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From the Pressbox: August 22

Aug 22, 2008 - Posted by Jeff Reynolds at 10:22 am | Updated: January 27, 2015 4:52 pm | Permalink

Countdown to Kickoff

Thursday's Hero

Since the team did not practice on Thursday, today provided the opportunity to welcome Brandon Sulser as this week's Thursday's Hero.

Brandon was paralyzed in a freak accident at Lake Powell 10 years ago. Brandon had the opportunity to talk to the team and to remind them how quickly life can change. He told them to be grateful for their bodies, but not to rely on their physical bodies. He told the team it was their spiritual bodies that really mattered and how he looked forward to one day having a perfect body.

Brandon, who has not let his physical disability slow him down, often speaks to groups about PUSH -- an acronym he has developed to help others understand the importance of personal responsibility.

The letter P stands for "PERSEVERANCE," U stands for "It's UP to you," S stands for "START now to separate yourself from everyone else," and H stands for "HELPING others."

Kellen Fowler introduced Brandon to the team following Friday's practice.

Brandon also had the opportunity to sign the team flag as his commitment to always uphold the mission of the BYU football program in all aspects of his life.

As is customary, Thursday's Hero got to lead the team in a break.

Travis Bright, along with every member of the team had the opportunity to shake hands with today's hero.

As he always does, Coach Mendenhall took a few minutes to visit with today's hero.

Coach Mendenhall and today's hero, Brandon Sulser.

Max Hall and Brandon visit after practice.

Wayne and Mary Latu

On Wednesday, Aug. 20, Mary Latu, the wife of running back Wayne Latu, gave birth to the couple's second child. The child was born over a month and a half early and has had some serious complications. Our thoughts and prayers are with Wayne, Mary, little Malia, and their newborn child. Mary Latu is the sister of freshman linebacker Michael Alisa.

New Signage

For as long as I can remember, the backside of the south scoreboard has stuck out like a sore thumb. It's been a plain, white wall up until yesterday when crews finished applying a new decal to the back. Now, when you see the back of the scoreboard from just about anywhere on campus, there's actually something to look at.

Sorry, got a little artsy with the camera. But, hey. Props to the lanscaping crew for having our campus look like a million bucks. I've been all over the country, visiting campus after campus, and its really difficult to find a more beautifully landscaped campus.

From the Pressbox: August 21

Aug 21, 2008 - Posted by Jeff Reynolds at 3:54 pm | Permalink

Countdown to Kickoff

We are down to single digits until kickoff.

From the Pressbox: August 20

Aug 20, 2008 - Posted by Jeff Reynolds at 8:12 am | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Countdown to Kickoff

J.J. DiLuigi wants you to know that there are only 10 more days until the Cougars' season-opener against Northern Iowa. He, along with the rest of the team, wants you to know how important it is to wear blue to all 13 games this year. Even if you're parked in front of your television set in Pendleton, Oregon, or in Sagniaw, Michigan, or Hurricane, Utah, or Blackfoot, Idaho, or Pawnee, Nebraska, or wherever it is you are on game day ... wear blue!

Practice Photos

Photo by Scott Fitzgerald

Photo by Scott Fitzgerald

Photo by Scott Fitzgerald

Touchdown Run

During Wednesday's practice, redshirt freshman quarterback Stephen Covey led the offense on a scoring drive. Besides an interception from Travis Uale that he returned for a touchdown, Covey's was the only touchdown produced by the offense during the hour-long scrimmage.

I can hear Greg Wrubell now, "He's to the 10 ...

... the five ...

... he dives for the endzone ...


Sorry. I got a little carried away. I know, I know. It's only practice.

Collie Update

Austin Collie continues to re-hab after battling a stress fracture in his leg. He could return to action as early as Friday. So, rather than tell you how he did during his workout with trainers and Max Hall today, why don't you take a look for yourself.

After a good workout ... it's time to talk about it.

More Practice Photos

Here are a few more practice photos.

From The Pressbox: August 19

Aug 19, 2008 - Posted by Jeff Reynolds at 12:09 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Countdown to Kickoff

Eleven more days.

Collie on the Run

All-America candidate Austin Collie was on the run this morning. Having sat on the sidelines for the first two weeks of camp with a stress fracture in his leg, Collie was put through a series of runs this morning to evaluate the status of his injury.

After the tests Collie reported, "I feel good."

Special Birthday Gift

On Thursday the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Thomas S. Monson, will celebrate his birthday. One of the gifts he requested was something special from the BYU football team. So, to honor the Prophet's birthday, the team signed a team flag that will be presented to the President Monson later this week. Hope we didn't spoil the surprise.

