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Jay Drew
Jay covers BYU athletics for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow him on Twitter @drewjay.

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BYU QB: "Preseason polls are the dumbest thing in collegiate sports."

Mentioned yesterday that the Cougars received a few votes in the USA Today Coaches Preseason Poll, but not enough to be ranked. They would be No. 36 if the rankings were extended that far.

Apparently, a student reporter at BYU's first practice last night thought that was a snub. He asked quarterback Riley Nelson what the Cougars can do to earn a higher preseason ranking.

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"Absolutely nothing," Nelson said. "Preseason polls are the dumbest thing in collegiate sports. They don't do it in basketball. What are you basing that information off of? I mean, 15 practices in spring and fall camps?

It means absolutely, it is just ... no comment. So there you go. I was going to say some strong words, but I will refrain."

For the record, they do have preseason polls in college basketball. But Nelson's point is well-taken. Coincidentally, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall is a Coaches' Poll voter this year.

Last night's practice ended at 6:30 p.m. and I left the practice facility around 8:15 p.m. after having filed this story about the first day of camp and this story about the O'Neill Chambers situation. As I was leaving, I noticed that Nelson was still on the practice field, going through plays with a couple of receivers and running backs.

That after one of the longest, hottest and more grueling practices imaginable.

Earlier Thursday, Nelson was asked if BYU's success in 2012 rides on his shoulders.

"No, I don't feel that way. There are 22 offensive and defensive starters, with another 15-17 guys helping out on special teams. So I look at myself as one cog in the machine, and just another piece of the puzzle.

I do have a high-profile position, and that's kind of the nature of the game. I definitely embrace that. But I see myself as a distributor. My role in the offense is to get the ball into the hands of our playmakers as quickly and efficiently as I can, and so those are my goals going into the season.

If I can do that effectively, I will have met my goals statistically, and all that stuff."


Here are a few leftover comments from Mendenhall after Thursday's practice (that I haven't used in stories and/or blogs):

On how he will handle a senior backup [James Lark] knowing he needs to get somebody ready for next year:

"Well, I think just by simply continuing to remind him that he's really one play away. And by the way [Nelson] plays quarterback, we all know that could be game 1, game 10, game 12. He's durable and he's tough, but he also likes to run with the football.

I think the reality to all of us is that, and James knows that. He's trained like it, so I think it actually works in our favor.

I think by knowing whom Riley is, I think that kind of addresses it on its own."

On what happens if Nelson gets hurt, and who might play:

"The abilities that Taysom Hill has, as being one of the fastest players on the team, etc., there is a chance that he might play, in addition to regular quarterback, possibly he plays, for what the catch-phrase is, Wildcat, or something like that. Maybe he is in there when one of the other quarterbacks is in.

That's a whole kind of distinctive -- rather than saying, 'just quarterback,' he could be gaining game experience possibly in maybe a different role."

On whether Taysom Hill's age could keep him from redshirting:

"I think certainly, especially if another role he could play will help our team immediately. And if that role could be significant enough, I think it would make sense [not to redshirt him]."

On Josh Quezada leaving and where that leaves the RB depth:

"Really, just one less. With more ability for Paul Lasike to possibly shine. More opportunity maybe for Jamaal Williams to emerge. More opportunity for David Foote to have a more significant role.

Then when you have Iona Pritchard, who could be a big-back ball-carrier, but also a fullback. I still think there could be plenty of bodies there, with Mike Alisa being the primary ball-carrier."

On what he's noticed about guys in last 24 hours:

"They are confident, they are optimistic, they are excited and realistic about where the program is, about what they are going to have to do, and how much work lies ahead. But they think they are capable."

On anyone standing out the first day:

"No, not today. There is so much to correct and fix the first day. It is hard to just really focus on anybody."

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