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BYU football: Secondary struggling in spring practices

Published: Wednesday, March 14 2012 12:55 a.m. MDT

PROVO — Stats often don't tell the whole story during games and they certainly don't during most practice sessions. While Riley Nelson went 4-for-6 for 71 yards — marching the offense down the field for a touchdown on Tuesday, it was largely due to some blown coverages by the defense.

"It's still not nearly the progress that we're hoping for," said coach Bronco Mendenhall after the sixth day of spring practices. "(There were) some assignment mistakes in the secondary and I think when you visit with coach Doman he'd say that we'd like to see some more progress."

During the touchdown drive, Nelson found a wide-open Joshua Quezada for a 48-yard pass — unaccounted for by any defensive player. On the very next play, Nelson found a wide-open Cody Hoffman in the endzone from 12 yards out. Hoffman moved behind Mike Hague, who was expecting over-the-top coverage.

The story of the day, however, was the running of Paul Lasike.

Lasike saw his first real work against the first-team defense — running the ball three straight times for gains of 9, 16 and 9 yards.

Quarterback Taysom Hill also completed his first pass during the set — hitting Darin Tuttle for 15 yards.

SWITCH TO SAM: It's not often that a two-deep player switches positions in the offseason, but that's exactly what junior Spencer Hadley did. After playing regularly at inside linebacker a season ago, he made the switch to strongside (sam) linebacker in an effort to replace Jordan Pendleton.

The move appears to be working out after just a week and a half of practice.

"He's doing a great job and he's picking it up really fast," said outside linebacker coach Kelly Poppinga. "I really don't think there will be much of a drop-off from Jordan from a year ago. They have some catching up to do to match Jordan's (Pendleton) physical attributes, but hopefully they can get there and I'm happy with Spencer and what he's doing."

Hadley said the sam linebacker position caters to his athletic makeup, and is the spot where he's most likely to start given the return of starting inside linebackers Uona Kaveinga and Brandon Ogletree.

"It's a lot like how I played in high school, so I am used to a lot of it," said Hadley. "It can be frustrating though, and I'm learning every day. I'm missing some assignments, but that's part of the learning process, but overall, I think it was the right move for me."

Hadley is competing with sophomore Alani Fua at the position. Fua saw some good game experience last year.

"Alani is progressing and is getting better every day," said Poppinga.

"He's so athletic and he's tall and he's also gained some weight, which he needed to do. With Spencer and Alani at sam and then Kyle Van Noy and Ziggy (Ezekial Ansah) on the other side, I think we're going to have four guys that we can depend on and make plays on the outside."

email: bgurney@desnews.com

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