Speaking of Birthdays

Linebacker Vic So'oto is celebrating his 21st birthday today. Happy Birthday, Vic.

Another Pho'oto of So'oto

We managed to snap a pretty good pho'oto of Vic So'oto this morning during special teams work. Depending on who you ask, So'oto may have actually got a hand on the ball.

Practice Photos

Ariel View

Each day members of the video crew ride the platform lifts to their 40-foot perch over the practice fields. If you've never been to the top of one of these platforms, trust me when I say it is the most unstable feeling ever. Even on a perfectly still day, those things rock back and forth and feel like they are going to tip over at any moment. I had the opportunity to go up in a lift about eight or nine years ago. I've never done it since. So, my hat's off to these guys.

From the Pressbox: August 18

Aug 18, 2008 - Posted by Jeff Reynolds at 9:38 am | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Countdown to Kickoff

There are only 12 more days until the Cougars' season-opener against Northern Iowa. I can already smell the kettle corn.

Team Captains

Coach Mendenhall announced during this afternoon's team meeting the names of the 2008 team captains. The captains were selected by the team.

Captains for the 2008 season will be David Nixon and Jan Jorgensen from the defense and Max Hall and Travis Bright from the offense.

Coach said he doesn't think the team could have picked four better guys.

Position Change

Freshman Daniel Sorensen was moved from safety to linebacker on Monday. Sorensen stood out during Saturday's scrimmage and Coach Mendenhall said he likes the way the young freshman plays defense.

"Daniel Sorensen was one of the highlights of the scrimmage on Saturday, not just on special teams, but also the way he’s playing defense. When you look at the mold of who we’re looking for at that spot, we think his future will be there. He’s not afraid and he’s anxious to contribute. He’s already shown that he’ll be a special teams player at least, so this gives us a chance to train him for now and the future.”

Kelly Bills Update

Due to a number of concussions during his career, Coach Mendenhall said he had a tough decision to make regarding Kelly's future.

“This was his fourth concussion in his career. I’m responsible for him, and regardless of medical opinion, it will be hard for me to allow him to perform again. The risk is too great. I shared that sentiment with him."

Mendenhall met with Kelly today and determined that while his football playing career is over, he had an interest in being involved in the football program.

"We're going to try and find a way for him to be involved. He wants to be involved and pursue a career in coaching. We've talked with our compliance people and I think we'll be able to work something out."

Both Kelly an his brother KC have had careers cut short due to injury -- a situation Coach Mendenhall hasn't taken lightly.

"It's because they are such hard workers, such excellent young men that has made this so difficult. I can say that I am honored to have been their coach."

Bernard Afutiti

After coming in to fall camp a few days later than the rest of the team, Bernard Afutiti has already made an impact.

“I’ve been impressed, I hadn’t expected that with his late arrival to camp and being a junior college player," Mendenhall said. "Those two things in combination don’t usually lend themselves to being ready, but his athleticism, his knowledge, his ability to learn and his demonstrated ability to play has been impressive. He’ll play this year.”

The Plan

Today marked the final day of two-a-days. The team will practice again on Tuesday, and is scheduled to hold a scrimmage on Wednesday. The team will take the day off on Thursday while the coaches sequester themselves to prepare the game plan for Northern Iowa. While the team won't practice, they will lift during the day, according to Mendenhall.

Matt Ah You

Linebacker Matt Ah You missed this morning's practice due to a shoulder stinger he suffered last week. He had an MRI today that was negative. Ah You was at practice this afternoon and worked out with the team.

Concussion Update

David Tafuna returned to full action today after suffering a concussion last week. G Pittman has not been cleared and had a heavy workout in the weight room during practice. He will be evaluated on a daily basis. Receiver Spencer Hafoka is also recovering from a concussion. He is being evaluated and should be cleared in the next day or two.

The rash of concussions has been of concern to Coach Mendenhall.

"We're looking for what the source might be," he said. "My guess right now is that the helmets are not being inflated properly. Sometimes the players get a little lackadaisical; they like their helmets to fit looser. I think that may be it, but I'm not positive, and we will continue to look in to the situation."

Practice Photos

Brandon Bradley came up with a fantastic interception to end the morning practice session.

