nice work."
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