BYU football: Cougars backup quarterback getting lots of reps in camp
Provo • Newcomers to BYU's preseason training camp football practices who are not familiar with the program couldn't be blamed for thinking that senior quarterback Christian Stewart, and not much-hyped junior play-caller Taysom Hill, is going to start three weeks from Friday when the Cougars open the 2014 season at Connecticut.
Through six practice sessions, Stewart has received almost as many reps as Hill, and at times has looked better than the Davey O'Brien Award candidate.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall said after the Cougars' second full-pad practice of camp on Thursday that Stewart getting more reps than the typical No. 2 quarterback is by design in case Hill gets injured. He referenced how well Utah State played last year after losing all-everything quarterback Chuckie Keeton, saying the Aggies rolled on because they had other quarterbacks prepared to handle being a starter.
"And again, with the nature of offense that we play, even though Taysom is durable, even though Taysom is fast, is tough, the chance that mobile quarterbacks could go down at some point, you have to prepare for it," Mendenhall said "It does alter your plans, so we are doing our best to make sure our No. 2 is getting more reps than normal in the event that happens."
BYU doesn't have a lot of depth at the position because former Alta High QB Ammon Olsen transferred to Southern Utah and sophomore Billy Green transferred to Weber State in the offseason. Then, projected third-stringer McCoy Hill suffered a minor knee injury the first day of camp and underwent surgery on Monday.
McCoy Hill is already off crutches and should be back in a couple of weeks.
Run less Taysom, run less
Speaking of Taysom Hill's endurance, the quarterback said Tuesday that he probably won't run for 1,344 yards this season, like he did last season, because he will have more weapons around him such as Jamaal Williams and newcomers Devon Blackmon, Jordan Leslie and Nick Kurtz to pick up the slack.
"It is one of those things where we need to take what the defense gives us," Hill said. "So in our run game, it is all read. If they take the run away from Jamaal or Adam [Hine] or whomever it is, then it is on me. So I don't know. It would be nice if I could run less, I guess, and save my body a little bit. But if that is what they are going to give us, that is what we are going to do."
Bring on the Power 5
While discussing the NCAA's decision on Thursday to allow schools from so-called Power 5 conferences more autonomy to set their own rules regarding benefits provided to student-athletes, Mendenhall paused a moment and injected a little scheduling reminder.
"By the way, I would like to play more of them," he said. "Just so I can be on the record that way."
Mendenhall said with Algernon Brown practicing Wednesday for the first time, he feels good about the running back depth. "If we lose one running back along the way, we become thin" until Jamaal Williams returns from his one-game suspension. â¦ Mendenhall said the Cougars will scrimmage "a significant number of plays" at the stadium on Saturday, but didn't divulge whether the event will be open to the public or media.
What we learned • Backup quarterback Christian Stewart is getting more reps at practice than most No. 2 guys as the Cougars prepare in case starter Taysom Hill goes down.
Who was hot • Coach Bronco Mendenhall said Nebraska transfer Harvey Jackson is picking up the new defense quickly, but is struggling with the pace of BYU's practices.
Who was out • Projected starting inside linebackers Manoa Pikula (academics) and Zac Stout (knee) did not practice Thursday.