The Brigham Young Cougars opened fall football camp Thursday, August 2. Practices were held three straight days before taking a break on Sunday. While it is just the beginning, the first three days have been jammed packed.
The only gear BYU has worn in practice is helmets (NCAA bylaws mandate helmets only the first two days). They are expected to wear helmets and shoulder pads on Monday (NCAA bylaws mandate no more than this for days three and four).
When camp opened some noticeable names were not strapping it up. Defensive lineman Jordan Richardson’s career is done, due to back problems. The senior wasn’t expected to have a major role this year, but he would have made a contribution. This opens the door for another underclassman to get more experience and address that dire need to develop replacement defensive linemen for 2013.
O’Neill Chambers was not invited to attend camp. It is an unfortunate end to his turbulent career. This was shocking news after he had worked for over a year to return to the team.
Speaking of shocking news, wide receiver Cody Hoffman and defensive back Joe Sampson did not participate with the team on Friday and Saturday, and they are expected to miss Monday as well. Head coach Bronco Mendenhall cited discipline for breaking a team rule as the reason for their absence. On the surface, this didn’t seem concerning. It was originally announced as a one day absence, but the longer it plays out the level of concern rises.
The timing is not good at all. As explained already, the NCAA mandates players practice for four days before dressing in full gear. By missing days 2-4, these players will still be going through the acclimation period while the rest of the team is fully dressed. In effect, they will miss more than three days, since Hoffman and Sampson won’t be able to practice in contact drills for three additional days. The thought that one more slip up during the season could result in a full week punishment (“progressive discipline”) and a game is very concerning. Hopefully, four months from now, Hoffman and Sampson’s absences are a distant memory that we give no thought to.
After asking the question, “Should Mike Hague move back to running back?” on the eve of camp, it is now clear that he is better off, and needed more, at defensive back. With Chambers no longer being with the team, and cornerback Robbie Buckner not expected to join the team until the season starts, the defensive backfield is suddenly a lot thinner.
A few new players have already started to stand out. Whether they can continue this trend and be significant contributors this season is yet to be seen. True freshmen Dylan Collie (WR) and Jamaal Williams (RB) are the two most notable from the 2012 signees. Redshirt freshman, return missionary Remington Peck has gotten some quality reps with the second string defensive line.
Tight end Devin Mahina continues to have bad luck with his health. After missing all of last season with a neck injury, Mahina broke a bone in his hand and will be out 3-5 weeks. That will put him further behind juniors Marcus Mathews, Austin Holt, Richard Wilson, and Kaneakua Friel. Fortunately for Mahina, after redshirting last year he is just a sophomore. If he can figure out to stay healthy, he will have one season of eligibility left when these others leave.
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