BYU notebook: Cougars ready to display their depth along the O-line
PROVO — It appears BYU will be doing some rotating on the offensive line for its season-opener against Washington State on Thursday.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall released the depth chart Monday, and three positions on the offensive line — center, left guard and right guard — list two potential starters. That means there could be multiple players seeing action on the O-line.
"There could be two centers that play on Thursday," Mendenhall said. "It's probably not the ideal … but the competition has been so tight between not only centers but guards, that in order to keep our best guys on the field, that's the direction we're leaning."
"If that's what coach feels is best out of the gate, then fine," said quarterback Riley Nelson. "My preference is to stay with the hot hand. You have to play a couple of series in the game to see who has a feel for their defense and their fronts … If we have to switch, I have no problem with it."
The center spot lists sophomore Blair Tushaus and junior Houston Reynolds. If BYU uses both players, how could that impact the quarterback-center exchange?
"We wouldn't rotate them if we thought that was a giant risk," Mendenhall said.
What adjustment does Nelson need to make if he deals with two different centers?
"They both have different shaped backsides. So that's something different," Nelson quipped. "The contour is different for my hand. But once that adjustment is made, I trust them. Houston's a little bit more sweaty than Blair, which is unfortunate for me. I trust both of those guys."
Reynolds is also listed at left guard along with sophomore Famika Anae, while right guard features senior Braden Hansen and sophomore Brock Stringham.
Mendenhall said having multiple players at those positions reflects the depth the program enjoys.
"Probably the most depth we've ever had, and that's a good thing. Not only as the one's and two's, but the volume of scout team players that are scholarshipped it's never really happened before. So it's kind of reflective of the depth of the program, I think."
WADSWORTH ADDED TO ROSTER: Monday marked the first day of classes at BYU, which meant new walk-ons were allowed to join the team.
The most high-profile name on the list of newcomers is defensive back Michael Wadsworth, a transfer from Hawaii. In a controversial story that received considerable national attention, Wadsworth, who played for the Warriors as a freshman, requested a release from his scholarship so he could transfer. Hawaii coach Norm Chow allowed him to transfer anywhere but BYU. The school reportedly believed Wadsworth had been contacted or recruited by BYU while on his mission. Wadsworth chose to come to BYU anyway as a walk-on and pay his own way.
"It's a unique situation," Mendenhall said. "Any time releases are asked for and not granted, in particular just to a single school, it's difficult. I'm just glad he's here. I met him for the first time today. I wasn't able to have any contact with him until the first day of school. It was fun to finally meet him."
Wadsworth will redshirt this season and play on the scout team.
Asked if Wadsworth would have been given a scholarship under different circumstances, Mendenhall said, "Oh yeah, he's a good player. A great LDS kid, excellent grades, living the standards, returned missionary. Sometimes it's not that hard to see when kids are like that and go on their missions and after they've matured why they want to come to BYU. We don't really have to recruit them, nor would we. They kind of come to us."
Asked about the insinuations that BYU illegally recruited Wadsworth during his mission, Mendenhall replied, "Never has happened, nor will it happen."
INJURY UPDATE: Defensive lineman Ian Dulan (sore back) and linebacker Zac Stout (Achilles) will not be ready to play in the season-opener, Mendenhall said.
"We have a long season ahead and he's just not quite ready," Mendenhall said of Dulan. Stout re-injured his Achilles in warmups Monday, the coach added.
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