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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 looking to bolster its kicking game

BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall said during June's football media day that the kicking game was still a huge concern for this upcoming season, despite having a senior placekicker returning in Justin Sorensen.

"Our punter, Scott Arellano, I actually feel pretty good about. I think he will do a nice job punting the football, and I think we will do a nice job protecting and covering. Our kickoffs, and our PATs and field goals, I am very concerned about," he said. "We have a junior college kicker that came in, and that will be to compete with Justin Sorensen. .... We didn't have a scholarship left for him."

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That juco transfer is Trevor Samson, from Fresno City Junior College, as has been reported previously.

However, the Cougars issued their pre-fall camp release on Friday night, and the release mentions another kicker who could also be in the mix: former Alta High kicker Vance Bingham. A freshman returned missionary, Bingham was known as "Moose" when he kicked for the Hawks several years ago.

Mendenhall said the kicking game might have cost the Cougars a couple of wins last year, but put most of the blame for the five losses on turnovers.

"Yeah, four or five games by 12 points total," he said. "It is pretty simple: ball security has a ton to do with it. Turnover margin, and then being able to run the football when we need to run it, when the other team knows we are going to run it. And conversely, they are trying to run out the game; we need to be able to stop them from controlling the ball. It is not a hard formula when we can run it and hold on to the football, and then play good run defense, those close games swing in our favor.

So coach Anae, our practices start every day with holding onto the football. And if you look at our biggest games, against our best opponents, and look at our statistics when we lose, and when we win, it traces right back to holding onto the football and not turning it over. Average scoring drive for the University of Utah the past three seasons is, I think, 17 yards."

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Perhaps the biggest news is that wide receiver Jordan Smith is finished with football and sophomore Kevan Bills will miss the season. Offensive lineman Houston Reynolds, who tore his Achilles' tendon in the loss at Utah, is also retiring from football due to medical reasons, but that was pretty much known.

Here's BYU's Release:

Players on the 2013 BYU football team reported for fall camp on Friday to begin preparations for the upcoming season. BYU will conduct the first practice of fall camp Saturday afternoon in preparation for the 2013 season opener on Aug. 31 at Virginia.

Some of the events taking place in advance of the first practice include a welcome from head coach Bronco Mendenhall, orientation, individual physicals and equipment issue.

Newcomers reporting for camp included Michael Davis (Fr. WR), Rylee Gautavai (Fr. LB), Brayden Kearsley (Fr. OL), Tomasi Laulile (Fr. DL), Dallin Leavitt (Fr. DB), Kai Nacua (Fr. DB), JohnRyheem Peoples (Fr. DL), Trajan Pili (Fr. LB), Jordan Preator (Fr. DB), Addison Pulsipher (Fr. OL), Colby Pearson (Fr. WR), Thomas Shoaf (Fr. OL), Merrill Taliauli (Fr. DL) and Vance Bingham (Fr. P/K).

The Cougars also welcomed transfers Josh Carter (OL, Jr., Eastern Arizona College), Robertson Daniel (DB, Jr., De Anza JC), Tim Duran (OL, Jr., Cabrillo College), Edward Fusi (OL, Jr. Mt. San Antonio CC), Sam Lee (DB, Jr. College of the Canyons), Trevor Samson (P/K, Jr., Fresno City JC), Kalolo Utu (DL, Jr. Compton CC) and De’Ondre Wesley (OL, Jr., Diablo Valley CC). Also reporting for fall camp were returned missionaries Bryan Sampson (R-Fr. TE), Algernon Brown (R-Fr. RB), Sae Tautu (R-Fr. LB) and Scott Lefrandt (Sr. DB).

Seniors Houston Reynolds (OL) and Jordan Smith (WR) have not been cleared medically to play and will not return for their final seasons. Sophomore Kevan Bills (LB) will also miss this season to recover from off-season ACL surgery.

BYU is entering its third season as a football independent in 2013 and gears up for a tough schedule that includes four opponents ranked in the preseason USA TODAY Top 25 coaches’ poll.

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In other BYU football-related news that broke on Friday, former Cougar receiver Austin Collie signed a one-year contract to play for the San Francisco 49ers. Collie was released by the Indianapolis Colts last February after playing for the Colts for four seasons.



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