PROVO ‐ BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall described Wednesday's practice as, "no pads; shorter, recovery-oriented (and) assignment-oriented. Similar format tomorrow with the intent to get our team as fast and as healthy and as recovered and assignment-sound as possible…next we'll just have to play and see where we are."
With Saturday's season opener against Virginia just days away, players and coaches were putting the final touches on their game plan for the Cavaliers. As is the case with most programs before a new season, it's hard to gauge where the team is without a game under its belt. "I don't think I absolutely know anything about this team until we play a game," Bronco said.
"I think they'll try hard; if I had to say what I most likely know, it's that."
"I'm going to read off fifteen words," my statistics professor Daniel Ho said, "and then give you a chance to write down as many words as you can remember."
Professor Ho read the words, waited fifteen seconds, and then told us to start writing. Once we had all finished, we repeated the exercise with a second set of fifteen words.
Once the second exercise had concluded, Professor Ho said, "Raise your hand if you remembered seven or more words from the first list." About half the hands went up.
PROVO — Four days away from the BYU football team's season opener at Virginia, offensive coordinator Robert Anae should be working on a game plan to pile on the points on the Cavaliers.
There's some of that. But Anae, who returned from a two-year sabbatical as co-offensive coordinator at Arizona, has enough to worry about with his own team.
The Cougars could start any one of nine guys on the offensive line, with only sophomore center Terrence Alletto cementing himself in the trenches. Every other position on the two-deep depth chart features co-starters, including junior Michael Yeck — the only lineman who saw time in every game a year ago.
On a day that BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall unveiled a post-camp depth chart, the Cougars continued game-week preparation for their season-opener at Virginia, with the team holding a typical "Tuesday" practice on Monday in Provo.
"It was very physical, it was fast, we got a lot of plays in," said Mendenhall of the late-afternoon session. "Lots of special teams emphasis; Justin Sorensen continues to kick the ball very well."
"I think we're deep at running back, and I think that we have plenty of receivers to throw the ball to."
PROVO — In ksl.com's final set of build-up previews to the 2013 college football season, this week's assignment is to make each in-state team's case as "Best in State."
My job is to state the case for the Cougars, so here we go:
Beehive Boot bragging rights
Head coach Bronco Mendenhall called it "one final chance to get a look at a few situations," after watching his team go through a Wednesday morning scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
With most first-stringers held out, Mendenhall said the exercise had as its primary objective the identification of personnel depth, "to see if we could solidify any extra players that we might want to take with us when we go to Virginia (for the season-opener on Aug. 31)."
The West Coast Conference released its 2013-14 Men's Basketball schedule on Tuesday, with the travel-partner format restored, as Pacific joins the fold to form a ten-team league.
BYU will open its conference season with the Los Angeles road swing through Loyola Marymount (Saturday, Dec. 28) and Pepperdine (Saturday, Dec. 30), before opening the home slate the following weekend, with San Diego visiting the Marriott Center on Saturday, Jan. 4. The Cougars will close out their WCC campaign by visiting the Toreros on Saturday, March 1st, following an in-week bye.
BYU's two byes come early (Thursday, Jan. 2), and late (Thursday, Feb. 27) in the conference season. From Thursday, Jan. 9 through Saturday, Feb. 22, BYU will play Thursday-Saturday every weekend, for seven consecutive weekends.
New faces in new places were the order of the day Monday in Provo, as the BYU football team opened its last day of a camp two-a-days with a morning session at the outdoor practice fields.
Due to multiple injuries, three players have been added to the 105-man roster, while at the same time, three players have been assigned to the defensive backs group--a position group hit hard by injuries over recent months.
The BYU Cougars neared the two-week mark in camp with another day of two-a-days on Friday.
The morning session (which reporters observed for the final 20-25 minutes) concluded with three series of 11-on-11 work; quarterbacks Taysom Hill, Ammon Olsen and Jason Munns each led one drive.
No touchdowns were scored in the no-shoulder pads, no-hitting "team" session.
PROVO — BYU announced its 2013-2014 men's basketball non-conference schedule on Thursday. In total, the Cougars will play 13 non-conference games; six at home, three on the road, and four at a neutral site.
After two preseason games at home against Colorado College and Alaska Anchorage on Oct. 26th and Nov. 2nd, the Cougars will begin the regular season at home against Weber State on Nov. 8th. The Cougars will then travel to Stanford on Nov. 11th to face the Cardinal in Palo Alto.
BYU has been invited to participate in the College Basketball Experience Hall of Fame Classic. The tournament will feature home games on Nov. 14th and 16th, and then the championship round at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri on Nov. 24th vs. Texas; followed by a matchup with either Wichita State or DePaul on the 26th.
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.
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