Another day, another player lost for the season at BYU.
Monday, the Cougars learned they'd be without cornerback Jordan Johnson for the 2013 campaign, following an ACL tear suffered in Monday morning's practice.
Today, the school announced that an MRI confirmed a pectoral muscle tear for 6'3", 330-pound nose tackle Tuni Kanuch, who now requires surgery that will end his season.
After generally staying away from BYU camp, the injury big bit and bit hard on Monday, with the news that starting cornerback Jordan Johnson tore an ACL during practice on Monday morning; the school says a subsequent examination determined that season-ending surgery will be required.
Johnson's injury occurred during a kickoff return sequence, before the media's practice-observation period; head coach Bronco Mendenhall did not mention the injury and was not asked about Johnson in particular in interviews afterward.
Two days after a scrimmage that featured what head coach Bronco Mendenhall called a team that's "deeper and more athletic than what I've noticed," the BYU Cougars were back on the practice field Monday morning, for the first of two sessions.
Mendenhall said the players were "sluggish" in the early practice, adding that it was "the first two-a-day after week one, morning practice--(players were) not defiant, but sluggish in the realization that there are 19 more days until we play...looked to me like it had an effect on them."
"Execution was about the same," said Mendenhall in his post-practice interview; we just played slower this morning."
The BYU football team conducted its lone public practice and scrimmage of fall camp Saturday morning at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
The exercise was heavy on the practice and light on the scrimmage (three series worth), but the roughly 10,000 fans on hand were vocally appreciative of the chance to watch the players pop pads--exactly three weeks before the Cougars' season-opener at Virginia.
When it comes to the presence of quality wide receivers, head coach Bronco Mendenhall doesn't hesitate; he says in 2013, BYU has "the most at any one time."
"When you go back to the Todd Watkins and Austin Collie combination," Mendenhall said on Thursday, "that was pretty powerful, but (there was) not much depth behind them."
"We're deeper than we've ever been with good players."
PROVO — Following an internet firestorm that raged for upwards of four hours on Thursday, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall, after meeting with his players, has scaled back plans to replace player surnames with program mottos on the backs of their jerseys.
During BYU's annual Picture Day at the Indoor Practice Facility, players wore jerseys with the nameplates "Tradition," "Spirit" and "Honor"--the three core principles espoused by Mendenhall as program pillars--in place of their names. Mendenhall said he made the change without notifying the players, "or anyone else," and that he intended the change to remain in place "all season."
Tonight, on his Twitter feed, Mendenhall reversed course:
The media didn't see much of BYU's Wednesday afternoon practice in Provo, but in the 13 observed minutes of 11-on-11 action, the Cougars' new "Ride and Decide" offense dominated, scoring three touchdowns in four drives, with a handful of long plays peppering the period.
Taysom Hill and the first-string offense drove the field for a score in a series that included a 44-yard completion to sophomore walk-on Eric Thornton, a third-down connection with Skyler Ridley, and finally a 14-yard TD toss to Ross Apo. The PAT from Justin Sorensen was good.
The other day, when BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae said "we do not have one bona-fide starter" on the offensive line, I was reminded of his two-year tenure as offensive line coach at Arizona (2011-12)--a tenure that began with Anae inheriting the least-experienced offensive line in all of college football. Anae's 2011 offensive line featured exactly one career start among its returning players.
Running a version of the ‘Air Raid' offense, the Wildcats were understandably pass-heavy in 2011, ranking 3rd nationally in passing offense and 114th in rushing during the season. Ranked 38th in scoring, Arizona finished 59th nationally in sacks allowed. Following a shaky start to the season as multiple green players saw their first starts, the offensive was judged to have made significant improvements throughout the season, as players gained experience.
BYU's second day of training camp concluded with a 30-minute media observation period that was highlighted by a session-ending deep-strike touchdown pass from Ammon Olsen to Ross Apo.
The junior wideout dove parallel to the ground to haul in the roughly 45-yard offering, and once safely on the turf with the ball in his possession, Apo was mobbed by teammates.
It was a seemingly satisfying end of the day for the offense, but within minutes, satisfaction turned to exertion, as their boss Robert Anae had them doing a series of up-downs on the sidelines, the early evening sun still sizzling to accompany their efforts.
BYU head coach Dave Rose has added another instate star to his recruiting constellation, as Class of 2015 standout Zac Seljaas (Bountiful HS) has verbally committed to Rose--choosing BYU over Utah, Utah State and San Francisco.
