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Cougar Tracks: Spring Ball, Day 2

By Greg Wrubell   |  Posted Mar 6th, 2012 @ 7:26pm



The second day of BYU Football spring practices concluded after a 21-period, nearly two-hour helmets-only session at the IPF on Tuesday.

What followed, for the defensive players, was an extra half-hour of conditioning that consisted of nothing more than running through, around, and over blocking pads assembled on the field, with a hurdle at the end thrown in for good measure. Simple, right? Well, yes, unless the objective is for every player to do the drills perfectly, without touching the pads. Roughly 40 huffing and puffing defenders ran through those particular paces to frustration and exhaustion, until Bronco Mendenhall was satisfied.

"I'm not sure (how long it took)," said Mendenhall. "Seemed like a long time. I know that (wife) Holly is not excited with me right now, but sometimes that's one of those sacrifices you have to make," he added with a smile.

Asked what prompted the post-practice gauntlet, Mendenhall said "just fun; head coach fun." I'm sure the players had some other words for it.


Before I get to the latest depth chart and injury news (and there is lots of it today), here are some quick hitters--

: RB Juice Quezada looks like a different guy from the one who seemed to lack any spark last season. A pre-season ankle injury really hampered his 2011 campaign, and the junior back has come back strong and speedy this spring. Although players are not yet in pads, Quezada burst through the line and into the secondary on a couple of occasions, taking one carry 70 yards to the end zone in a memorable scamper.

: Joe Sampson had two interceptions and Jray Galea'i had a single pick in skelly and team sessions. Sampson and Mike Hague are splitting time between free safety and boundary corner; would-be starter at boundary, Preston Hadley, is sitting out spring, allowing Mendenhall to develop depth at that spot with Hague and Sampson.

: while the tight end numbers are down due to injury, Trevor Brown had a TD catch from Riley Nelson. TE Colby Jorgensen is back from shoulder surgery and is doing some position work, but is not back in contact. He plans to leave on his mission after spring ball concludes.

: OL Ryker Mathews (foot) has been cleared for position work, but is not full go. Mendenhall says he thinks Mathews will stay and play this upcoming season.

: QB Alex Kuresa has yet to participate in practice while Mendenhall assesses his academic progress. The coach says he'll review Kuresa's scholastic situation every Monday; he added that Kuresa plans to play this upcoming season before leaving on his mission.

: BYU signees Dylan Collie and Micah Hannemann were observers at today's practice. Collie's brother Austin was on hand, as was their father Scott. In fact, Austin Collie got the news that his teammate Peyton Manning has been released by the Indianapolis Colts while practice was ongoing. I was told Collie and Manning had recently spent some off-season time together, throwing.

: Deseret News columnist Dick Harmon described well the new drill the BYU offense goes through to start each practice; it has brought some welcome novelty to the previous routine.

: I am pleased that Zac Stout has resumed his BYU playing career; I was excited about his potential coming out of high school, and he has stepped right into the #2 spot at middle linebacker, behind Uona Kaveinga. Mendenhall says Stout is doing "really good; he's really excited to be back playing. His knee looks good. He's going to have to add some more leg strength, but he's running well, changing direction well."

: there are two BYU Rugby players in camp in RB Paul Lasike and NT Ray Forrester. Mendenhall says Lasike is "kind of emerging." He adds that Lasike "needs to learn the game first, but when you just give him the ball and he doesn't have to go anyplace particular, but just run, he looks pretty good." Forrest Gump was the same way, as I recall. Mendenhall says the rugby players "are very humble; those are my kind of guys."

: junior college transfer Marques Johnson is running with the second-string at nose tackle. Mendenhall says the 6'2", 305-pounder is "learning, and he's going to be good. Our plan originally was to redshirt him, but we'll probably play him some this year, just looking at what our depth needs will be.

