BYU Athletics Blog | August 2008 | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

BYU Athletics Blog | August 2008

From the Pressbox: Thursday

Aug 07, 2008 - Posted by Jeff Reynolds at 10:01 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink


One of the greatest traditions this team has is to honor an individual each Thursday as the team's "Thursday's Hero." Today's heros were Zach and Brady Jensen. Zach is 10 years old and Brady is 5. Both boys battle Muscular Dystrophy. Offensive lineman Jason Speredon, who attends church with the Jensen family, introduced Zach and Brady to the team.

Coach Mendenhall also presented the two boys with a team coin and told them they were now part of the team and would be responsible for having the coin with them at all times. Coach explained to them if they were asked by one of their teammates to present the coin, they would have to do so or they would be, "in big trouble."

Coach Mendenhall explains to Zach what might happen if he is caught without his coin. He brought Michael Reed up to have him explain since he was recently caught without having his coin.

After having the rules explained, Zach and Brady were each given a team coin.

Jason Speredon presents Zach and Brady with their own team jersey.

After the presentation, each member of the team shook hands with the boys. The thing that impressed me most was that each player told each boy, "Thank you for coming today."

Thursday's are awesome because of this tradition.


We are excited to announce we have finalized an arrangement with BYU-TV to broadcast "live" our weekly football press conferences. BYU-TV's "True Blue" will produce and broadcast the program each Monday, beginning at 10 a.m. (MT). Held each week at Legends Grille, the press conference features Coach Mendenhall as well as two players. True Blue will package the press conference around highlights from the previous game, as well as a look at the Cougars’ next opponent.

We are absolutely excited about this opportunity. This will provide our program yet another presence on the national and regional scene, and will provide opportunities for the national sports networks, including ESPN, FOX, CBSC, and others to pick up and use "sound bites" from the press conference as part of their college football coverage.

The press conferences will begin on August 26; however, the first live broadcast won't be until Monday, Sept. 8 due to previously scheduled commitments. We will provide a complete schedule after all the details have been finalized.

To see if BYU-TV is available in your area, click here.


Every year there seems to be something said to a reporter that stirs up a little controversy. A few years ago, a very talented receiver came in to camp and said he expected to start. He took a little heat from his teammates, and it certainly got the attention of the media. Last year, we had some guys goofing around with a radio station and some of their comments were not received well. Managing 105 guys and what they could say to the media on any given day is something that would be very easy to lose sleep over; however, we are very, very fortunate to have 105 great guys to work with. I hardly ever worry about what will be said in the media.

Having said that, this year's early buzz involves another freshman and some comments he made to a national reporter. Like many of our local media, I have a lot of respect for this reporter's knowledge of the college sports scene and for her experience. To speak plainly and honestly, this is in no way her fault.

The fact of the matter is, this is a "program failure" as Coach Mendenhall explained. While this young man and I had previously spoken about the media and what his role might be, he simply had not been properly educated on how to handle these situations, and what the consequences might be as a result. The matter has been addressed with the team, and with the newcomers. I do not believe the player intended to offend anyone or to appear as cocky and selfish. Nevertheless, I believe he has learned an important lesson. As Coach Mendenhall said, "This program is about we, not me."

I also appreciate the local media guys for giving our young player some space. He was available for interviews following practice, but the media showed professionalism and respect for the young man by not attempting to throw salt in the wound. I know they are sometimes under pressure from editors to dig, but in this case, the way they handled the situation is greatly appreciated.

I also have to mention how outstanding our players are. Many understand the situation, and did not give it a second thought. For those who may have been at practice today, they noticed that his teammates were out there, supporting him, helping him learn plays, and encouraging him. This speaks volumes about the kind of young men we have in our program.

So, from a program standpoint ... it's over. It's been addressed, framed appropriately to the team, and now it's time to move on.


What used to be an all-day event, well a solid three to four hours anyway, has turned into a well-oiled, highly efficient event that lasts just under one hour.

For some reason, standing in front of cameras is not a favorite activity for these guys.

In year's past, the team always gathered on the very first day of fall camp, giving media an opportunity to come to the stadium, interview everyone, take tons of photos, and then we would all leave with sunburned faces and all the freshmen would have second-degree sunburns on their freshly shaved heads.

Since moving the "Photo Day" to near the end of the first week, much of the media attention has died down and it has become more of a series of photo sessions for a number of our publicity needs.

The players first sit for the team shot, then we take photos of all the returned missionaries and the Eagle Scouts. Then the different position units duke it out to go next. The quarterbacks won this year and had their group shot taken first while all the other units played rock, paper, scissors for the second spot. (Just kidding about the rock, paper, scissors thing.)

Once in the Indoor Practice Facility, the newcomers sit for their head shot in their coat and tie while everyone else goes through a series of individual shots for use by the national networks and other outlets. One of the photos we take during photo day is the TV Head Shot. This is a shot of every player on the team that we put on a CD and send to every national and regional sports network. Those who watch the games on television are familiar with these shots. These photos are used to introduce the starting lineups at the beginning of the games.

