BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall said he wouldn't have it any other way. He's looking forward to playing No. 15 Texas in the home opener on Saturday, instead of a cupcake from the Football Championship Subdivision.
"We designed it to jump right into it and go. I am looking forward to it. Our team is looking forward to it. I think we have a good chance. I think we had a good chance a week ago. I think we will have a good chance in every game. Certainly we need to improve, and improve substantially, but I am looking forward to the game," Mendenhall said as he addressed reporters on Wednesday after practice in Provo.
Mostly, Mendenhall's chat with the media was personnel-oriented, as he answered questions about injured players, players who are trying to transfer to BYU, and others.
A quick recap:
* Mendenhall said linebacker Uani Unga (chest contusion) is "possible" to play against Texas.
"I don't know exactly what possible means, other than it is probably more likely than doubtful, but less likely than probable. ... Which means when they kick if off, we will both probably know. But I don't right now," he said.
* Mendenhall said WR Cody Hoffman (hamstring) is "probable" for Texas.
"Hoffman practiced today. ... Let's take a big step forward on that one. That's the language I get and I look at them like you are looking at me. So I thought we would just be unified."
* Mendenhall said DB Mike Hague (hamstring) is doubtful. His injury is much more serious than Hoffman's.
* Mendenhall said that def. back Sam Lee, a junior college transfer who injured his back before fall camp, is not recovering well and probably won't play this season.
"I just found out yesterday. We were expecting him [to re-join team]. He's been in a brace, a back brace since two a days. Most likely he is not going to return this season. We were expecting that he might practice next week and be ready for the third game. But he has not healed as expected."
Mendenhall said he believes Lee has a redshirt year, but wasn't sure.
* Notre Dame transfer Chris Badger, from nearby Timpview High, has been practicing with the Cougars since Monday.
"He is hopeful to get an appeal that might allow him to play immediately. If he doesn't then he will just sit this year and just practice and not be able to play," Mendenhall said, later adding that he "hasn't put any time or effort or energy into it. That was just something that was passed on to me by a compliance officer. I guess there are some circumstances that I can't speak to, nor am I aware of. I just heard that might happen. Nor am I planning on it."
* Mendenhall said Tayo Fabuluje, the offensive lineman from Texas who is trying to transfer back to BYU from TCU -- after transferring to TCU two years ago -- definitely will not join the team this season. Fabuluje has enrolled at BYU and started classes on Tuesday.
"Tayo, I haven't talked to, haven't had any conversations with, and really don't intend to," Mendenhall said. "He has a lot of academic work to do, and that ought to be his focus, and he won't have anything to do with our program until eligibility and/or any other issues there might be, if there are any, are resolved. I probably won't have a sitdown conversation with him until January, would be my guess, at this point. If that soon."
* Mendenhall spoke Wednesday as if freshman nose tackle JonRhyheem Peoples might be asked to redshirt.
"Two-man rotation right now [at nose tackle] is probably the way it will finish for the year, I would guess. Marques [Johnson] did a nice job and will probably get five more snaps. I think he got 15, so maybe 20-ish is where I would feel comfortable with him. Eathyn [Manumaleuna] played great.
The guy who has earned more playing time is Logan Taele, who is a walk-on. He is playing well. He gives us some flexibility at end with Bronson [Kaufusi] and Remington [Peck]. But he would be the next one in, after Eathyn. So if Eathyn can play both, Logan would be No. 5 in terms of defensive linemen that would play."
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