: Mendenhall says that NCAA rules now allow four graduate assistants, instead of two GAs and two interns. With 2011 GAs Shaun Nua and Rob Morris having left the staff, Mendenhall has hired former BYU tight end Andrew George as an offensive graduate assistant, and recent Weber State assistant (and former Utah Ute) Jason Kaufusi on the defensive side. Kaufusi will work with Jason Walker, while George will join Kelly Bills. The hires become effective in August. Graduate assistants can now work for up to three years in their respective positions.

: Mendenhall was asked if he thinks the BYU Basketball team will get an NCAA Tournament bid. "We deserve one," said the coach. "I would love to see us in the tournament, and if I was voting, I would vote us in."


Besides the players already scheduled to miss spring recovering from injuries/surgeries, there are a number of nicked-up Cougars to cover today, courtesy of head trainer Kevin Morris.

WR J.D. Falslev: ankle tendinitis; "probably another couple of weeks before he can do some cutting," etc.

WR Mitch Mathews: groin strain suffered on Monday; "day-to-day, but he'll be a few days."

OL Braden Hansen: had bilateral ankle scopes; "we'll bring him along, with no contact, later this week, then kind of progress from there."

OL Famika Anae: calf strain suffered in pre-spring conditioning; "hopefully get him back here in a week or two."

OL Fono Vakalahi: recovering from ankle surgery on mission, will also have surgery on his other ankle; out for spring, hopeful for fall.

OL Ryan Freeman: stomach flu.

OL Kyle Johnson: hospitalized after suffering a small stroke over the weekend, out at least six weeks after his condition stabilizes. "Kind of a rare thing...doctors think he'll make a full recovery."

TE Devin Mahina: sick; held out of contact with regards to his 2011 neck injury.

LB Uani Unga: hamstring last week; "day-to-day; progressing really well."

WR Jordan Smith: hurt his knee in practice today; "X-rays look good."

DB O'Neill Chambers: hamstring pull yesterday.

DB Sawyer Powell: hamstring in conditioning last week; "kind of day-to-day, too."

By the way, Morris notes that the NCAA has studied indicating that spring football is the sanctioned sport with the most reported injuries.



Position 1st team 2nd Team 3rd Team 4th/5th Team
LT Solomone Kafu Corbin Kaufusi
LG Manaaki Vaitai Walter Kahaiali'i
C Blair Tushaus Terrance Alletto
RG Brock Stringham Terrance Motley
RT Michael Yeck Quinn Lawlor
TE Marcus Mathews Trevor Brown Kaneakua Friel Darin Tuttle
QB Riley Nelson James Lark Taysom Hill
WR-X Cody Hoffman Skyler Ridley/Mitch Mathews (injured) Rhen Brown/Mike Edmunds
WR-Z Ross Apo Dallin Cutler Brett Thompson Kurt Henderson/Terrenn Houk
WR-H J.D. Falslev (injured) Dallin Cutler Cody Raymond
RB Juice Quezada Paul Lasike Adam Hine Nate Carter
RB Michael Alisa Zed Mendenhall Austen Jorgensen Iona Pritchard (not full contact)


Position 1st team 2nd Team 3rd Team 4th Team
LE Eathyn Manumaleuna Mike Muehlmann Michael Doman
NT Romney Fuga Marques Johnson Ray Forrester
RE Ian Dulan Moses Kaumatule Simote Vea
SLB Spencer Hadley Alani Fua Tanner Cox Connell Hess
MLB Uona Kaveinga Zac Stout Manoa Pikula Matt Shirley
BLB Brandon Ogletree Tyler Beck Riley Bushman Sean Dyhre
WLB Ziggy Ansah Kevan Bills Seth Probert Lene Lesatele
FC Jordan Johnson Robbie Buckner Cameron Comer
Kat Daniel Sorensen Jray Galea'i Chase Pendley
FS Mike Hague (also BC) Skye Po'vey
BC Joe Sampson (also FS) DeQuan Everett


Wednesday will be a day off for the team; practices resume on Thursday afternoon.


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