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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 opens spring camp with precious little depth at QB position

The first of 15 practices or scrimmages that will make up BYU’s 2014 spring football camp is in the books.

The Cougars went for about two hours outside today, with temperatures almost spring-like (60 degrees) despite the calendar saying it is early March.

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Perhaps the biggest revelation today was that coaches have already settled on Taysom Hill’s backup this season, what with 2013 backup Ammon Olsen having transferred to Southern Utah in early January.

That backup is Christian Stewart, who was the third-stringer last year after transferring in from Snow College.

The media was allowed to watch the last half-hour or so of practice, and Hill and Stewart were the only quarterbacks who took snaps in the 11-on-11 drills.

"Right now, Christian Stewart is our No. 2 guy. He’s a senior and he earned it last year. With the departure of Ammon [Olsen], he is our No. 2 quarterback," said offensive coordinator Robert Anae. "Right now, the only [other] guy we’ve got in the program is Billy Green, and he’s running three. So that’s pretty much the quarterback, 1, 2 and 3."

So, there aren’t a lot of guys to throw the ball around at practice; Most teams generally have five or six quarterbacks in the program. Coach Bronco Mendenhall was asked about that lack of depth at the most important position on the field.

"It is a concern," Mendenhall said. "Christian Stewart, we know who he is, we know what he can do. Now, just execution-wise, how proficient can he be in demonstrating that in spring practice?

So that will tell us a lot, and about how comfortable I am [with the situation].

But who he is, and his knowledge of the offense, those things are right on. Now he just has to demonstrate the capability of moving the football against our defense this spring, and I will feel better."

Mendenhall said in a teleconference in late January that BYU has a scholarship for an additional quarterback set aside and will keep an eye on the high school and junior college ranks in the next couple of months. He didn’t sign a prep quarterback last month, saying they got in the game too late for a quality prep QB after Olsen announced he was transferring.

Anae said Monday that coaches are being patient.

"Well, we didn’t recruit any [quarterbacks]," he said. "With Ammon [Olsen] leaving, that is kind of something we are going to just let play out. We got a kid [McCoy Hill] coming back from a mission who was not recruited as a quarterback per se, so we may go into this fall with just three.

We are going to take a look at him. Now, he wasn’t recruited here as a quarterback, but you know, because of where we are at, we are going to take a look at him in the fall."

Hill, who played quarterback at Jordan High in Sandy, Utah, walked on as a tight end before an LDS Church mission. He returns this summer.

"It is still too early to tell if we have [a scholarship available], but we went into the recruiting year not with that agenda. So, it is recruiting. It always shakes up late, so we could have one fall through. I am not big right now on scrambling, because a big part of our program is fit. So we could get a great JC guy in here and redshirt him, but the fit part has to be there. I don’t mind going into the fall looking for that in the fall," Anae said.

Here are a few more comments from Anae. I will have more on the opening day of spring camp, including most of Mendenhall’s comments, in a subsequent post.

Anae on the depth this spring as opposed to last year:

"We were able to fill two whole units, so we were able to get a lot of work done from the team perspective. Like I said, two whole groups. We are not deep enough to go three, so right now when we go 11 on 11 we are working two whole groups.

Without lineman, we were able to go three groups in smelly. So a lot of new guys. A lot of guys getting a feel for the offense. We threw a lot at them today.

They will have tomorrow to kind of mill over it and learn from film. We will insert on Wednesday, give them another dose.

You are probably going to be interviewing guys that are spinning on offense. It is designed that way."

Anae on the offense with a year under its belt and the difference between last year and this year:

"The starting point is much further than it was a year ago. As you guys saw right at the end, our deal is will over skill. So right now, our starting point with that is way, way further down the road."

Anae on how juco receiver Nick Kurtz looked:

"You know, probably getting to a point of ‘wow, what just hit me?’ It was a lot of that. You can ask him if he shows up."

Anae on what conversation with Mike Davis was like before Davis moved back to WR:

"It didn’t take much. The kid wanted to do that, so we left it open to him and he chose to come back. So, we will coach him up."

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