Landon Jaussi hauls in a touchdown reception despite Brandon Bradley's best effort. (Photo by Scott Fitzgerald)

Matt Reynolds

David Oswald

Dennis Pitta

Kellen Fowler: Keeping the Dream Alive

Aug 17, 2008 - Posted by Jeff Reynolds at 2:56 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Saturday, Aug. 18 - This morning we had a fun practice. We had a scrimmage of around 70 plays in LaVell Edwards Stadium. It is always such an honor to play in a stadium named after a Hall-of-Fame coach where so many fantastic players have played, and big Cougar victories have taken place. I am very excited to have the chance to add to the BYU Football Tradition this year.

That Tradition is part of what brought me back to BYU to play out my final season of eligibility. I had the chance to leave my senior year on the table, accept the admission and scholarships offered by several of the top law schools in the country, and move on with my life towards great career prospects.

But there’s something about Cougar Football that wouldn’t let me leave. Maybe it’s the memories that I have of sitting in the stands watching Ty Detmer evade the rush and throw a touchdown pass in the win against #1 ranked Miami, or K.O. Kealaluhi sliding on his back in the end zone after catching a touchdown against Texas A&M.

I grew up as a Cougar and dreamed my whole life of wearing the Blue and White in that stadium on Saturday afternoons. I wasn’t ready to let that dream die; not while the opportunity to live it was right in front of me. Plus, I figured this was one situation where I may not have to completely sacrifice one opportunity to take another.

So I got in contact with the law schools I was considering to see if I might be able to defer my enrollment until the fall of 2009 giving me the chance to play my senior season in Provo. While a few of the schools took a hard-line approach and told me I would need to re-apply if I wouldn’t accept their offer for this year, most were more than willing to oblige.

After talking with several respected law-school graduates and picking their brains for what I should consider most closely in making my decision, I narrowed my choices down and made a trip back east between spring football and my BYU graduation ceremony to visit the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Virginia.

Charlottesville showed why it is consistently rated as one of the nicest college towns in America. The arrangements were all made, and my wife and I are headed out to UVA next fall.

Because I have to be enrolled at BYU in order to play, I saved a single, one credit-hour class for this last semester. In my spare time I will also be putting my business degree to good use working with a financial planning firm in Salt Lake City.

But football is the main reason I’m still in Provo, and it will be my focus. So far, this fall camp has been my favorite. When practice is hard and my body gets tired and sore, I remember that I chose to be here; this is my dream and my chance to live it.

Visit Kellen's bio page here.

From the Pressbox: August 16

Aug 16, 2008 - Posted by Jeff Reynolds at 1:48 pm | Permalink

Countdown to Kickoff

Scrimmage Photos

Injury Report

Junior linebacker Dan VanSweden suffered a broken bone in his leg during Saturday's scrimmage. He is scheduled to have surgery early in the week and will miss 10-12 weeks.

Team Activity

After the morning scrimmage, and team meetings the rest of the day, the Cougars spent the evening at Seven Peaks water park in Provo.

From the Pressbox: August 15

Aug 15, 2008 - Posted by Jeff Reynolds at 12:49 am | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Countdown to Kickoff

Just 15 days until the Cougars' season-opener against Northern Iowa.

Pronunciation Guide

For the past couple years, media, coaches, players, announcers and everyone in between have been mispronouncing Harvey Unga's last name. So, for the record, let's try to get this right. (We're working on a video for the website that will also help with your ability to correctly pronounce his name.)

I promised Harvey's dad, Jackson, we would do everything in our power to make sure everyone gets his son's name right. Harvey's mom, Theresa, told me she's glad they gave Harvey an easy first name.

"At least people get his first name right," she said.

So, here we go ... ready? It's OOng-UH. No. No. Try again.

Start with the double-o sound "ew" then add a little bit of an "n" sound and then make the "g" sound very silent, but coming from the back of your tongue. Then emphasize the "uh" sound at the end.

OOng-UH. Close. Try it one more time. OOng-UH.

Keep practicing, please. I promised Harvey's dad you would.

Future Schedule

It has been reported by a number of sources that BYU has agreed to play Tulane next year in New Orleans. Officially, Tom Holmoe has been in communication with a few different teams regarding our final non-conference game for next season, including Tulane. It is our hope to have our 2009 non-conference schedule finalized within the next week or so. The Cougars are looking to fill their season-opener (September 5) next season.

BYU is scheduled to play at Arizona State and at home against Florida State and Utah State.

Mendenhall Movie Critique

Rather than practicing Thursday morning, Coach Mendenhall took the team to see the summer blockbuster, "Dark Knight." So, what did coach think about the movie?

