BYU's injury-addled football team took another personnel hit on Tuesday, an otherwise great day for spring practice in Provo.
Projected starting field corner Jordan Johnson went down and left practice about midway through the two-hour session; head trainer Kevin Morris said Johnson "just kind of tweaked his knee" after getting tangled up in a one-on-one drill.
"ACL is good," said Morris of his on-field assessment, with a further evaluation pending.
Seeing another likely first-teamer leave the field, head coach Bronco Mendenhall could only shake his head.
"'Crap,' would be what I would say, I guess," Mendenhall offered, with a resigned laugh. "For lack of a better word."
BYU's injury situation has become the story of spring ball, but Mendenhall said "not very much," as to how much concern he has about the spring absences, relative to fall camp productivity.
"Spring practice is hard to manage, but we get them all back healthy in the fall, and we have a good team," said Mendenhall. "We get three tight ends back, we get eight offensive linemen back, we'll be adding seven defensive linemen, we'll be adding a healthy Iona Pritchard, we'll have Ross Apo back by then. We'll have our offense back, which will be hard to stop."
Hardest hit by injury has been the BYU offensive line, which on Tuesday rotated only eight players among the ten spots on the first two teams.
"That's what we'll do Saturday, is scrimmage with eight guys," Mendenhall said after practice. "How many plays we can get, I'm not certain."
New injuries or absences on Tuesday, in addition to the many already previously reported:
CB Jordan Johnson: knee
FB Zed Mendenhall: re-aggravated ankle sprain from last season
OL Walter Kahaiali'i: ankle
DB Jray Galea'i: lower back
RB Iona Pritchard was absent for reasons unknown; NT Ray Forrester had a rugby obligation, while DB Joe Sampson was out due to academics. Mendenhall said Sampson's playing status would be assessed "probably more day-to-day."
BYU's helmets-only practice ended with a lackluster 11-on-11 session. Three quarterbacks combined to go 0-for-8 passing, with practically the only positive yards coming on an 11-yard Riley Nelson scramble. Ziggy Ansah was playing at a defensive end spot for the first time in spring ball; he had a tackle for loss and what would have been a fumble recovery touchdown.
Mendenhall said Ansah will play both defensive end and strongside linebacker; "He can both, which is great, and we need him at both," said the coach.
In Jordan Johnson's absence, O'Neill Chambers saw most of the first-team reps at field corner; Mendenhall said Chambers will likely play that position and "maybe nickel." Nevertheless, he said Chambers' situation "is a work in progress, and that's the way it ought to be presented."
Chambers intercepted Ammon Olsen in an earlier "skelly" (no linemen) portion of practice; Skye Po'vey also picked off Olsen. Riley Nelson led a six-completion TD drive in skelly, while Taysom Hill completed four passes in a skelly scoring drive. Nelson's short TD toss went to Marcus Mathews, while Hill found Terrenn Houk with a 40-yard strike.
DAY TEN DEPTH CHART - OFFENSE
|Position||1st Team||2nd Team||3rd Team|
|LG||Braden Hansen||Terrance Allletto|
|RG||Manaaki Vaitai||Terrance Motley|
|RT||Solomone Kafu||Quinn Lawlor|
|TE||Marcus Mathews||Kaneakua Friel||Devin Mahina|
|QB||Riley Nelson||James Lark||Taysom Hill|
|WR-X||Cody Hoffman||Skyler Ridley||Mitch Mathews/Mike Edmunds|
|WR-Z||Kurt Henderson||Terrenn Houk/Brett Thompson|
|WR-H||Dallin Cutler (also Z)||Cody Raymond|
|RB||Juice Quezada||Paul Lasike||Adam Hine|
|RB||Michael Alisa||Austen Jorgensen|
DAY TEN DEPTH CHART - DEFENSE
|Position||1st Team||2nd Team||3rd Team|
|LE||Eathyn Manumaleuna||Ziggy Ansah|
|NT||Romney Fuga||Simote Vea|
|RE||Ian Dulan||Mike Muehlmann||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/Lene Lesatele|
|FC||O'Neill Chambers/Robbie Buckner (also BC)|
|Kat||Daniel Sorensen||Chase Pendley|
|BC||Mike Hague (also FS)||Cameron Comer (also FC)|
While not listed in the active depth chart (reserved for players who took the field in full-contact, skelly and/or 11-on-11 periods of practice), there were some injured/limited players who participated in certain no-contact drills and segments. Among them were tight ends Austin Holt and Richard Wilson, both of whom are recovering from ACL surgeries last season. Wilson actually caught a downfield pass at one point, while Holt was seen doing some stand-up blocking.
Also, offensive linemen Ryker Mathews (LT), Famika Anae (LG), Houston Reynolds (C), Ryan Freeman (RG) and Walter Kahaiali'i (RT) made up a no-contact offensive line combination in one particular drill.
An injury post-script, from head trainer Kevin Morris: "It's kind of like I said at the beginning of (spring): the NCAA has shown twice as many injuries (in spring) as (compared to) fall football. I don't know why; is it the intensity (because) we don't have a game to prepare for?...I don't know. We're trying to find the facts, I guess."
The team will have a day off tomorrow, before a final pre-scrimmage practice on Thursday afternoon. A final week of spring drills will follow next week.
Photo courtesy Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo