A Sunday night snowstorm and cooler temperatures moved the BYU Football team indoors to start the third week of spring practice on Monday, with the extensive injury/absence list also serving to chill the competitive environment.
Compared to what the Cougars' two-deep will ideally look like on September 1st, Monday's depth chart was barely recognizable at some spots. Existing conditions or pre-spring injuries had already knocked out or limited more than a half-dozen expected starters/front-line players (LB Kyle Van Noy, CB Preston Hadley, DL Russell Tialavea, OL Braden Brown, OL Houston Reynolds, OL Ryker Mathews, WR J.D. Falslev, TE Devin Mahina, TE Austin Holt, TE Richard Wilson, PK Justin Sorensen), while in-camp injuries have sidelined a handful of other prominent or would-be contributors (WR Mitch Mathews, WR Jordan Smith, WR Ross Apo, OL Brock Stringham, TE Trevor Brown, LB Brandon Ogletree, CB DeQuan Everett).
The offensive line has been the hardest hit; with very few experienced players available, head coach Bronco Mendenhall has significantly curtailed Saturday's scheduled spring game, with the LaVell Edwards Stadium affair now termed a "short scrimmage."
"It won't be long, and it won't be a spring game," said Mendenhall. "It'll be a scrimmage and it will be very short. Starts at noon, and it'll be over by one (o' clock)."
Mendenhall said those taking part in the scrimmage "will be mostly players that we're not counting on for the fall...maybe we'll evaluate some depth if we can find positions where we want to see depth...young players only."
Assessing the numerous players out for either all or part of spring, the coach said simply that "guys that are hurt need to get healthy, and they won't get healthy 'til the fall."
That said, Mendenhall acknowledged a level of aggravation with the personnel situation. "Would we be a better team if they were all practicing? Absolutely. Am I frustrated that they're not out here? Yeah, more than I can say, but we've modified practice the best we can."
Monday's two-hour, helmets-only practice featured a 20-minute 11-on-11 session to end end the day, during which offensive chains were minimally moved. Numbers of note:
Riley Nelson (two series): 2-for-6 passing, 15 yards, INT (Mike Hague)
James Lark (one series): 2-for-4, 23 yards
Taysom Hill (one series): 0-for-1, 3-yard rush
DB Jordan Johnson also recorded a pass break-up.
During a skelly session (no linemen), Nelson threw a TD to Cody Hoffman and an interception to Daniel Sorensen; Lark was picked off by CB O'Neill Chambers, while Taysom Hill found Cody Raymond for a score.
Mendenhall said he can understand QB Riley Nelson's frustration with quick play-ending whistles and offensive injuries affecting the offense's ability to move the football. "It's hard," said Mendenhall. "There are a lot of guys out, and the quick whistles are to try and keep the team as healthy as we can. He's a competitor and he wants to score touchdowns; I'd be upset if he wasn't frustrated."
Clearing the notebook:
New offensive graduate assistant Andrew George doesn't officially start on the job until the summer, but he is allowed to be a part of practice; today was his first day on the field.
Chambers changed his jersey number from 62 to 15; Mendenhall said Chambers apparently chose the initial unusual jersey number to "reflect that's he's not expecting anything, and he doesn't view himself as anything other than a guy just trying to make the team."
TE Trevor Brown is the latest player to suffer a season-ending injury at that position. Brown (younger brother of Braden) torn an ACL last week and will be lost for the 2012 campaign. "I've never seen anything like it," said Mendenhall, about the recent rash of severe TE injuries. McCoy Hill (headed on an LDS mission after spring ball) has been moved from QB to TE during spring ball to help with numbers there.
OL Braden Hansen ran some live contact periods today; that's good news as he makes his way back from bilateral ankle scopes. In a non-contact period, one offensive line combo featured (from left to right) Ryker Mathews, Famika Anae/Braden Hansen, Houston Reynolds, Ryan Freeman and Walter Kahaiali'i
Halfway through spring ball, here's an updated list of projected two-deepers or potential contributing players either out altogether, not taking part in full-contact periods of practice, or otherwise limited by previous or new injuries; also included are players absent or sick on Monday:
QB: Jason Munns (foot)
RB: Iona Pritchard (ankle/leg)
TE: Austin Holt (knee), Devin Mahina (neck), Richard Wilson (knee), Trevor Brown (knee)
WR: Ross Apo (shoulder), J.D. Falslev (ankle tendinitis), Jordan Smith (knee/quad), Mitch Mathews (groin), Rhen Brown (hip)
OL: Braden Brown (shoulder), Houston Reynolds (shoulder), Ryker Mathews (foot), Famika Anae (calf), Brock Stringham (leg), Michael Yeck (sick), Ryan Freeman (lower leg), Fono Vakalahi (ankle)
DL: Russell Tialavea (foot), Marques Johnson (shoulder), Jordan Richardson (back)
LB: Kyle Van Noy (shoulder), Brandon Ogletree (foot), Ziggy Ansah (class), Spencer Hadley (sick)
DB: Preston Hadley (shoulder), DeQuan Everett (ankle)
PK: Justin Sorensen (back)
DAY NINE DEPTH CHART - OFFENSE
|Position||1st team||2nd Team||3rd Team|
|LT||Corbin Kaufusi||Solomone Kafu|
|LG||Braden Hansen||Terrance Allletto|
|C||Blair Tushaus||Manaaki Vaitai|
|RG||Manaaki Vaitai||Terrance Motley|
|RT||Solomone Kafu||Quinn Lawlor|
|TE||Marcus Mathews||Kaneakua Friel||Darin Tuttle|
|QB||Riley Nelson||James Lark||Taysom Hill|
|WR-X||Cody Hoffman||Skyler Ridley||Mike Edmunds|
|WR-Z||Dallin Cutler||Kurt Henderson||Terrenn Houk|
|WR-H||Dallin Cutler||Cody Raymond|
|RB||Juice Quezada||Adam Hine||Paul Lasike|
|RB||Michael Alisa||Zed Mendenhall||Austen Jorgensen/Iona Pritchard (not full contact)|
DAY NINE DEPTH CHART - DEFENSE
|Position||1st team||2nd Team||3rd Team|
|LE||Eathyn Manumaleuna||Mike Muehlmann|
|NT||Romney Fuga||Simote Vea|
|RE||Ian Dulan||Moses Kaumatule|
|SLB||Alani Fua||Seth Probert||Matt Shirley|
|MLB||Uona Kaveinga||Zac Stout||Uani Unga|
|BLB||Tyler Beck||Manoa Pikula||Sean Dyhre|
|WLB||Kevan Bills||Tanner Cox||Connell Hess|
|FC||Jordan Johnson||O'Neill Chambers/Cameron Comer|
|Kat||Daniel Sorensen||Chase Pendley|
|FS||Joe Sampson (also nickel)||Skye Po'vey|
|BC||Mike Hague (also FS)||Robbie Buckner|
BYU will be back on the practice field tomorrow, with a day off on Wednesday. A Thursday practice will precede Saturday's stadium scrimmage.
Photo courtesy of David Almodova, BYU Director of Athletic Marketing and Promotions