In an interview this morning, Seljaas told me he notified Rose over the phone on Sunday, and that the coach "was excited and happy."
"There was a lot of thinking and a lot of talking with other people about different schools," said Seljaas about the decision process, "but I have just always wanted to commit early, just so I could get it out of the way, and focus on my high school season and AAU. I just knew that BYU was the right place."
BYU's already dicey depth situation at cornerback is even more so after day one of training camp in Provo.
Veteran defensive back Mike Hague, and junior college transfer DB Sam Lee did not take part in the camp opener, both dealing with injuries that are expected to keep them out through camp and into the season.
About Hague (knee), head coach Bronco Mendenhall said "I don't know what his estimated return is, but I don't anticipate him for (the season-opener at) Virginia." The coach said he is looking at an "early-season return" for the sixth-year senior.
On the first day of August, the first coaches' poll of the 2013 season was released, with the posting of the USA Today Coaches' Preseason Top 25.
BYU received 20 voting points, which ranks 36th among all teams receiving votes. The Cougars will in 2013 face four teams ranked in the preseason poll: No. 11 Notre Dame, No. 15 Texas, No. 19 Boise State and No. 23 Wisconsin. Utah State received 23 points to rank 35th.
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall is one of 62 FBS coaches on the national voting panel.
Dave Rose and the BYU basketball program added a fourth member to their recruiting Class of 2014 on Wednesday, with the news that American Fork High School center Ryan Andrus had verbally committed to Rose and the Cougars.
Andrus announced the news on his Twitter feed, saying "Just got off the phone with Coach Rose! Committed to play basketball for BYU!!! Couldn't be happier!!:)"
PROVO ‐ The BYU Cougars announced Wednesday that they have agreed to a two-game football series with Fresno State.
The first game will be played in Provo at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Nov. 21, 2015, and then at Bulldog Stadium in Fresno on Nov. 4, 2017.
The series is just the latest example of BYU's strategy to play more compelling games in the month of November. It also shows a continued willingness to schedule teams from BYU's former home, the Mountain West Conference.
Camp week has finally arrived. BYU players report for duty this Friday, with the first practice to follow on Saturday afternoon.
KSL.com's preseason previews continue this week with my assignment being to determine BYU's three most pressing training camp objectives.
PROVO — It may be a significant shift in the football rivalry between BYU and Utah State, which has exploded of late with the improvement of the Aggie program.
The schools announced Friday the series would change to a home-and-home format from the upcoming season through 2016, and the Utah State athletic director said that's the way he expects the series to continue in the future.
"The escalation of our football program and where we're at is a much different scenario," USU AD Scott Barnes said in a phone interview with KSL.
PROVO — BYU guard Kyle Collinsworth returned home from his LDS mission to Vladivostok, Russia in May. Tuesday was the first time the media had a chance to talk with Collinsworth since his return.
Besides the normal adjustments that missionaries have to make when they get home, Collinsworth is adjusting to basketball life, too. Kyle said that during his two years in Russia, he never picked up a basketball. He said he figured that playing basketball five or ten times wasn't going to make a big difference, so he decided not to do it at all and focus on the things he needed to do in Russia.
Just like we saw last year with Tyler Haws, Collinsworth has taken a more patient approach to getting back in basketball shape. So far, he thinks it's working.
The college football award watch list roll-out rolled to a stop on Friday, with the announcement of 50 candidates for the Walter Camp Award, given to the nation's most outstanding player. BYU's Kyle Van Noy is on the nomination list--his sixth such recognition of the preseason.
BYU enters the 2013 campaign with nine players accounting for 14 award nominations.
BYU running backs Jamaal Williams and Michael Alisa are among 63 nominees for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's premier running back. Alisa is a repeat inclusion from 2012, while Williams is a first-time nominee.
A senior in 2013, Alisa started five games in 2012 before suffering a broken forearm against Hawaii; he returned for spot duty in BYU's bowl game. On the year, he finished with 58 carries for 222 yards and a touchdown, adding 23 receiving yards on six receptions.
BYU on Wednesday received its draw for the semifinals at the CBE Hall of Fame Classic, with the Cougars opening against the Texas Longhorns, then facing either Wichita State or DePaul to close out competition.
Organizers of the Kansas City-based tournament announced the championship round matchups this morning, along with TV broadcast assignments. Both of BYU's games will be seen on ESPN Networks.
The tournament format calls for the championship round participants to host two on-campus contests before advancing to Kansas City; the opponents and dates for those games have yet to be announced.
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