Heading into spring ball, BYU first-year defensive coordinator and secondary coach Nick Howell thought his cornerback spot had never looked better.
Field corner Jordan Johnson was returning for his junior season after breaking up 15 passes in 12 starts last year. Junior college transfer Trent Trammell was expected to immediately compete and likely replace Preston Hadley at boundary corner. Football/baseball cross-over Jacob Hannemann was penciled in to push for playing time. Veteran corner/safety combo players Mike Hague and Skye PoVey were projected to contribute, juco recruit Sam Lee boosted corner depth, while freshman Dallin Leavitt was another standout addition from the recruiting Class of 2013.
"We, I believe, had more depth than BYU has ever had at corner," said Howell this week. "Healthy bodies, good players...and now, things change fast, so you've gotta adjust on the fly and you've gotta go--that's what happens."
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall on Wednesday abbreviated a scheduled morning practice, calling for "a slight break today."
Citing injuries and fatigue, Mendenhall said "I thought we started to lose some momentum in camp." He said the team did not do any 11-on-11 work today, but instead worked on individual/unit assignments, wanting to "work on some recovery, physically, and focus on treatment," before "looking to gear it up again."
Mendenhall said the practice was conducted at "walk-through" tempo; the session ended before reporters arrived, so the scheduled media observation period was not held.
Another day, another player lost for the season at BYU.
Monday, the Cougars learned they'd be without cornerback Jordan Johnson for the 2013 campaign, following an ACL tear suffered in Monday morning's practice.
Today, the school announced that an MRI confirmed a pectoral muscle tear for 6'3", 330-pound nose tackle Tuni Kanuch, who now requires surgery that will end his season.
After generally staying away from BYU camp, the injury big bit and bit hard on Monday, with the news that starting cornerback Jordan Johnson tore an ACL during practice on Monday morning; the school says a subsequent examination determined that season-ending surgery will be required.
Johnson's injury occurred during a kickoff return sequence, before the media's practice-observation period; head coach Bronco Mendenhall did not mention the injury and was not asked about Johnson in particular in interviews afterward.
Two days after a scrimmage that featured what head coach Bronco Mendenhall called a team that's "deeper and more athletic than what I've noticed," the BYU Cougars were back on the practice field Monday morning, for the first of two sessions.
Mendenhall said the players were "sluggish" in the early practice, adding that it was "the first two-a-day after week one, morning practice--(players were) not defiant, but sluggish in the realization that there are 19 more days until we play...looked to me like it had an effect on them."
"Execution was about the same," said Mendenhall in his post-practice interview; we just played slower this morning."
The BYU football team conducted its lone public practice and scrimmage of fall camp Saturday morning at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
The exercise was heavy on the practice and light on the scrimmage (three series worth), but the roughly 10,000 fans on hand were vocally appreciative of the chance to watch the players pop pads--exactly three weeks before the Cougars' season-opener at Virginia.
When it comes to the presence of quality wide receivers, head coach Bronco Mendenhall doesn't hesitate; he says in 2013, BYU has "the most at any one time."
"When you go back to the Todd Watkins and Austin Collie combination," Mendenhall said on Thursday, "that was pretty powerful, but (there was) not much depth behind them."
"We're deeper than we've ever been with good players."
PROVO — Following an internet firestorm that raged for upwards of four hours on Thursday, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall, after meeting with his players, has scaled back plans to replace player surnames with program mottos on the backs of their jerseys.
During BYU's annual Picture Day at the Indoor Practice Facility, players wore jerseys with the nameplates "Tradition," "Spirit" and "Honor"--the three core principles espoused by Mendenhall as program pillars--in place of their names. Mendenhall said he made the change without notifying the players, "or anyone else," and that he intended the change to remain in place "all season."
Tonight, on his Twitter feed, Mendenhall reversed course:
The media didn't see much of BYU's Wednesday afternoon practice in Provo, but in the 13 observed minutes of 11-on-11 action, the Cougars' new "Ride and Decide" offense dominated, scoring three touchdowns in four drives, with a handful of long plays peppering the period.
Taysom Hill and the first-string offense drove the field for a score in a series that included a 44-yard completion to sophomore walk-on Eric Thornton, a third-down connection with Skyler Ridley, and finally a 14-yard TD toss to Ross Apo. The PAT from Justin Sorensen was good.
The other day, when BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae said "we do not have one bona-fide starter" on the offensive line, I was reminded of his two-year tenure as offensive line coach at Arizona (2011-12)--a tenure that began with Anae inheriting the least-experienced offensive line in all of college football. Anae's 2011 offensive line featured exactly one career start among its returning players.
Running a version of the ‘Air Raid' offense, the Wildcats were understandably pass-heavy in 2011, ranking 3rd nationally in passing offense and 114th in rushing during the season. Ranked 38th in scoring, Arizona finished 59th nationally in sacks allowed. Following a shaky start to the season as multiple green players saw their first starts, the offensive was judged to have made significant improvements throughout the season, as players gained experience.
|Marlins Park, Miami||12/22 12:00 pm|
|Marriott Center, Provo||12/23 12:00 pm|