"It had way too much violence for me, and it was about an hour too long," he said. "I would give it maybe two-and-a-half stars."

Just Kickin' It

Following this morning's practice, Coach Mendenhall outlined his plans for the kicking game. Mendenhall said Mitch Payne has shown more consistency and accuracy, especially under pressure, throughout fall camp. However, he added he will not make any final decision on the kicking game until the week of the Northern Iowa game.

“We’re trying to create as many pressure situations as possible,” Mendenhall said. “Mitch is more confident and more consistent day-in and day-out. I think the competition has helped that. It may very well be Mitch from short to mid field goal range, and Justin as a kickoff and long field goal guy, based on how the numbers play out. We have options within there.”

Scrimmage Plans

Coach Mendenhall said this morning that there will be a heavy emphasis made during Saturday's scrimmage to sort out the depth chart, especially at the back-up quarterback position and some of the starting positions on defense.

He said Max Hall's reps will be limited to the number of plays Coach Doman and Coach Anae believe he needs. After that, Brenden Gaskins and Kurt McEuen will share equal reps to help sort out the back-up role.

As the competition between G Pittman and Brandon Howard gets tighter, Mendenhall said field corner will be another position they take a closer look at.

“Saturday will be a great chance to break some of the ties among the players,” said Mendenhall. “It’s not just about the quarterbacks, but several of the other positions. Any of the positions that are relatively close right now, the scrimmage will hopefully make that lean one way or another.”

Morning Practice Photos

Jameson Frazier

O'Neill Chambers

J. J. DiLuigi

Ray Feinga

Dallas Reynolds blocking for Fui Vakapuna

Max Hall

Wayne Latu

Mitch Payne

From the Pressbox: August 14

Aug 14, 2008 - Posted by Jeff Reynolds at 11:17 am | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Countdown to Kickoff

Only 16 more days until the Cougars kickoff the season against Northern Iowa. Now, pay attention. This is really, really important. Wear blue!!! Let's back up for a second. How about we try using the commitment pattern. Since you know the school colors are blue, and since you know it's the right thing to do, will you wear blue to the BYU football game on August 30? Thank you.

A Dark Knight in Provo

Actually, it was a bright, sunny morning in Provo. During this morning's team meeting, Coach Mendenhall informed the team that he had decided to give them the morning off. He said the team has done everything he has asked of them and it was a way for the team to take some time off and sharpen up as they head into the last half of fall camp.

I asked Michael Reed what he thought about going to the movies instead of practicing. He said, "I was disappointed. I wanted to practice." The smile on his face was a clear indication that he was not being exactly honest.

Our football operations director, Duane Busby, lets the bus driver know the buses are loaded and they're good to go.

Yes. That appears to be a blanket Michael Alisa is taking to the theater.

Cougar Kickoff

This evening the team, along with members of the cross country team, the women's volleyball team and the women's soccer team participated in the annual Cougar Kickoff.

I'm not sure how many people were there tonight, but if I had to guess, I would say somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 people. No matter how many were actually in attendance, they all enjoyed everything from free ice cream to all sorts of activities.

Here are several photos from the event.

Players spent the majority of the evening signing autographs.

Born to be a Cougar fan -- check out those blue eyes!

Brandon Bradley

More Brandon Bradley

Coach Mendenhall addressed the crowd, and even fielded a few questions. He talked about everything from the new red-shirt policy to his thoughts on Northern Iowa.

Bryce Mahuika

Austin Collie

The cross country teams were on hand to help kids run a mini, cross-country course.

The crowd gathered to hear Coach Mendenhall.

Cosmo takes a little getting used to for some young fans.

Harvey Unga, Jan Jorgensen, Max Hall and David Nixon addressed the crowd.

Andrew George

Harvey Unga

Michael Reed

Former Cougar Gabe Reid working the dunk tank.

Fans take advantage of the equipment sale that was held prior to the Cougar Kickoff.

A band played during the Cougar Kickoff.

From the Pressbox: August 13

Aug 13, 2008 - Posted by Jeff Reynolds at 12:27 am | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Countdown to Kickoff

Seventeen Days until the Cougars' season-opener against Northern Iowa at Edwards Stadium.

Do you have your blue?

Upcoming Schedules

It was announced earlier today that BYU will play host to Nevada during the 2010 season, completing a three-year contract with the Wolfpack. While all focus is on the 2008 season, the 2010 season doesn't appear to be an easy walk in the park. In addition to conference games on the road at TCU, Air Force, Colorado State and Utah, the Cougars will travel to Florida State and Utah State. BYU will host Washington, Nevada, Wyoming, UNLV, San Diego State and New Mexico.

