Head coach Bronco Mendenhall indicated that the Brigham Young Cougars have only two days of fall camp left until they start their game preparations for the season opener on September 4. With fall camp winding down, its time to take a look at how camp has gone and where the team stands.
The defense is starting to take shape. The front seven has filled in, more or less. The down linemen are playing pretty well. Vic So'oto and Eathyn Manumaleuna are regularly pressuring the quarterbacks and registering sacks. That is a good sign considering the offensive line is the best and deepest unit on the team. The linebackers are getting good reviews. The starting line up isn't set in stone yet, but the feeling seems to be that all of the guys fighting for the spots will be quality players. Jordan Pendleton is the biggest concern. He has been kept out of contact to allow a torn muscle to heal. Coaches think that he will be ready for the first game.
The secondary was in good shape at the start of camp. The only task was to identify a new free safety. Mendenhall has said that he and Defensive Coordinator Jamie Hill are comfortable with Steve Thomas at that spot. He is demonstrating good decision making with play calls and even intercepted a pass in recently. This eases a lot of concerns for me. It appears the secondary will be very strong this year, and the rest of the D won't be too far behind.
The only thing lacking on offense is a quarterback. Running backs are coming into their own. They are catching the ball well out of the backfield and gaining good chunks of yards after the catch. They are picking up yards on the ground and scoring touchdowns in short yardage situations. The offensive line has been the anchor that we all expected. The wide receivers are playing well, except for several dropped balls in recent days. The drops are a problem on two levels. First, the obvious reason is that nothing else matters if you don't catch the ball. Second, it is making it harder to evaluate the quarterbacks.
Riley Nelson and Jake Heaps are clearly the top 2. Just when it looked like Heaps was going to make a move and create some separation, the receivers started dropping his passes. Heaps' stat line started to look bad. At the same time, Nelson started putting up better numbers, however, it was often against the second string defense. At this point, my gut is telling me that Bronco Mendenhall is going to do just what he described nearly a month ago--use two quarterbacks for the first couple of games. As a general rule, using two quarterbacks is a bad idea. It's almost like using two centers--it just doesn't make sense. However, I do find some level of relief with the fact that each quarterback has his own package. When the University of Florida has success with a two quarterback system in 2006, Urban Meyer claimed that the system worked because each QB had his own package of plays that were different, therefore, the two QBs could co-exist without dividing the team or negatively affecting the QBs mentally.
While many uncertainties still exist with the 2010 edition of BYU football, the pieces seem to be in place for another year of great memories and fun.
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