The Brigham Young Cougars defense has been the stars of spring practice. Day in and day out they have had the upper hand against the Cougar offense. Even without starters Kyle Van Noy, Preston Hadley, and Brandon Ogletree the defense continues to roll.
Coaches are continually singing praises about defensive players like Ezekiel Ansah, Manoa Pikula, and Mike Hague. The headlines for daily practice reports regularly boast about the defense. Here are a few:
BYU football: Defense dominates scrimmage, as expected
Defense Dominates Practice Session
Sorensen, Sampson leading Y. defense
BYU football: Cougar linebacker corps filled with steady performers
During the team scrimmage last Saturday, the defense allowed only four first downs and zero points. They forced two turnovers as well.
If you believe everything you read, there is hardly a weak link on the defense and there is quality depth going three deep at most positions. This is going to be a really good defense.
Not so fast.
The defense has also been the beneficiary of injuries on offense. The Cougar offense is fielding a makeshift offensive line. Besides Riley Nelson and Cody Hoffman, the quarterbacks and (healthy) receivers haven’t developed much timing. Defensive domination shouldn’t be a surprise.
This site has discussed some possible positives that could come out of the injuries, but the injuries could cause the defense to become the victim of overconfidence. Nothing would be more debilitating right now to the BYU defense than to be overconfident.
By dominating with relative ease, the defense can get a false sense of security that they can still get the job done even if they don’t give 100 percent effort. They can start to think that they can get the job done even if they have sloppy technique.
Spring practices serve as a springboard to summer. From April to August the team should be building on the work done during the spring. Overconfidence does the exact opposite.
If overconfident, the defensive players will relax during the summer. They will not push themselves during workouts. The workouts they show up to, that is. Overconfident players feel less of a need to attend "voluntary" workouts.
Bronco Mendenhall has two more practices to get his team ready for the summer. I like the approach he is taking. During practices this week, Mendenhall is starting the transition from practices run by the coaches to practices run by the players. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy described it as “this week is more of players running [practice] and coaches supervising.” As they supervise, Mendenhall and his staff would be wise to focus on giving corrective feedback by pointing out where players can improve and stressing their expectations for the workouts without being critical.
The Cougar defense has had many great moments this spring, but these players need to be wary of overconfidence. An overconfident attitude would have severe side effects. On the other hand, keeping their egos in check would set the stage for a great fall camp.
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