The 2009 schedule is taking shape with a non-conference game at Arizona State and home games against Florida State and Utah State. BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe is working to fill the other non-conference game. An arrangement is close, but unfortunately we can't release any details at this time due to on-going negotiations. We'll release that information as soon as it is appropriate to do so.

Oh, My Nose!

Unlike Marsha Brady, our own Carey Hoki stood in there and took the pain like a gritty linebacker. During this morning's practice, Hoki took a pass in the face that resulted in a broken nose.

Quarterback Brenden Gaskins was scrambling out of the pocket and threw the ball out of bounds. Standing behind a few spectators, keeping stats, Hoki did not see the ball coming and looked up just as someone yelled, "Heads up!"

Gaskins and several other members or the team were unaware what had happened until they were watching film after this morning's practice.

Hoki was taken to the Urgent Care facility at the Student Health center where an x-ray revealed a slight fracture. Besides a lot of bleeding and a little soreness, Hoki says she is fine and reports that it doesn't even hurt. I say she's tougher than anyone I know.

Without any protective gear, even though several well-meaning individuals offered her helmets, hockey masks, nose guards, etc., she returned to practice this evening and delivered another full report of the day's action. It's got to be the gutsiest performance I have seen since a certain fourth-and-eighteen situation that played out at Edwards Stadium a few months ago.

After practice, Gaskins came over to Hoki and apologized. He said he saw what happened while watching game film and had no idea she had been hurt at the time. He said he felt bad when he found out what happened, but ... well, we'll take his word for it.

Practice Photos

Gearing up for his junior season, linebacker Matt Ah You has had a solid fall camp. Ah You has filled in with the first team while Matt Bauman has been out with an injured foot. With Bauman returning to full action today, both will help anchor the middle backer position.

Sophomore Luke Ashworth came up with the play of the day (during the morning practice at least) by hauling in a 20-yard pass from Max Hall and working the sidelines to get the touchdown. The defense argued that it was not a catch, but the proof is in the picture. After further review ... sorry fellas. Touchdown!!!

Coach talked to the team about clock management following this morning's practice.

The defensive coaches keep a watchful eye during the two-minute drill this evening. Barry Lamb (left), Paul Tidwell (middle) and Steve Kaufusi (right) have a combined 30 years of coaching experience at BYU, including Lamb who is entering his 15th season with the Cougars.

If Ashworth had the best play of the morning, Spencer Hafoka has to be credited with the best play of the evening. Hafoka climbed the ladder to pull down this pass for a first down during the two-minute drill. Unfortunately, Hafoka suffered a slight concussion after coming down hard. Team trainer Kevin Morris said Hafoka will be day-to-day and doesn't expect the gutsy, sure-handed receiver to miss much action at all.

During the morning practice, freshman Steven Thomas was credited with an interception and a nice return. The ball bounced off the receiver, was tipped by a defender and Thomas came up with it -- just like it was planned.

Michael Reed is another one of those offensive threats who doesn't get a lot of attention. He had an outstanding fall camp and will be a key target for Max Hall this season.

Meet the Offensive Line

Starting center, Dallas Reynolds (6-5, 320). By the way, Dallas has started 38 straight games throughout his career. Only four other players in the entire country have started more consecutive games. Cody Lubojasky, a linebacker from Houston; Kraig Urbik, and offensive lineman from Purdue; Andrew Harline, an offensive lineman from Central Michigan; and Andrew Gardner, and offensive lineman from Georgia Tech have each started 39 straight games. Do you find it interesting how many offensive linemen are listed?

Starting left guard, Ray Feinga (6-5, 348).

Starting left tackle, Matt Reynolds (6-6, 321).

Starting right guard, Travis Bright (6-5, 313).

Starting right tackle, David Oswald (6-8, 330).

Coleby Clawson

Linebacker Coleby Clawson is a pretty amazing guy. He's one of the married guys on the team, he has a daughter (Chesni), he's been on a mission, he's an NJCAA Academic All-American from Snow College, he was the WSFL Defensive Player of the Year last season at Snow, he helped lead the Badgers to the NJCAA National Championship game last season, and he is a Type 1 Diabetic.

Clawson monitors his blood sugar (glucose) levels throughout practice and when his glucose levels get too high, he gives himself an injection of insulin. If he gets "low", he has a bottle of orange juice he keeps close by.

We'll have more on Clawson later.