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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.

From the Pressbox: August 12

Aug 12, 2008 - Posted by Jeff Reynolds at 8:05 am | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Countdown to Kickoff

Only 18 days remain until the Cougars' season-opener against Northern Iowa.

The Coach

It's always a thrill when Coach Edwards stops by practice. He doesn't come by that often, but when he does, it's a special feeling.

I asked coach what he had been up to lately. He said, "I've been trying to find my swing, but I haven't been able to find it."

Coach Edwards and his wife, Patti, are staying busy and based on his tan, he's been hitting the course a few times this summer.

It's also interesting to watch Coach Mendenhall when Coach Edwards comes out to practice. Coach Edwards is perfectly content to sit in the golf cart and watch. But, it doesn't matter what drill the team is doing, or what Coach Mendenhall might be occupied with at the moment, he will drop what he is doing and walk over to visit with the Coach.

I don't know what they talk about, but I have a strong feeling Coach Edwards appreciates the hard work Coach Mendenhall, the coaching staff, and the team has put in over the past few years.

Painting a Memory

Scott Baird, a civil engineer from Alpine, Utah, along with his family stopped by the football office today with a special gift for head coach Bronco Mendenhall and the football program. Scott has spent the past several months painting a picture of Edwards Stadium. Scott calls the painting, "Homecoming." Scott and his wife have five children, and are expecting their sixth child next week. The painting will be hung proudly in the football office. Prints of "Homecoming" are available in the BYU Bookstore.

Practice Photos

Linebacker Matt Bauman is back at practice and looking good. Matt saw limited action over the past week after suffering a bruised foot as a result of a scooter crash. Bauman has been participating in most drills for the past two days, but has been held out of full-contact drills. He reports that he is doing well, and trainers will allow him to increase his activity on a day-by-day basis.

Ian Dulan has quietly gone about his job for the past two seasons. Ian started five games as a true freshman in 2006 before suffering a season-ending leg injury. Last year, Dulan started 12 of the Cougars' 13 games and totaled 24 tackles. Dulan is one of the stars from last season's defensive unit that did not allow a single 100-yard rusher until the final game of the season. With the return of Russell Tialavea, the Cougars will have three returning starters on the defensive line.

After redshirting the 2006 season, Kaneakua Friel entered camp as a young tight end looking to make his mark. Through the first week, he has done just that. Friel is expected to be the third tight end and could also see playing time in a fullback role.

Slowed during the first week of fall camp by a hamstring injury, Fui Vakapuna is making his way back and working to get himself 100 percent healthy. He has been able to increase his activity on a daily basis and is well on his way to having a successful senior season.

Earlier in the week, Coach Mendenhall talked about how our team trainers were able to make progress on Fui's injury. According to team trainer Kevin Morris, once the damaged muscle releases the blood, it comes to the surface of the muscle (just under the skin.) Once the blood is released from the muscle, various treatments are used to disperse the blood and is re-absorbed by the body.

Morris said they use massage, as well as tobacco packs to help the blood dissipate. Morris said trainers at BYU have been using tobacco to help with bruises since the 1940's. (See D&C 89)

I can hear all the Honor Code and Word of Wisdom jokes now.

Freshman Bryan Kariya is one of the young, up-and-coming running backs at BYU. After having a solid spring, Kariya has been solid during Fall Camp. At 6-foot-0, 202 pounds, he's a big, physical back who is not afraid to lower his shoulders and take on a linebacker.

Senior Isaac Taylor is one of the backs being considered to replace hard-hitting Joe Semanoff. Taylor is a solid, physical back who saw action in 13 games last season.

The running backs worked with the linebackers today in one-on-one drills, working to pick up blitzes and sharpen their blocking skills.

Team Activity

After a team lift and dinner, the players and coaches gathered to hear a motivational presentation by Brad Barton, a master magician and professional public speaker from Ogden, Utah. A one-time NCAA All-American in track and field, Barton wowed the team with his mix of inspirational stories and magic.

Afterward, Walt Hanssen of Alpine, Utah and the good people at McConnell's ice cream in Santa Barbara, California teamed up to provide eight flavors of McConnell's super premium ice cream to the team. The players and coaches sampled from flavors ranging from Island Coconut to Vermont Blueberry as well as other McConnell's long-time favorites like French Vanilla and Mint Chocolate Chip. Dubbed the "best ice cream in the world" by TIME magazine, it was a well-appreciated end to another day of camp.

