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While Other Programs Shut Down, BYU Continues On With ‘Lively And Enjoyable’ Camp

BYU Football Fall Camp practice with wide receiver Joe Nelson looking to haul in a pass. (BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

PROVO, Utah – The value of practices can not be understated for the BYU football program. While over 40 percent of FBS football has shut down for the fall season amid COVID-19, BYU continues to practice.

Whether football gets played or not this fall, these practices are valuable for a BYU team that is looking to get better from a pair of 7-6 seasons the past two seasons.

“I don’t know if people really understand how important practice. I mean that’s how you get better,” said BYU Passing Game Coordinator Aaron Roderick. “The NCAA allows you 15 practices in spring ball. That’s it, 15. And in fall camp you get 29 practices before your first game. Okay.

“Once the season starts you basically practice three times a week, so that’s about somewhere 36 to 40 something practices. So really, in most football seasons you’re more than halfway done with your practice season before you even play your first game. And then once that game starts those practices are so limited. As a coach, you start to gain an appreciation for how critical every single practice is. How critical every rep is.”

Every snap and every rep is being taken seriously. Especially with all the craziness in the national college football landscape, nothing is guaranteed this fall. In the words of Matt Bushman, “any football played this year is a bonus.”

With an understanding that very few teams are getting the opportunity that BYU is experiencing right now, they are making the most of camp and enjoying it a lot more than they would in years past.

BYU Camp: “Enjoyable and lively”

“I think everybody’s just having so much fun being out there. You know the games, kind of, you know, you realize right now how precious the opportunities are to play,” said Roderick. “So we are just having fun out there, you know it’s fall camp, but it’s not drudgery at all. We’re competing, we’re having fun getting better.”

The fun is taking place during a time where players and coaches have to wear face masks or even splash shields on their helmets, but that hasn’t taken away from the experiences they are having.

“We’re all following the rules about how we’ve been instructed to behave and we’re trying to do the best we can to keep everybody safe and healthy but at the same time, we are having fun out there practicing. This is the most lively and enjoyable fall camp I’ve ever been a part of so far. It’s been competitive, it’s been fun. Just a lot of enthusiasm.”

With one of the nation’s most experienced teams (15th according to Phil Steele’s preseason magazine), BYU knows that football is precious and it’s never guaranteed. That’s adding to the enjoyment level of this year’s fall camp amid so much uncertainty.

“I think we have mature enough players to realize how fortunate we are,” Roderick said. Every one of these guys on this team has friends in other programs that have either had their season canceled or their seasons still in question and they haven’t even been able to practice yet. So every rep of every practice is precious and we’re making the most of it.”

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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