BYU football: Every healthy player will see action in Friday's scrimmage
Provo • BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall generally downplays the significance of scrimmages in preseason training camp and almost always holds out key players as a precautionary measure.
That won't be the case on Friday night when the Cougars scrimmage at 6 p.m. at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Gates open at 5 p.m. and admission is free.
This one means a lot, Mendenhall said Thursday after a morning practice at the outdoor practice facility.
"We will scrimmage everybody tomorrow, so I would like to see some really clean execution offensively," Mendenhall said. "I would like to see really physical defense. I would like to see good tackling. I would like to see us protect the quarterback well, throw and catch the ball well, and I would like to be able then to assess what the personnel is and maybe sort out definitively what the two-deep will look like, see where our kicking might be."
The coach and his staff will break down Friday's film to determine what they will work on the final week of camp. Preparations for the opener at UConn on Aug. 29 begin at the end of next week.
Just past the midway point of camp, Mendenhall said after 15 practices that his team is three-deep at almost every position, but there are position battles still being waged at almost every spot.
About the only surety is that Taysom Hill is the starting quarterback and leader of the offense and senior safety Craig Bills is the leader of the defense.
"We not only have enough players, but we have enough depth, too. If a player isn't ready on any given day, man, guys go by him," Mendenhall said. "I am actually looking for the scrimmage tomorrow to be able to solidify some of those things. And to make a few more decisions as to who gets more of the reps ... I would like to go longer, if possible, but not hedge that too much against injury possibilities. Most of what I am trying to sort out is competition, and some of the position battles."
Hill honored again
BYU's Hill was named to the Manning Award Watch List on Thursday. The award goes to the top quarterback in the country, and includes 32 QBs heading into the 2014 season. The Manning Award bills itself as the only QB award that includes the candidates' bowl performance in its balloting.
Hill, a junior, threw for 2,938 yards and rushed for 1,344 yards last season and is also on several other watch lists, including the Maxwell Award, the Davey O'Brien Award and the Walter Camp Award.
Linebacker Manoa Pikula practiced Thursday for the second-straight day after missing the first 13 practices to clear up some academic issues.
"A lot of good players at inside 'backer, so he has his work cut out for him," Mendenhall said of the projected starter.
Defensive lineman-turned-offensive lineman Tuni Kanuch practiced Thursday on a limited basis.
Mendenhall said sophomore Travis Tuiloma is the frontrunner to be the starting nose tackle against UConn. Senior Marques Johnson entered camp at the top of the depth chart, but will miss the opener for violating team rules.
Projected starting tackles DeOndre Wesley and Ului Lapuaho switched sides on Thursday, with Wesley playing right tackle and Lapuaho playing left, but Mendenhall said the move isn't permanent.
Here's the kicker
Mendenhall said the race to be the placekicker "changes daily" and that currently senior Trevor Samson has the edge over Moose Bingham and Andrew Mikkelsen, a walk-on who played at Oregon State before a church mission. Former Hurricane High kicker Corey Edwards is back from his mission, but he had "a little bit of a sore back," Mendenhall said, and hasn't joined the team yet.
BYU camp corner
O What we learned • Coach Bronco Mendenhall canceled practice Wednesday night and took the team to the movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because he wants the Cougars to be fresh and peaking for Friday's 6 p.m. open scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Who was hot • Receiver Mitch Mathews has had a quiet camp, but Thursday he caught a 60-yard touchdown pass from Taysom Hill in an 11-on-11 drill. Cornerback Trenton Trammell picked off Hill earlier in the workout.
Who was out • Linebacker Harvey Langi suffered a knee bruise in Wednesday's practice and is day-to-day.