With no established "star" in the receiving corps, BYU may not have someone who catches over 50 passes this fall. However, the most likely candidate would be Toby Christensen, followed by Jason Kukahiko and tight end Daniel Coats.
Where will Bristol Olomua fit into the offense this year?
Bristol Olomua was switched to tight end when he reported to fall camp at around 250 pounds. This may be the best move for him with his 6-5 height. His situation is similar to that of Daniel Coats who was also converted to tight end from wide receiver. We think Olomua will be an outstanding tight end, but we are not sure how long it will take him to rise to the top of the TE depth chart this fall because of his late start.
Do you expect to see more run or play-action calls this year?
We think so. Coach Crowton uses the words "powerful, young and "inexperienced" a lot in describing this year's offensive line. When you couple those buzz words with the plethora of talent at running back, it is logical to assume there will be more running of the football this season.
I heard from a second-string defensive back that off-season workouts were not that well attended. Is this true?
We didn't attend many off-season workouts, but the ones we did we saw as many as 70-80 players – plus, most importantly, most of the projected starters. The buzz with most players and coaches is that the voluntary workouts were well attended.
How is Paul Walkenhorst doing and was he in Bronco Mendenhall's "doghouse" prior to the injury?
He will almost certainly redshirt this year and prepare for his senior season completely healthy to maximize his chances for possible NFL draft selection. We don't know if he's in Mendenhall's "doghouse" since he did not participate in spring ball because he was recovering from knee surgery. Similarly, Mendenhall was not involved in voluntary summer workouts.
How is Ifo Pili doing and is he a good fit for Mendenhall's defense?
Ifo Pili is having a very good fall camp. He's in the best shape since his mission and is seeing reps with the first team. Pili's strength will always be in bottlenecking the middle and not necessarily jumping off the line quickly to make plays. We really like Pili in short yardage situations. He's practicing hard and should have his best season as a Cougar this year.
Shaun Nua has been slowed because of a leg injury, and he is a projected redshirt. Bill Wright emerged from spring practice one of the starters at DE and is still there. He's since added weight and is close to 265 pounds. CJ Ah You is starting to see more reps with the 1s and the 2s as fall practice continues. John Denney had a really good scrimmage on Monday. Converted linebacker Moa Peaua has found a home at nose guard and is doing well. We expect a DE rotation of Poppinga/Wright/Denney/Carlson-Maddux and Ah You this season.
How have the incoming freshmen on defense looked thus far?
David Nixon is the most impressive. He looks extremely quick and could see some playing time this fall. Dan Van Sweden, a converted tight end, has also looked good. Crowton has mentioned he plans on playing either Nixon or Van Sweden and redshirting the other. The decision will probably be made within the next few days. Walk-on Chris Warner has been slowed by a pulled hamstring since the start of fall practice and only recently started completing full practices. He appears set for scout team duty. Matt Ah You has been playing MLB with the 3s along with Van Sweden and Nixon and has looked good at times. Brett Denney had a really good scrimmage the first time around making a couple of sacks with the 3s, but is not part of any practice rotation. He may redshirt as well. Walk-on Mike Dudzinski will join the team after the Georgia Tech game, along with other walk-ons.
What about James Allen and O'Neil Howell?
James Allen will play a lot this season. He's part of the safety rotation and will get his chance to shine. Howell is currently running as a Kat with the 3s.
After Scott Jackson, who has emerged as the next best offensive linemen? Does BYU have anyone else who could make a run at All-Conference?
We like the playmaking abilities of Brandon Stephens. He's extremely athletic and looked as good as any offensive lineman. We also think Quinn Christensen is BYU's most underrated lineman. He's extremely consistent in pass-blocking and run-blocking straight-ahead. The sky is the limit for freshmen Ofa Mohetau, Jake Kuresa and Eddie Keele. All three will contribute heavily this year and could really take off.
Who will be the starter at tight end?
Daniel Coats and Justin Jory. Tight end coach Mike Empey has said he considers both Coats and Jory as starters.
How is Manaia Brown doing?
Manaia Brown is recovering from his shoulder surgery better than anticipated. He will see limited action against Georgia Tech and look for him to be an important part of the rotation in the USC game.
How about Nathan Kolbaba?
Nathan Kolbaba is an excellent athlete with a great motor. His game reps are limited only by the depth and talent ahead of him right now on the defensive line. This is arguably the best and deepest line BYU has had in a while and Kolbaba is having a hard time finding a spot. He's currently running as the 3s nose guard.
How is the chemistry among coaches now that Crowton has his guys in place?
The coaches are very much on the same page this season – offensively and defensively. This question made me recall something that just happened the other day at practice. Wide receiver coach Todd Bradford was doing coverage drills on punts and was shouting out instructions to defensive player Breyon Jones. He was demonstrating to Jones proper technique and angles that he should take as a gunner on the coverage teams. Crowton happened to walk by as Bradford was giving his instructions. Crowton, without a word, simply assumed the role of the defender as Bradford demonstrated how Jones should block him. It was natural and seamless. It just goes to show you how comfortable they are with each another.
Regarding the leadership qualities of Matt Berry, we've heard Beck has taken a leadership position and that the team has rallied around him, what about Berry?
Contrary to what you hear, Matt Berry was at almost every single off-season workout. He attended most of the team's social functions and is a player his teammates look up to. Berry is more low-key in demeanor than Beck, but that is not to say that he doesn't "lead." Joe Montana was one of the quietest quarterbacks ever, but you never heard anything about his leadership capabilities. Berry has his own style and he is respected by his teammates.
Will BYU's defensive line fare better this year against Georgia Tech? They got killed last year.
We don't agree. BYU's problem with running back Hollings last season were containment issues, not because they were blown off of the line of scrimmage – which did not happen. We're not concerned with the play of the DL, with or without Manaia Brown this year.
Will both quarterbacks play against Georgia Tech?
Yes. Coach Crowton has stated he will use Beck for at least one series in the first half. It will be planned and it won't be a "gut" decision.
How has Marc Hansen looked? How does he stack up against the other wide receivers?
We like what we've seen from Hansen and so does Crowton. He has great hands and decent speed. He's also very strong. Crowton plans on redshirting him, but Hansen is someone we believe will be a big part of the WR rotation for 2004 and beyond.
When will the indoor practice facility (IPF) be finished? What about the new office complex?
The latest word is the IPF will be available for practices in early November. Not all of the features will be complete, but the team will be able to practice in it. The offices should be done by late November or December.
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