Michael Alisa: My First Week at BYU

Aug 11, 2008 - Posted by Lane Olson at 8:28 pm | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Coming in to camp as a true freshmen, I had no idea what to expect from my teammates and coaches. Many thoughts on my arrival (mostly negative) entered my mind. I had thoughts such as, “Would the older players accept me? How will i stack up against other players on the football field?”

What I came to find, as time went by, BYU Football goes so much further than what happens out on the field. The players and coaches in this organization stand for so much more than the game itself. And the players play for so much more than themselves.

There is a special feeling in our team meetings. I know for a fact that no other team in the country has team meetings or activities like we do.

The activities and meetings that we hold as a team are truly welcoming to the Spirit. Sharing such powerful experiences as a team strengthens and unifies us. I feel blessed and very grateful to have the opportunity of being a part of BYU Football in our ‘Quest for Perfection’.

Visit Michael's bio page here.

From the Pressbox: Monday

Aug 11, 2008 - Posted by Jeff Reynolds at 9:56 am | Updated: May 2, 2011 3:35 pm | Permalink

Countdown to Kickoff

Morning Devotional

Following a musical number, "Nearer My God to Thee" by James Connelly, quarterback Brenden Gaskins talked to the team about agency.

Gaskins quoted Elaine Cannon from her 1983 Ensign article titled, "Agency and Accountability."

"We are responsible for our own actions and accountable to God for what we choose to do with our lives."

Gaskins expounded on Cannon's article telling his teammates that it was important to understand that we are all responsible for our own actions, and in order to understand that, we have to understand that we have a choice. He said we have all been given gifts and it is our responsibility to act upon those gifts, and not to be acted upon.

Quarterback Max Hall also addressed the team, quoting LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson.

"We do not know when we will be required to leave this mortal existence. And so I ask,'What are we doing with today?' If we live only for tomorrow, we’ll eventually have a lot of empty yesterdays. Have we been guilty of declaring, 'I’ve been thinking about making some course corrections in my life. I plan to take the first step—tomorrow'? With such thinking, tomorrow is forever. Such tomorrows rarely come unless we do something about them today."

Hall challenged his teammates to make choices today as if today was their last. He said, "Whatever we do today, our church callings, work, practice, or whatever it is, do it as best as you can today so that you don't have any empty yesterdays."

Rules Changes

With just over under three weeks before our first game, I thought it would be a good idea to list some of the major rules changes for the upcoming season.

1. Player Safety

Helmet Crown and Defenseless Player Rule: It is now a foul when a player targets an opponent and initiates contact with the top of his helmet. Interestingly, this rule is designed to protect the player making the contact. As part of this rule, it is also a foul if a player targets a defenseless opponent and initiates contact above the shoulders. Each of these are personal-foul penalties and pack a 15-yard punch.

Chop Block: The revision of this rule simplifies the definition and is intended to encourage more consistent officiating. A chop block is defined as a high-low or low-high combination block by any two players against an opponent (except the ball carrier) anywhere on the field, with or without delay between contacts. The low component is at the opponent's thigh or below. Like the Helmet Crown rule, this personal foul carries a 15-yard penalty.

Horse Collar Tackle: This is a new rule that addressed the potential hazard to a ball carrier that is grabbed by the inside collar of the jersey or shoulder pad and quickly jerked down. The rule disallows players from grabbing the inside back collar of the shoulder pads or jersey, or the inside collar of the side of the shoulder pads or jersey, and immediately pulling the runner down. This does not apply to a runner who is inside the tackle box or to a quarterback who is in the pocket. A key element to this rule is the immediacy of the runner being pulled down. This is another 15-yard penalty.

Face Mask Foul: There is no longer a penalty if any player grabs an opponent's face mask without pulling, twisting, or turning it. The five-yard, incidental face mask rule has been eliminated. A 15-yard penalty will be assessed if a player pulls, twists, or turns an opponents face mask.

2. Timing

40-Second Play Clock

The 40-second play clock represents a major change in the timing of the game and will impact how the game looks and flows. The purpose of this change is to enhance the consistency of how soon the ball is ready for play once it has become dead. In the past, the play clock was set at 25 seconds and started on the referee's signal on every play. Now, the play clock will be set to 40 seconds after the ball becomes dead on every play and started immediately. In circumstances when the officials stop the game clock for administrative and other reasons, the play clock will be set to 25 seconds and started on the referee's signal in the familiar manner. The 25-second clock will be in effect for:

1. Penalty administration.

2. Charged team timeout.

3. Media timeout.

4. Injury timeout.

5. Measurement.

6. Change of possession.

7. Following a kick.

8. Score.

9. Start of each period.

10. Start of a team's series in extra period.

11. Instant replay review.

12. Other administrative stoppage.

Also, the committee has eliminated the 15-second play clock which was used following television timeouts.

