BYU football: First day practice observations

Photo Courtesy of BYU Photo and BYU Athletics

There were many positive things to take away from day two at Camp Kalani. Both the offense and defense showed reasons for optimism and the energy and sense of urgency of being in the Big 12 was felt. 


Kedon Slovis and Aidan Robbins shined. The offensive line consistently held a relatively clean pocket for Slovis as he fluidly ran the offense. Slovis showcased his ability to hit the intermediate and deep routes, locate his receivers in timely situations, complete off-platform throws, and (most importantly) put the football only where his receivers could make plays and not in harm’s way. He brought about a sense of urgency and his leadership was felt as he high fived teammates throughout practice. Slovis carried himself very professionally and showed once again why he was named QB1 in the spring.


Alongside Slovis, we saw the dynamic versatility that Robbins brings with catching passes out of the backfield and powerful runs up the middle. Robbins did not disappoint in the limited amount of exposure we were able to see him in despite the limited amount of contact with the practice restrictions. He flashed speed, power, and force with his 6’3 and 240 pound frame. Seeing Robbins lined up alongside Slovis was nothing short of exciting and they should be a duo that will keep Big 12 defenses on their heels. 


We were able to take a good look at some of the skill positions players such as Kade Moore, Kody Epps, Keanu Hill, Southern Utah transfer Ta’ase Mata’ava, Dom Henry, and Hobbs Nyberg all made impressive catches. Hill notably brought the energy at practice highpointing a one-on-one fade versus Jakob Robinson, hyping up his teammates when he could. He also showcased his ability to run after the catch and his speed on a quick slant from Kedon Slovis. Ta’ase Mata’ava made multiple notable plays that stood out. Something of note that gives him a competitive advantage over the other tight ends this year is he knows Aaron Roderick’s offense inside and out because he played at SUU last year. Newcomer wide receiver Kevin Doe stood out with his size and speed. Is he a wide receiver? We don’t know, but he is strong and he is fast. Hinckley Ropati saw the lion share of the RB2 reps and showed off his explosiveness.


Another standout on the offense in the media observation was freshman quarterback Ryder Burton. The growth he’s made in his first eight months with the program has been impressive. Burton completed almost every throw he made and he did so with poise and confidence. Burton also showed his ability to manuever and adjust to the pressure while in the pocket. He has three competitive advantages. One, he knew the entire playbook last year because he committed to BYU earlier last year. Second, he was a midyear enrollee and started playing in the spring. Third, he’s been working out with John Beck this offseason. The future is bright for Burton. In fact, Slovis mentioned that Burton was the one who was asking him the most questions in the quarterback room, showing his hunger to become the starter one day. 


Switching over to defense, Isaiah Glasker proved himself once again with an interception, building off his strong spring performance. We were able to see Max Tooley, Ben Bywater, and Utah State transfer AJ Vongphachanh line up on the field at linebacker. Newcomers Kamden Garrett (transferred in from Weber State) and Dylan Flowers (transferred in from Southern Utah) showed good footwork and furthered their cases to be included in the two-deep at cornerback. According to Micah Harper, Flowers and Glasker stood out to him the most during day two at Camp Kalani. 


Other observations were that Raider Damuni had a nice pass breakup and John Nelson made a noteworthy stop right at the line of scrimmage. Eddie Heckard continued to impress with his coverage, tallying multiple pass breakups throughout the day. Harrison Taggart and Chaz Ah You were playing in tandem with the threes at Mike and Will linebacker. There are plenty of contenders to solidify depth which is a priority for Jay Hill as BYU inches closer to kickoff against the Sam Houston State Bearkats on Sep. 2.

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