Don't forget about tomorrow's player chat. David Nixon is scheduled to join the chat at 12:45 p.m. (MT).

Here are some photos from today's practice.

From the Pressbox: Wednesday

Aug 06, 2008 - Posted by Jeff Reynolds at 1:21 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

This morning it was the receivers' turn to conduct the team meeting. As previously mentioned, each unit is responsible for preparing an inspirational message that should include a spiritual component. This morning, the receivers invited Heather Goedel to sing for the team. Heather, originally from Provo, has performed with Gladys Knight on several albums, including the popular "One Voice."

This morning Heather performed, "Oh Lord, My Redeemer." She is an extremely talented performer, and we are grateful for her willingness to share her talents.

Click to watch the video.

To learn more about Heather, click here.

Bryce Mahuika spoke to the team about the importance of practicing well. He quoted Walter Payton, "It's not necessarily the amount of time you spend at practice that counts, it's what you put in to it."

Austin Collie also spoke to the team about how important it is to practice well. He told the team that the next three weeks are the most important weeks that they will have as a team. He said it would determine what kind of team they would become.

To illustrate his point about how important practice is, Collie showed the famous video of former 76'ers star Allen Iverson talking about practice.

To watch the hilarious video, click here.

Allen Iverson has a different opinion of the importance of practice it would appear.

Just finished our first live chat. Today's chat was with Dennis Pitta. Dallas Reynolds will join us tomorrow at 12:45 p.m. (MT). Get your question in.

Dennis Pitta participates in's first-ever live chat.

Tons of Practice Photos

Nate "Big Rig" Hartung -- one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.

Coach Mendenhall keeps an eye on special teams.

All-America candidate Austin Collie keeping sharp while nursing a leg injury.

Tight end Andrew George -- Yes, he caught it.

Receiver Matt Marshall

Linebackers David Nixon and Vic So'oto running on to the practice field.

All-America candidate Dallas Reynolds working out at center.

Jameson Frazier gets his fingers taped by a team trainer.

Justin Blackmore

Matt Bauman

Justin Blackmore gives Terence Brown a face lift.

Coach Mendenhall

Ray Feinga

Fui Vakapuna

Fui Vakapuna during team drills

Andrew George

#97 Tevita Hola

All-America candidate Jan Jorgensen

Wayne Latu

Matt Reynolds and Ray Feinga

Matt Reynolds

B.J. Peterson

Iona Pritchard

Matt Putnam

Garrett Reden

Brock Richardson

More to come ...

From the Pressbox: More Tuesday

Aug 05, 2008 - Posted by Jeff Reynolds at 8:20 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

We seem to have worked out some of the bugs with the blog site, so hopefully we will be up and running. I added a few more photos from yesterday's practice, as well as a few from this morning's practice. It sure made it nice practicing in the 80-degree weather, as opposed to the 100-degree day yesterday.

Player Chat

A few things to blog about this evening ... first, if you haven't already heard, we will be conducting our first player chat tomorrow (Wednesday) at about 12:45 p.m. (MT). We had scheduled it for 12:30; however, Dennis will be doing a phone interview with USA Today at 12:30. If we're a little late getting started, please be patient. You can go on now, I believe, and ask your questions. You don't have to wait for the chat to start.

Unfortunately, we won't be able to answer all the questions. As of right now, there are some pretty good question. Unfortunately, Mark, I don't think Dennis will be able to answer your question about injuries, but I will attempt to later in this evening's blog. We're looking forward to the chat and think it will be a lot of fun.

Injury Report

When it comes to giving out injury reports, there are a couple considerations we must always make. First, we have to make sure the student-athlete is aware of the situation and we try to make sure the player has had a chance to talk to his family; however, that's not always possible. But, our hope is that the family finds out about injuries from the student-athlete, the medical staff or the coaching staff, as opposed to the newspaper, television, or this blog. In addition there are Federal Laws that govern what we can and can't say.

Having said that, Coach Mendenhall, our trainer Kevin Morris and myself agree that it is always best to be open, honest, and up front about the information we provide media outlets. I can tell you if Coach Mendenhall says an injury will take two to four weeks to recover from, it will usually take two to four weeks to recover from. Good or bad news, he'll not shy away from it. As he says, "It is what it is."

My feeling is no matter how you spin it, the results will eventually be known, so why not be up front with the information we are authorized to release.

So, having said all that ... here's today's injury update:

Tom Sorensen has a shoulder injury. At this point, we simply don't know if it will or will not require surgery. Nevertheless, we have been told it is looking like it will take four to six weeks to recover.

As you are aware, Austin Collie has a stress fracture in his leg. He is frustrated that he can not be out practicing, but he is upbeat and confident that he will be ready for the first game. He'll be continually monitored to evaluate his progress. As I learn more, I will keep his status updated.

