Provo • If a theme has developed after three days of BYU preseason football camp, it is that the Cougars are bound and determined to be ready physically for their demanding early schedule, including the opener at Oxford, Miss., where the heat and humidity are expected to be ultra-oppressive.
Naturally, they practiced in the air-conditioned indoor practice facility on Tuesday, rather than outside, where temperatures were in the 90s.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall said he hasn't forgotten that his team needs to be primed for that Sept. 3 sauna in the deep south. He just wanted to change the routine a little keep the players guessing as to what practice will be like from day to day.
"Camp is long, and the more that I can keep them guessing and break routine and break monotony, I like doing it that way," he said.
As for the dreadful climate conditions the Cougars will see at Ole Miss, Mendenhall said his emphasis will be on conditioning these next three weeks, as well as developing depth at every position.
"I think it affects the defense more than the offense. So each day the conditioning level kind of goes up and up and up. That will give us a chance to fight it. After coaching at Louisiana Tech, I am aware of the humidity and what it is like there. IVs are common at halftime. So we are basically telling our players that an IV doesn't mean you are going to the hospital," Mendenhall said. "It means you are getting ready for the second half. So we are preparing our players. I know that is an exaggeration, but it is going to be hot, it is going to be humid, and we will have to play a lot of players. We will try to get as many ready and in shape."
Unlike past years, when BYU differentiated the cornerback positions into field corner and boundary corner, there will likely be more switching this season, Mendenhall said. For instance, a player might be at field corner one series, then boundary corner the next.
Tuesday, senior Corby Eason and junior college transfer Preston Hadley were the first stringers, but Robbie Buckner, Jordan Johnson and Cameron Comer shuttled in for Eason. Joe Sampson and DeQuan Everett saw some time at boundary corner.
"You could see any combination. All the reps at corner right now are divided equally. We are kind of merging into that [new system]," Mendenhall said.
Tuesday's practice highlight was a 70-yard pass from Jake Heaps to Ross Apo in which the ball easily was in the air for 55 or 60 yards. â¦ Also, after kicker Justin Sorensen made field goals of 47 and 52 yards, Mendenhall let him try two from 67 yards. He barely missed both, but they appeared long enough.
What we learned • Kicker Justin Sorensen still has a powerful leg after his church mission. He kicked a 52-yard field goal and barely missed a pair of 67-yarders.
Who was hot • Running back-turned-safety Mike Hague continued to impress and is now in a dead heat with incumbent Travis Uale to be the starter at free safety.
Who was sidelined • TE Kaneakua Friel missed practice with a pulled hamstring and could be out for a while.
Up next • The Cougars resume preseason camp with a practice at 10:45 a.m. Wednesday.