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Cougar Tracks: Spring Ball, Day 10

By Greg Wrubell   |  Posted Mar 20th, 2012 @ 6:40pm


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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."

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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."

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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."

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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.

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DAY TEN DEPTH CHART - OFFENSE

Position 1st Team 2nd Team 3rd Team
LT Corbin Kaufusi
LG Braden Hansen Terrance Allletto
C Blair Tushaus
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
FS Skye Po'vey
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.

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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."

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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.

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Photo courtesy Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo

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