BYU football: Replacement corners help Cougars hold down UConn
Published: August 30, 2014 11:14AM
Updated: August 29, 2014 11:40PM
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BYU quarterback Taysom Hill (4) looks to pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Connecticut in East Hartford, Conn., Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham)

East Hartford, Conn. • BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall was impressed with the play of his fill-in cornerbacks.

Cougar quarterback Taysom Hill appreciated the work of some of the best scout-team defensive backs in the country.

After all of the uncertainty and speculation that spiced preseason practice, BYU survived its personnel issues in a 35-10 win over Connecticut on Friday at Rentschler Field. Fill-in cornerbacks Jordan Preator and Michael Davis held up well, according to Mendenhall, and Hill liked how suspended starters Robertson Daniel and Jordan Johnson “didn’t distract from the team” in practice.

Hill credited them with performing as “pretty freakin’ good” scout-team players, preparing BYU’s receivers for the season opener. Johnson and Daniel were listed as a starting cornerbacks on the depth chart published Monday, but they didn’t board the plane Wednesday.

Mendenhall anticipates having all five suspended players available next week at Texas, but cautioned that their status could change from week to week during the season. “They all have very specific things that they have to do,” Mendenhall said.

Preator, a freshman, and Davis, a sophomore who has spent time as a BYU receiver, were asked to do a lot against UConn. The Cougar secondary gave up 284 passing yards, including 189 in the second half, but the defense allowed only a field goal after halftime as the Huskies came up empty after three long drives. Davis was credited with eight tackles, impressing senior safety Craig Bills with his physical play, and Preator broke up two passes.

The Huskies’ production required making some tough catches in traffic, including a 39-yard reception that NFL prospect Geramy Davis took away from Davis.

Mendenhall said he reminded his defensive coaches during the game that Preator was “my sleeper pick” prior to spring practice as a player who could develop into a contributor.

“I was really happy for him and Michael Davis as well,” said Mendenhall, suggesting they demonstrated “the depth we were anticipating and hoping we’d have.”

Assuming that Johnson and Daniel assume their starting roles, Davis and Preator could help in packages as fifth and sixth defensive backs, Mendenhall said.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com