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BYU football: Nonstarters get their chance at final camp scrimmage

Published August 21, 2011 11:01 pm

BYU football notes • Coaches evaluate depth as first-string players rest.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Provo • Some guy wearing a ball cap, sporting a goatee and sitting among top-level boosters whipped out his cellphone during BYU's scrimmage Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium and taped a few plays before security quickly made him turn off the device.

It is highly unlikely that he was a spy, but if he was, he went away awfully disappointed.

The Cougars showed absolutely nothing for any upcoming opponents on the field in their final scrimmage of preseason camp, as the first-string offense got in just one series (an 11-play, 72-yard drive for a touchdown) and the first-string defense got the day off entirely.

The other 40 or so plays were executed by a combination of second-, third- and even fourth-stringers as coaches used the day to evaluate their depth and decide who among the younger players will redshirt this year.

"Everybody played today," coach Bronco Mendenhall said.

Of course, he wasn't referring to all the defensive starters, receiver Ross Apo and running back Joshua Quezada.

Mendenhall said he could afford the luxury of keeping front-line players out to avoid injury because he believes the team is further ahead at this point in camp than ever before in his seven-year tenure.

"Usually, this scrimmage was Wednesday, in our traditional format. We are anxious to compete against each other for three more days, or maybe only two days. Combined with that will be Ole Miss prep, [which is] already beginning," he said. "I think experience has been helpful, with nine or 10 returning starters on either side, based on how you count it. … We were able to [look at] the depth in the scrimmage a little bit earlier."

Last-minute position battles

With two weeks remaining before the opener Sept. 3 at Ole Miss, Mendenhall said the only undecided position battles are at left guard (Houston Reynolds or Ryker Mathews) and the two cornerback spots.

Snow College transfer Preston Hadley has been the presumed starter at boundary corner, but Joe Sampson is creeping closer. Same goes at field corner, where Corby Eason is trying to hold off Robbie Buckner and Jordan Johnson.

"We will see if the guys held onto their jobs today [by looking at the film]," Mendenhall said.

Briefly

Kicker Justin Sorensen, sans a helmet due to 17 stitches in his forehead and upper lip, drilled a 57-yard field goal but missed a 49-yarder and had a 44-yarder blocked. … Mendenhall said up to four tight ends will play, but Austin Holt would be considered the starter if he had to name one. … Third-stringer James Lark was the second QB in Saturday and got more work than presumed backup Riley Nelson. Mendenhall said the backup battle continues and "is so close" that it might not be decided soon.

drew@sltrib.com

Twitter: @drewjay

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Practice points

What we learned • The nonstarters had their day in the sun at LaVell Edwards Stadium, as BYU's final scrimmage of preseason camp featured the first-sring offense on just one series. The first-string defense had the day off.

Who was hot • In his only possession of the day, Jake Heaps was 5-for-5 passing for 60 yards.

Who was sidelined • Among the projected starters on offense, receiver Ross Apo (tight groin) and running back Josh Quezada (mild concussion) were held out of the scrimmage.