Monday, August 20, 2012

BYU Fall Camp: Week 3 Recap

The highlight of week 3 was the Brigham Young Cougars’ second scrimmage last Thursday. Two more days of fine tuning followed the scrimmage, and camp was officially over. With just 10 days remaining until the season opener against Washington State, BYU will start preparing for that game. 

The major storylines, in addition to the scrimmage, during week three were the offensive line, wide receivers, and injuries.

Offensive Line
The offensive line gained three players, and lost two on Tuesday. Back from injury were Ryker Mathews, Braden Brown, and Brock Stringham who were held out most of week two for minor injuries. Their return brought the first unit offensive line back to full strength, much to the relief of quarterback Riley Nelson.

The same day these three returned, BYU received word that two offensive linemen would not suit up for 2012. Senior Walter Kahaiali’i would hang up his cleats due to a knee injury. He will remain with the team as a student assistant. Sophomore Fono Vakalahi chose to transfer.   

The overall health of the offensive line has been very good during camp. That is probably largely due to head coach Bronco Mendenhall’s decision to not wear full pads and hit. Offensive line, however, seems to be one of the positions that really needs to practice with full contact to properly evaluate their progress and preparation, especially for run blocking.

Wide Receivers
The top three wide receivers for this team were well established before camp opened. Behind them was a long list of exciting hopefuls. Several of the hopefuls have had their moments, but none are satisfying receivers coach Ben Cahoon enough to guarantee playing time. Cahoon sounds like he is holding all receivers to a high standard for pass catching, route running, and everything else the receivers have to do. It was refreshing to hear him say that he was not satisfied and would not reward unsatisfactory play with playing time in games.

Two hopeful receivers have moved their names close to the top of the list: Dylan Collie and Alex Kuresa. Collie has been all that was expected as the younger brother of BYU’s all-time leading receiver. Kuresa is capitalizing on the opportunities given to him through his athleticism.

Scrimmage No. 2
The second team scrimmage was held Thursday, August 16, exactly one week following the first and two weeks before the first game. The scrimmage much more resembled a real game than the first scrimmage. There were two distinct teams, and the coaches were wearing headsets.

Most of the defensive starters did not play, but most of the offensive starters did. That led to more offensive firepower in this scrimmage. The two offenses score five touchdowns. Two were touchdown passes (Riley Nelson to Cody Hoffman, James Lark to Kurt Henderson). David Foote rushed for two touchdowns, and Adam Hine produced the other.

Hine had a huge day with 13 carries for 117 yards and one touchdown. He busted a 50-yard run that led to another touchdown. Hine also had one fumble; the only turnover during the scrimmage.

Nelson led three touchdown drives, and finished with a stat line of 10-16, 169 yards, 1 TD. Lark led the other two TD drives. His stats were 6-8, 60 yards, 1 TD. Taysom Hill and Jason Munns also got some reps. Both saw their only drives end in a sack, but Munns had more success moving the ball.

Injury Report
On the good side, linebackers Kyle Van Noy and wide receiver Ross Apo were cleared by team doctors to play in every aspect. The news wasn’t so good for two other Cougars.

Ian Dulan was expected to be a key cog on the defensive line this year. He missed the whole week with back pain. He hasn’t been ruled out for the opener, but this is less than desirable news.

Freshman running back Jamaal Williams had turned everybody’s head the first two weeks. Two days into week three he turned his ankle. That caused him to miss the scrimmage, but it appears the ankle injury isn’t severe, and he should be back to 100 percent well before the season opener.

Place kicker Justin Sorensen was yet to return. Not a good sign.

Other comments
The slow progress of Sorensen is a major concern. It is definitely time to move on, for this season. BYU needs to work Riley Stephenson and Taysom Hill and get them ready to place kick in the games. Maybe mid-week, Sorensen will be back and kick the ball better than ever. Until then, coaches should be taking the “worst case scenario” approach. The last thing I want to see is another missed field goal cost the Cougars a win in Boise.

Will the defense disappoint us this year? Maybe it is the no contact practice structure, but I have been under whelmed by the defense during fall camp. I expected much more big plays by the defense and for the offense to have a much harder time moving the ball. Instead, it has been a sack here and an interception there, while the offense has one big play after another.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at bluecougarfootball@gmail.com

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