BYU practice report: Bronco eases up a bit after Monday's marathon
BYU's practice this morning at the outdoor practice facility behind the student athlete building (SAB), the fourth practice of preseason camp, was open to the media. The last 45 or so minutes, that is. The Cougars didn't end the session with the tradition 11-on-11 team segment, and coach Bronco Mendehall later said that he took his foot off the pedal a bit and cut the workout short because Monday's practice at the IPF was so intense. "We have gone really hard. Yesterday's practice might have been one of the most difficult, intense practices we have ever had, and so yeah, even though it is Day 4, guys are working hard. So I cut it short today, because of that," he said. It did get a bit heated, with one scuffle breaking out that involved linebacker Alani Fua and offensive lineman Chase Larson, a walk-on. Both guys were sent to the showers early, and DL-turned-OL Tuni Kanuch joined them. A lot of other players simply weren't there, or were off to the side working out on their own. "Today was thin [numbers-wise]," Mendenhall said. The worst news was the revelation that McCoy Hill, the one-time all-state quarterback from Jordan High who played tight end his first year at BYU before a church mission, will undergo knee surgery on Monday. No official word on the timetable for his recovery. Freshman Hayden Griffits, a lefty from Florida, took third-team snaps Tuesday at quarterback. Monday, LB Toloa'i Ho Ching suffered a concussion, so he will be out a while. Regarding other injuries that have kept guys out of practice, Mendenhall said they are "mostly just soft tissue" injuries. "I think it is par for the course where we are in camp right now." Bronson Kaufusi, the former defensive end who will play linebacker this season, still hasn't practiced after tweaking a hamstring in offseason conditioning, according to DC Nick Howell. I asked Mendenhall if he's concerned because Kaufusi is learning a new position. "Not yet. If it were at this same time next week, I would start to get on the edge a little bit," he said. "So anything prior to maybe Wednesday of next week, I am OK with. Once it starts getting around there, I would be a little bit edgy." Tight end Devin Mahina told me that he's got a slight ankle sprain but he practiced a bit on Tuesday for the first time, then spent the other half of practice working out on his own or with a trainer and defensive back Sam Lee and fellow TE Terenn Houk. Mahina expect to go full tilt by the end of the week. A couple other projected contributors, linebacker Manoa Pikula and running back Algernon Brown, still haven't practiced yet due to academic reasons. Mendenhall said Brown is close to returning. "It's all just paperwork at this point. All the [academic] work is done, and grades have to be posted. Who knows how long that takes? We are just waiting for the administration to handle it."Pikula might be farther away from returning. "He actually has some coursework still to finish," Mendenhall said. "I think that finishes tomorrow, and then he will have to wait for the same cycle of grades to be posted." Mendenhall said Pikula will be "up to speed" by the time the season starts. "There has been enough experience and enough time in the program, it won't be an experience or an assignments issue with him," the coach said.Couple more odds and ends from practice: * Michael Davis has been switched back to cornerback. You can read more about that when my notebook is published on sltrib.com later today. * Freshman Sione Takitaki has practiced every day with the team and could play this season after reportedly being dismissed in July. More on that in the notebook, too. * Backup quarterback Christian Stewart can really throw the long ball. I've noted that fact a couple times now, but it was evidenced against Tuesday when he threw a long strike to walk-on receiver Travis Frei for a touchdown. "I like him," Mendenhall said. "He's done a nice job. More accurate, more decisive. And he is certainly a run-first quarterback, has been. But he has done a nice job delivering the football so far."* Running back Paul Lasike has flourished since taking up football to go along with his BYU rugby career, and now Josh Whippy is trying to do the same thing. Whippy is coming along nicely, Mendenhall said. "We were thin at running back," Mendenhall said. "I had seen him in the offseason program. He had expressed an interest, so he came out and he is big and he is fast. Still learning just how to get in the stance. So he has had four practices total. But Paul has helped him a lot. Too early to say, but he is a great young man. Really humble. One of the things with the rugby players that I like is they are so hard working and so humble and appreciative.