Ball Out Of Bounds

When a ball is carried or fumbled out of bounds, the game clock will stop, as always. Beginning in 2008 the game clock will start on the referee's signal when the ball is ready for play, not on the snap. In the last two minutes of the half, however, the clock will start on the snap as before, preserving the ability of the offensive team to maximize strategic use of the clock.

3. Instant Replay

Reviewable Plays

The new rules expand the range of plays for which the replay official may stop the game to review. These include certain field goal attempts, plays where the ball carrier is ruled down and a loose ball is immediately recovered, and plays where the ball carrier is ruled out of bounds when he immediately carries the ball across the goal line.

Field Goal Attempts

A field goal attempt may be reviewed only if the ball is ruled below or above the crossbar, or inside or outside the uprights when it is lower than the top of the uprights. If the ball is higher than the top of the uprights, the play may not be reviewed.

Ball Carrier Ruled Down

When a ball carrier is judged down by rule and the ball is fumbled, the play may be reviewed if the recovery of the ball occurs in the immediate action following the fumble and is prior to any official signaling that the ball is dead. However, if the replay official does not have indisputable video evidence as to which player recovers the fumble, the ruling of down-by-rule stands. If the call of down-by-rule is reversed, the ball belongs to the recovering player at the spot of the recovery and no advance is allowed.

Ball Carrier Ruled Down Near The Goal Line

When a ball carrier is ruled out of bounds, the play may be reviewed if his immediate action takes him into the opponent's end zone and is prior to any official signaling that the ball is dead.

Head Coach's Challenge

A new rule expands the ability of a head coach to challenge a reviewable ruling on the field. The head coach now retains a challenge if his initial challenge is successful and thus results in a reversal by the replay official. The coach will then still have a single challenge that he may use anytime during the game if his team has not used all its timeouts. Thus a team may have a total of two challenges in the game, but only if the first results in a reversal of the on-field ruling.

4. Game Administration.

Sideline Infraction

The committee has changed the rule regarding sideline personnel being in the restricted area, which is between the sideline and the coaching box. The former sideline warning has given way to a sideline infraction which carries an immediate yardage penalty. The first two infractions have a five-yard delay of game penalty, and the third and subsequent violations now carry a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Obtaining Opponent's Signals

The rules now prohibit any attempt to record, either by video or audio means, the signals given by an opposing player, coach, or other team personnel. Violations should be brought to the attention of the proper disciplinary authority.

To watch an informational video on the rules changes, complete with game footage that demonstrates the new rules, click here..

Injury Update

I hate writing about injuries ... especially when I'm about to write that things are going well on the injury front.

Linebacker Matt Bauman returned to practice today and competed in all drills except for the team drill at the end of practice. He said he hopes to be ready to compete through practice by Wednesday.

His scooter, however, hasn't been so quick to recover. Bauman reported he lost a mirror and suffered some cosmetic damage to his scooter that has yet to be repaired. Whether his scooter will be ready to go is going to be a game-time decision.

Austin Collie hit the underwater treadmill this evening with team trainer Kevin Morris keeping a watchful eye. Morris said the underwater treadmill will allow Collie to run with about 20 percent of his body weight on his leg.

He said that for a stress fracture its good to have a little weight on the injury so that through minimal amounts of stress on the bone, it will force blood to the site.

Morris said they will increase his workouts on a day-by-day basis and see where he is after Wednesday of this week.

"He's getting better," head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "I expect him to be ready for our first game. I don't think there's any risk he won't be ready for our opener, but I' not going to practice him until I know he's ready."

Safety David Tafuna will sit out the next few days due to a concussion he sustained during Saturday's scrimmage. Morris said Tafuna will be evaluated on a daily basis and his status is day-to-day at this point.

"There's a certain amount of time that has to pass, as well as a few tests," Mendenhall said. "He'll be back when he completes that protocol to the satisfaction of our medical staff."

Evening Practice Photos

The play of the evening was a 33-yard touchdown pass from Brenden Gaskins to Landon Jaussi. After making a nice grab, Jaussi was going ...

... going ...

... going ...

... going ...


Morning Practice Photos