Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Depth and recruiting

I have just a word or two to say about two important areas of BYU football: Depth and recruiting.

First depth. It doesn't take a brain scientist to see BYU will have issues with depth this year. While some positions look very deep and strong (offensive line, defensive line, receivers), other positions are looking mighty thin indeed.

For example: Today's scrimmage, which featured no starters, was "disappointing," according to head coach Bronco Mendenhall. Part of the disappointment, without a doubt, had to be the offense's painfully futile attempts to move the ball down the field.

Max Hall didn't play, and neither Brendan Gaskins (10-for-15, 90 yards, two ints.) nor Kurt McUen (7-for-14, 65 yards, 1 int.) were able to put points on the board.

Only one QB, Stephen Covey, moved the ball into the end zone.

Thanks to Jay Drew's BYU blog for the information.

Our quarterback situation is very scary, in my opinion. This report, along with what I've seen with my own eyes, leads me to believe we have absolutely no depth at quarterback. Max Hall is a warrior, and I would rather him lead our team than anyone in the country, but behind him there stands an empty closet. Gaskins and McUen are nowhere near the QB Max is, and if Max should happen to go down this year (heaven forbid), we can effectively kiss this season goodbye.

Covey, on the other hand, represents a reason to be optimistic. This was the second scrimmage in which Covey was used as an "option" quarterback, and since he was the only one to see the end zone today I'd say he's been making progress. Running quarterbacks are always exciting, but a running quarterback at BYU is reason enough to get downright silly.

I would love nothing more than to see Covey take the field for a few plays every game and run around. But that's just the kind of guy I am. If BYU can add a speedy option-type dimension to its game, and do so effectively, we'll be that much more formidable. Heck, we'll be daunting. Yeah, I said it. Daunting.

Another position with which we have depth issues is linebacker. I like our starting four; Doman, Bauman, Nixon and So'oto will be a solid group. I'm especially excited to see how So'oto makes the transition from offense to defense. He's already the fastest guy on his side of the ball, and his experience with the offense will only help him key in on opposing QBs, WRs and tailbacks.

However, BYU lost two starters in the offseason in Terrence Hooks and Grant Nelson. That loss will prove to be costly as the season goes on. Behind the starting four, whom I mentioned earlier, will be Matt Ah You (fresh off a mission), Coleby Clawson (Snow JC transfer), Jadon Wagner (RS freshman), Michael Alisa (true freshman), Spencer Hadley (true freshman) and Iona Pritchard (true freshman).

Recently joining the ranks at linebacker is another true freshman Daniel Sorenson.

Look that list over again. Does this alarm anyone else? I know these guys are all great athletes, but I'm looking at this list and I only see two guys (Nixon and Bauman) who have played in a college football game as a linebacker.

Don't think about it too long or you'll get a little freaked out. Like me, right now. I'm thinking about it and I'm freaking.

Fortunately we have great coaches who will prepare our young crop of linebackers sooner than we might think. Ah You and Clawson, for instance, have already been praised by coaches, and are pushing their teammates for playing time. Sorenson was such a playmaker that they switched him to a position in which he might see the field faster. Encouraging to say the least.

Also, I still maintain a hope that Hooks will be back in the lineup in mid-September.

And David Nixon will be rock solid this year. Nixon has a nose for the football and his speed will be a huge asset. Look for him to "Ballard" a few poor QBs this year on more than one occasion.

On to recruiting.

You may have heard about BYU's recent commitment from Brett Thompson, a wide receiver out of El Dorado Hills, Calif. Thompson is 6'3"/210 and a three-star recruit from Oak Ridge High School. Thanks to 4th and 18 for the picture.

This is a very nice commitment for the Cougs. I can't say that I'm very surprised, but I'm still very, very happy.

To give you some perspective, our last 6'3" three-star receiver was this dude.

BYU is clearly targeting big, tall receivers and I couldn't be happier. No one will hear this guy complaining if we can get three Austin Collies lining up every play. Sprinkle in a speedster like McKay Jacobson for good measure and you've got yourself a very nice WR core.

In other words, good work BYU. Now hopefully Chris Washington, who said he will make a decision before his senior year begins, chooses BYU soon as well.

Finally, Spanish Fork tight end Richard Wilson has been on the receiving end of a lot of hype lately. And rightfully so. He's a strong, tall, sure-handed tight end in the mold of Jonny Harline, Dennis Pitta and the like.

He has listed BYU in his top four schools, but this recruiting battle is just starting to heat up. Wilson's stock is only going to rise, and I won't be surprised if he's lured away to a BCS school (especially since Miami, a school known for producing quality tight ends, is high on Wilson's list).

I can't say I would be all that disappointed if Wilson decided not to come to BYU. I mean, I know he'd be a great fit and a great get for the program, but if there's any year we can afford to miss out on a tight end it's this one. We are so loaded at tight end it's not even funny. Here's a sampling of what we have:

Andrew George--Junior
Dennis Pitta--Junior
Kaneakua Friel--Freshman
Braden Brown--Freshman
Devin Mahina--Mission
Austin Holt--Mission

Every one of those guys are big time tight ends. I'm not saying we can't use any more athletes, but I am saying BYU won't exactly be hurting if Wilson decides to ditch the whole Utah scene.

Okay, that's all I have for today. Please discuss.


The Tuck Man said...

Thanks for the kudos. Nervous as you know what on the LB depth situation. This year its hold our breath but I believe that bridge will begin to be gapped by Filiaga, Fanua, Van Noy and or Manti (cross our fingers). My honest vibes says Wilson will be a yewt. Absolutely love your blog!

Evan said...

I don't want to put a curse on Max either, but you saw what happened to Oregon last year (Dixon). And that was with one of the nations best running backs. Although other than those 2 guys they didn't have much, which I think BYU has more of. But that sure would suck to go 9-0, 10-0, and then loose Max. I am sure he will be fine, just because he couldn't finish his mission doesn't mean he won't be able to finish the season. Also, I was a little upset not to see Pete Sampras on the greatest athlete of all time poll. You can remove Michael Johnson off of there now that Mr. Lightning bolt destroyed another record.

Rock said...

Hey, I liked Michael Johnson. I read his autobiography in 11th grade.

It was Urban "Utah won't pay-up" Meyer that said the difference between non-BCS teams and BCS teams is not the nubmer ones, but the number twos and threes.

Gaskins seems to have a good QB build and good fundamentals, but he just doesn't seem to have the fire needed to be a starting QB. It's something Jo Beck didn't really have until his '06 season. Gaskins almost seems content with his spot, but I think the back-up QB needs to be chompin' at the bit and maybe even talking some trash about the starter.

Adam said...

Hey everyone, I re-read this post and discovered a mistake. Three of our returning linebackers, not two, have real game experience: Nixon, Bauman and Doman.

I forgot to mention Shawn Doman, which is surprising because I actually really like Doman a lot.

Dun said...

I was going to say what you said. Doman is back, and is solid. Ah You is also solid; Bronco has said a bunch of times that he is basically even with Doman and he'll sub those two liberally. And Clawson played at Snow, which is wayyyy different, but still college ball (kinda), and according to all the published reports I've seen he's been good enough to move up to 3rd on the OLB depth chart.