BYU football: Establishing new offense is the priority at spring camp
Provo • In the middle of negotiations for a contract extension, and with an entirely new offensive staff, BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall opens his ninth spring football camp Monday with three primary goals.
The coach said Friday that he wants to strengthen the team's unity and work ethic, install new offensive coordinator Robert Anae's offense (which won't be as similar to the one he left after the 2010 season as some might think) and establish a strong, two-deep chart on offense and defense, defined roles that players can take with them into offseason workouts this summer.
Part of that latter goal includes solidifying roles in the kicking game and placing more emphasis on special teams than in previous camps.
Emerging from the four-week camp with a clear-cut starting quarterback wouldn't be a bad idea, either, Mendenhall concedes, but he says that might not be possible due to sophomore Taysom Hill's uncertain status as he continues to recover from knee surgery.
Hill is ahead of schedule, and "is going to be able to do quite a bit. But at this point, no contact," Mendenhall said. "The majority of non-contact things, he will be able to participate in."
Mendenhall said he has instructed the offensive coaches to view all the offensive players "through fresh lenses" and "as if they hadn't seen them before," so as to give all players, including the quarterbacks, as clean of a slate as possible, as far as on-field performance is concerned.
Those who have worked the hardest in the offseason will start camp at the top of the depth charts.
"Between the quarterbacks that we have, I would love to have a starter clearly defined by the end of spring," Mendenhall said. "I can't project yet, nor predict yet how that is going to happen, because of where Taysom is, and until we see how much he can do. That's going to be difficult, and so it might not happen by then."
Along with Hill, senior Jason Munns, junior Ammon Olsen, freshman Billy Green and freshman Tanner Mangum will vie for the quarterback reps at camp, although Mangum will leave on a two-year LDS Church mission shortly after camp ends.
Camp is structured differently this year, as the Cougars will practice Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The open-to-the-public spring scrimmage is on March 30 (11 a.m., LaVell Edwards Stadium), although camp won't end until April 5.
The every-other-day approach "gives us meeting times in between to make sure that each practice has a chance to be truly productive," Mendenhall said, seemingly tipping his hand that Hill is still the favorite to be named the starter. "That should help Taysom as well to get a little more time between practices where hopefully he can participate at a little bit higher level than he would have if we were going four [practices] a week, rather than three."
Personnel-wise, the biggest question mark is at offensive line, which seems to be the case every year. Junior center Blair Tushaus is transferring, while junior Brock Stringham and sophomore Ryker Mathews will miss due to injury and/or recent surgery.
"We brought in a high number of junior college offensive linemen, for that very reason, so we have enough bodies," Mendenhall said. "We might have enough to have a three-deep, actually, which we haven't had in spring for quite some time."
Sophomore defensive end Bronson Kaufusi, who joined the BYU basketball team after the Cougars' 23-6 win over San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl, won't participate in spring camp until the basketball season concludes.
"I think that is the right thing to do," Mendenhall said Friday, after noting last month that Kaufusi's presence on the basketball team won't be a "long-term situation."
BYU 2013 Spring Football Camp
Monday • First practice, 4:20 p.m.
March 22 • High school coaches clinic
March 28 • Pro Day
March 30 • Spring scrimmage, LaVell Edwards Stadium, 11 a.m. (open to public)
April 5 • Alumni Day, final practice