Last Saturday, Mike linebacker Uani Unga didn't participate in the skeli and team portion of practice. Instead, Austen Jorgensen ran with the first team. On Monday Unga was back in action and made a great play against Taysom Hill on what was a designed quarterback run. Now, it's no secret that Hill is one of the fastest players on the team. Unga read the play, and from the opposite side of the field took a very good angle to make the tag just as Hill rounded outside the offensive tackle. It was a very good read-and-react play by Unga.
Beck also looks really comfortable from his Buck linebacker position. Much like Unga, Beck flows very well side-to-side and is quick in his reads. He really seems to have taking the Buck linebacker position by the horns and made it his own. In a run play designed to go off guard, running back Paul Lasike hit the hole fairly quickly but was instantly met by Beck in the gap.
Second string MLB
Both Jorgensen and Manoa Pikula took the field with the second-team defense and looked very good. It would appear as of now that Toloa'i Ho Ching, who had a great spring camp, is running with the third-team defense and still needs a little more time to improve on his endurance. The backup players to Unga and Beck are capable and are another tough, competitive group in the fold.
Johnson is still starting at the nose guard position as of Monday. He continues to hold down the middle of the defense, and this is very good news for the Cougar defense. Behind Johnson is Tuni Kanuch. It would appear that Kanuch is suffering from a slight shoulder injury and wasn't able to go as much on Monday.
On Saturday true freshman Kalolo Utu suffered a slight ankle sprain. On Monday he was back out in action and was walking around with no visible limp. He needs more time to get acclimated to the altitude, as most new freshmen players do. At 6 feet 2 inches and 285 pounds, Utu is a big, solid defensive tackle with thick legs who plays well in the one-gap technique. He still needs some time to get the two-gap down, which isn't as easy as some might think.
Peoples was seen working with a strength and conditioning assistant on Monday. He tweaked his ankle prior to fall camp and it appears they're still working on getting him back to practicing condition. Peoples will be a force to be reckoned with once he's able to get his conditioning up and his technique honed.
At second-string left defensive tackle was true freshman Tomasi Laulile. The 6-foot-3-inch, 265-pound Laulile was a late qualifier out of high school, but he hasn’t been late to moving up the depth chart. He moves very well and caught the eye as he was causing problems up front in the trenches.
Sophomore field cornerback Trevor Bateman was running with the third-team defense. Opposite of Bateman at the boundary corner position was 6-foot, 190-pound walk-on Jake Ziolkowski.
Leavitt appears to do really well in short route and intermediate route coverage. He did struggle on Monday defending against the deeper routes. Second-string quarterback Ammon Olsen hit Ross Apo for a touchdown of about 40 yards while Leavitt was covering him. Although Leavitt was close in coverage, he was beat a few times by the more seasoned Apo downfield.
Can I get a nickel?
BYU ran quite a bit of nickel defense on Monday. Skye PoVey was seen back out with the first-team defense at the boundary cornerback position at times and at the safety position with Craig Bills moving up to play the nickel. When Bills was moved over to nickel, PoVey played free safety alongside Daniel Sorensen at the strong safety position.
During the limited portion of skeli that was allowed to be seen, Ammon Olsen may have had the best performance overall. He threw the ball really well with touch, while Hill often overthrew the ball downfield. For those fans who feel that Hill doesn't have the arm strength to throw the ball deep, they have nothing to worry about. Hill can make all the throws, but the issue Monday was with his accuracy in the deep ball. Hill has a very strong arm and tends to rocket the ball a little long when throwing downfield.
The first-team offensive line hasn't changed much from day one, although Brad Wilcox was seen playing most – if not all – the reps with the first team at left tackle in place of Ryker Mathews.
On Monday the first-string line was as follows: left tackle Brad Wilcox, left guard Solomone Kafu, center Terrance Alletto, Right guard Brock Stringham, and right tackle Michael Yeck.
The second-string line was as follows: left tackle Cole Jones, left guard Brayden Kearsley, center Manaaki Vaitai, right guard Kyle Johnson, and right tackle De’Ondre Wesley.
Three kickers got their chance at field goals on Monday, each getting three tries from around 20 yards. Justin Sorensen, Vance Bingham and Bryan Sampson each missed one, collectively making six out of nine attempts. From the 25-yard line, the three went collectively made three of four kicks.
New recruit alert
BYU is looking heavily at 2015 outside linebacker T.J. Kautai from Texas. Kautai comes in at 6 feet 1 inch and 205 pounds and will be a junior this year at Trinity High School. Kautai, who is also being recruited by Utah and Utah State, is the younger brother of current BYU strong side linebacker Teu Kautai.