Fui Vakapuna has tight hamstring. He is officially listed as day-to-day, which means he's getting reps, but they are being cautious to make sure his hamstring doesn't get worse. He is involved in practice and is working hard to rehab that hammy.

Matt Bauman, who is no longer riding a scooter, is getting better and better. He had his walking boot off at practice yesterday and today. He'll continue to be evaluated and put back in to action when he's good to go. It's expected he should be ready for the first game as well.

Offensive Line

After practice this morning, I talked to Coach Weber about the depth at offensive line. He said with Sorensen out, Dallas Reynolds will move to center. That's a really good thing because that means Matt Reynolds now moves in to the starting five. Both Dallas and Matt are monsters. Honestly, I wonder what the food bill in the Reynolds' home was like when they were all living at home.

(By the way ... I always get asked if I am related to Coach Reynolds. The answer is yes; however, it's through my wife. My wife and Coach Reynolds' mother are related, somehow.)

OK, so now that we have had our family history lesson for the day, let's get back to the offensive line. So, the current starting five are Matt Reynolds at left tackle, Ray Feinga at left guard, Dallas Reynolds at center, Travis Bright at right guard and David Oswald at right guard.

That is an impressive line. They average 326.4 pounds per man and measure in at nearly 6-foot-6.

By the way, someone told Ray Feinga that there was someone on a message board somewhere who thought the O-line looked fat. Here is his response:

Team Meeting

This morning's team meeting was a little different than normal. Starting today, the players will be conducting the team meeting. Each meeting lasts about 10-15 minutes and contains a motivational thought that is nearly often related to a spiritual component.

Coach Mendenhall explained that the players would be conducting the team meetings because he wants the players to take ownership of the program. He said, "Involvement creates ownership. Ownership creates leadership. Leadership fosters change."

By taking over certain aspects of the program, it becomes the player's team. And, in ownership, there is a sense of pride, an increase in commitment and dedication, as well as accountability.

The offensive line conducted this morning's meeting. Nick Alletto talked to the team about enduring to the end. Quoting Doctrine & Covenants 50:5, he expressed the desire to "endure actively, not passively."

Travis Bright then spoke and reminded the team how important the last individual effort is in any situation. He said, "You can't take your last effort back. If you don't give a full effort, you can't take it back. Imagine what we would be feeling like if those guys didn't give a 100 percent to block the field goal against UCLA."

From the Pressbox: Tuesday

Aug 05, 2008 - Posted by Jeff Reynolds at 8:54 am | Permalink

I had an awesome blog ready to go last night, but with the launch of our new website, we ran in to some snags, so if you find my entry out there in cyberspace somewhere, please wrangle it and send it my way.

We're working on more things for today. By the way, Graham Watson with will be on campus today, attending this morning's practice.

From the Pressbox: Saturday

Aug 04, 2008 - Posted by Jeff Reynolds at 12:46 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

While the temperature was close to 100 degrees, it was a picture-perfect day in Provo. Here are a few photos from today's practice.

There's a fun tradition that has developed over the past couple years. It turns out there are several players who are also hair artists and they like to display their "artwork" on the first day of practice. Several of the team's newcomers sported their new hairdos prior to Saturday's practice. We captured the best of the bunch and ranked our top three.

This year's blue ribbon goes to linebacker Masi Tuitama. Tuitama is sporting the swirling horns of a ram. With a hair cut like that, we're thinking he's "Ram Tough."

Our runner up is another linebacker, Jefferson Court. If Tuitama is unable to fulfill his role or live up to his title as the blue ribbon winner, Court will ... We like it cause it reminds us of grandma's quilt.

While it looks good, it doesn't appear to the judges that there was much effort in slicing Travis Uale's fro in half. We're giving him credit for making a straight line.

For some reason, people reading this blog have indicated they like to know what the team is eating. I don't get it, but I'm not going to argue. So, rather then tell you what the team ate for dinner this evening, we thought we'd show you.

The crew from TGI Fridays grilled up some ribs, steak and chicken.

He may have a sore leg, but clearly his appetite is not suffering.

(8:00 a.m.)

There is a familiar saying used by one of the military branches in its recruiting efforts. "We do more by 6 a.m. ..."

The team was up before dawn and heading off to run Y Mountain. It was an amazing morning. Jaren Wilkey from the University's photo department went along. I have posted a few of his photos below.

As the team started to head down from the Y, the sun started to creep over the mountain and slip through Rock Canyon. As it did, the only thing on the entire valley floor that was illuminated was Edwards Stadium. It didn't go unnoticed.

At the end of his remarks to the team this morning, Coach Mendenhall introduced a new tradition to the team. Each player received a special coin and was asked to keep it with them at all times.

On the front of the coin is an image of a player running with the Y Flag -- the team's banner that represents the pillars of success. On the other side is the team's mission statement, "To be the flag bearers of Brigham Young University through football excellence, embracing truth, tradition, virtue, and honor as a beacon to the world."