“It’s no mystery that on our first day we probably ran a little bit faster,” said Wide Receiver Mitch Mathews. “It’s going to start being one of those things where we’re going to start cutting it back for UConn so we can be a little bit fresher. That’s one thing that was a concern last year was to make sure that we were 100 percent fresh and by staying healthy on the field. We’re getting better but at the same time we’re not going to be worn out.”
What was supposed to be another grueling double day of practices actually turned out to be a much needed surprise that saw the team head to the movies to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
“It was a nice break because we thought we were going to be going to practice,” Mathews said. “Instead the coaches are pulling us out of meeting with megaphones. It was fun and changes things up so we’re not in the everyday routine. It has to happen where we practice and we go get beat up, but at the same time we have to stay fresh and get better.”
“They tell you guys everything,” Running Backs Coach Mark Atuaia said with a laugh. “I didn’t grow up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but my group in my room they have. It’s funny to hear them talk about it.”
In Coach Atuaia’s meeting room there might not be a lot of ninja turtle references popping out, but they have what’s called the “Dos Equis Title” that’s played out from among his running backs.
“We have a title in our room called the, ‘Dos Equis Title” for the most interesting man,” said Atuaia with a smile. “It usually passes from Paul [Lasike] to Adam [Hine] and then sometimes to Jamaal. Sometimes Adam will come through with nun chucks and we’ll give him the title. Then Paul will play the piano and get the title, and then Jamaal will do some kind of dance. Everyone is always trying to find that title, but in our room there is that culture where everyone is growing but when we get on the field it is all business.”
Much like Coach Atuaia, Mitch Mathews had never heard of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles growing up like most of his teammates. He admits he was a little embarrassed not knowing much about the cartoon series.
“It was good but honestly I was embarrassed because I didn’t know the whole Ninja Turtles movies like everyone else,” said Mathews. “I was embarrassed and missed that cartoon earlier in life and in my younger days. It was a good movie and I loved it. It was hilarious and you should go see it.”
Moving back to football related topics, Mathews and roommate Nick Kurtz have been spending a lot of time together both on and off the field. Kurtz had a screw inserted into his foot yesterday, and Mathews was there to comfort and help out in any way possible.
“It’s good that we are actually roommates,” Mathews said knowing how difficulty it can be going through an injury. “He’s not LDS but we gave him a blessing. I told him my side of if you do the right things on and off the field that miraculously you’ll heal faster. I had a season ending injury and that was one of the hardest things that I’ve had to go through.
“I’ve missed some games but if you have the right mindset you’ll always come back from an injury much faster and better than before the injury. It’s not a mystery where that comes from. It comes from being a good guy on and off the field. You realize what you’re missing when you’re injured and you come back faster, stronger, and better by not being that guy who quits working hard. I told him to be ready and be in the best shape that he can because we’re going to need him when he can run.”
Apparently, when the surgeons went in to repair the damage, the injury wasn’t as bad as initially diagnosed, which will speed up the recovery process.
“I guess when the doctor went in to do the surgery he told him he changed it from six to eight to five to six, so that was something that when the doctor went in to look at it the injury was better than he thought,” Mathews said. “That’s a game where he can come back earlier, because that guy can score.”
The offense will miss Nick Kurtz’s 6-foot-6 frame and pass-catching abilities, but Taysom Hill will still have the size of Mathews to connect with. Mathews mentioned that Coach Mendenhall once said that tall receivers where the thing that scared him the most.
“Coach Mendenhall said that one of the scariest things he doesn’t like is tall receivers,” Mathews said. “He said tall receivers are the scariest thing he would be faced with [as a defensive coordinator]. It’s comforting to know that we not only the first and second guys resolved but our third and fourth. We have specific plays for guys with height and goal line stuff we’ve been doing better than we’ve ever had. It’s hard to stop the offense when you have tall receivers.”
Now that it’s the middle of fall camp, the challenge is now keeping players focused and polished up on the little nuances within the offense and the formations.
“It’s just tightening the screws down,” Mathews said. “We’ve gotten to the point where we’re not putting in any new plays and that was our first learning curve that we had. Now it’s about the tweaks to the plays that we have. It’s more about shifts and adjustments to the receivers in a give situation or play. If there are trips to the outside it’s more about knowing what receiver you are, if you’re an inside or outside receiver. We’re in the right shape and we’re playing our best football, but it’s about being perfect within the offense.”
Being a more experienced player within the offense, Mathews has acted as an extra pair of eyes in helping the newer receivers get acclimated into the offense. It’s a way in which some of the veterans can further contribute due to their experiences.
“Yeah, absolutely and it happens,” he said. “I don’t want to act like a coach because these guys already have their coaches, but I’m still able to be an extra pair of eyes and say, ‘This is what I’ve done when I was in that position and this is what works for me’ and little things like that. It’s little hints here and there that can make a big difference.”
“Hey whatever is needed to get our players up to speed is good and the players do help each other out by being that extra pair of eyes,” said Coach Atuaia. “Our guys in my group do the same thing and it helps during times like this because of the monotony that can come with practice. The challenge now is to keep the guys focused and fresh and looking back at all the small things. That’s kind of what we try to do to see who is going to finish strong.”
Based on reports, it sounds like an outing to the movies is a great idea for BYU to try again in the future. A break from the daily bumps and bruises is something the players probably wouldn’t mind.