The Cougars went inside for Monday night's football practice, the second of the day, and coach Bronco Mendenhall was happy with the effort and intensity, but a little irritated by more chippy play (read: minor scraps) during the team session. Media members were allowed to watch the last half hour.
"Right now, when the team gets in competitive situations, with a lot of pressure, it becomes more individual than team. So a lot of execution work and composure work is still necessary," Mendenhall said. "They've gone against each other now that maybe grudges from four days ago play out and kind of heighten when the pressure comes on. So I would like to see more composure and maturity -- both sides -- when it gets frantic and chaotic at the end."
Mendenhall said BYU "got a ton of work done this morning, and some situational work done." He said the players have been "really consistent" and that's he's impressed with their day-to-day effort, and "willingness to keep working."
Tight end Marcus Mathews, who has been ill, was back out there practicing on Monday, showing no ill effects from the sickness that sidelined him most of last week. Offensive lineman Braden Brown, offensive lineman Houston Reynolds and defensive lineman Romney Fuga returned to practice after missing some time last week.
Player are "starting to trickle back in, yeah," Mendenhall said. "And usually the Saturday of that first week and a half is where you start to gain momentum. So that kind of held true. We got two or three guys back today, which was good."
Plenty of guys just watched the last half hour with the media, however, including DL Ian Dulan, TE Richard Wilson, WR Dallin Cutler, OL Brad Wilcox, K Justin Sorensen, WR Jordan Smith and WR Mitch Mathews.
Speaking of Sorensen, Mendenhall was asked again if there's anything new on his status, and it was easy to see that Bronco is getting tired of the daily question.
"I know it is a hot topic, but I still expect him to kick against Washington State. So, just use that as the baseline, and I will kinda alter it as we go. But that's still what we are expecting," he said.
Mendenhall mentioned last week that he might be able to share a few depth chart details on Monday. However, he apparently decided against it when asked tonight.
"We are just going to keep it internal. We have a pretty good idea of what the depth is now. Yeah, I just didn't really see any need, after thinking about it, to make it public yet. So we will just keep rolling. It will be announced during game week anyway, just like normal. So I think that's the best way to handle it after kind of thinking about it.
Still a lot could happen after another week, but not a lot, but a few key positions."
I asked him what those key position battles are, in his eyes.
"I am anxious to see, tight end-wise, with the health of Austin [Holt] and Richard [Wilson] and how they might fit into it," Mendenhall said. " We have some running back decisions to make. It is not who plays, but really continuing to define how they are going to be used. Depth at receiver: not the first maybe four receivers. But five, six, seven there is kind of a pack there. We are hoping to get some separation. "
So does that mean coaches have settled on a fourth receiver?
"The fourth receiver right now would be Mitch [Mathews], That would be where it kind of leans right now," Mendenhall said.
Tuesday and Wednesday, it will almost be back to normal, as far as media access is concerned. We get to watch the last half hour of the morning practices each day.
"Just kind of a consistent build into the season," Mendenhall said when asked why he changed midstream. "So it kind of went from any access to limited access. Then pretty soon it will get to the season focus, whenever that is, I don't remember. Just kind of building that part."
Couple of happenings in the team session:
* Receiver Ross Apo made a fantastic one-handed catch on a perfectly thrown ball from Riley Nelson.
* Backup defensive back Skye PoVey picked off Taysom Hill.
* Receiver Dylan Collie's right ankle was heavily taped, but he still got in a lot of reps.
* Spencer Hadley had a pair of whistle sacks.
* JD Falslev caught a 16-yard touchdown pass.
* Nelson was 9-for-15 for 106 yards, 1 TD. James Lark was 5-for-7 for 27 yards, Taysom Hill was 1-for-3 for 5 yards and the interception.