Provo • About halfway through spring camp — seven of 15 scheduled practices are in the books — coach Bronco Mendenhall reported this week that the Cougars’ much-maligned passing attack is making progress.
"Our completion percentage is really high," Mendenhall said after a workout in the Indoor Practice Facility, the first practice held inside as the weather in Provo turned cold and windy on Monday. "We have a very clear goal for the spring, and we are above that right now. We have a very clear goal for third-down percentage, and we are above that right now for the spring against our own defense."
Mendenhall wouldn’t reveal the specific completion percentage and third-down percentage that he and offensive coordinator Robert Anae are after, but added: "The things we are emphasizing, we are getting. I am encouraged by that."
Quarterback Taysom Hill threw for 2,938 yards last year, but completed just 53.9 percent (236 of 438) of his passes.
"Every day, we have been improving," running back Jamaal Williams said. "We do percentages for completions and third downs and every practice — well, last week we were going up and down — but since Friday we have been improving. This is the third day in a row we have been above our percentages. It just looks as if it is going to get better every day."
Talent aplenty at running back
Most BYU fans have probably never heard of Nate Carter, a walk-on from Dixie High School, and a junior. But Carter continues to turn heads at spring camp. On Monday, he had two touchdown runs of more than 40 yards.
Mendenhall acknowledged that the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Carter has been "earning consideration," but cautioned that he is busting the long runs because of defensive alignment mistakes as much as from his own prowess.
"But Nate is consistent and steady and working really hard. He’s had a nice spring so far," Mendenhall said.
Hine losing ground
Another running back from the St. George area, Adam Hine, is missing spring camp after undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason. Mendenhall said Hine, who is a phenomenal kick returner, is losing ground.
"He’s expected back in the fall, and he will have a hard time breaking in," Mendenhall said. "Each day that he’s out, Alge [Brown] and Jamaal and Paul [Lasike] are doing better and better. So we expect him back, we want him back. But he will come back as the fourth [running back]."
Junior safety Craig Bills wore a red jersey — which means he cannot be hit — on Monday because he hurt his elbow, Mendenhall said. … Defensive lineman-turned-linebacker Bronson Kaufusi had an interception on Monday, as did sophomore defensive back Garrett Juergens. … The Cougars will practice again on Wednesday, but there won’t be media availability. On Friday, BYU will conduct its annual high school coaches clinic.
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