PROVO — An already thin BYU offensive line just got a bit thinner. Starting center Braden Hansen will miss the next two to four weeks with a left adductor strain suffered during the game against Notre Dame. Hansen's loss comes on top of season-ending injuries to Famika Anae and Houston Reynolds among four others.
"We felt really good about the depth going into the fall," said coach Bronco Mendenhall about the offensive line. "We've lost six players since then at the position, but you keep on going. It doesn't do us any good to dwell on it or agonize over it. We have a lot of games to play — we plug in the next player and keep going."
Former starting center Blair Tushaus will replace Hansen at center. Freshman Tui Crichton has been moved from defensive line to offensive line to help out with the depth.
No other depth chart changes are anticipated, but Alex Kuresa has switched over from receiver to quarterback to aid in simulating Georgia Tech's quarterback. The Yellowjackets present a triple-option offense that Mendenhall believes will pose a huge challenge.
"It's about 500 yards per game and 37 points, so yeah, they're very good," said Mendenhall. "They run it very well, they do some unique things with the option and they throw it better than what you would think, so yeah, they'll be quite a challenge."
TWENTY-FIVE OR BUST: Joe Sampson is a recent addition as a kick returner but was unable to bring the ball out of the end zone past even the 20-yard line a couple of times against Notre Dame.
"The instructions were pretty clear — don't return it unless you can get past the 25," said Mendenhall about Sampson's directive in returning kicks. Sampson and his returns will warrant "greater scrutiny" moving forward, according to Mendenhall.
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE: BYU has not met the expectations of a lot of fans through eight games this season, but Mendenhall is preaching patience for the stretch run and beyond to any doubters.
"Our program intends on grinding out, and it's been four really close games and tough losses, but I think we're gaining momentum and progress and Riley (Nelson) is leading us while we do it," said Mendenhall. "It may not be the prolific breakthrough that people want, but I still see us inching close to breaking through into what (fans want us to be.)"
JUNIOR COLLEGE CORNERBACK COMMITS: BYU received the commitment of Trent Trammell from San Francisco Community College. Trammell is a 5-11, 185 cornerback who had offers from Utah and UTEP and interest from schools such as Kansas State.
Trammell first visited BYU this past summer and came away with a very good impression.
"BYU is different, but it's a good different," said Trammell, who is not LDS. "I love the people and I love the outdoors, so I think it's a good fit for me. I'm comfortable with the honor code, and I love the coaches."
Trammell grew up with good impressions of LDS people and therefore feels comfortable attending a school that is overwhelmingly LDS.
"For 13 years, my next-door neighbors were Mormon, so I got to know them well and we were very close to all of them," said Trammell, who grew up in Hayward, Calif. "It was almost like a second home for me growing up, so yeah, I definitely feel comfortable around Mormons, and I have a lot of respect for their beliefs. I hold the same values, so it's a plus that BYU is a Mormon school."
Trammell was also coached by Joe Sampson's father in high school and has become close to BYU's starting free safety during the recruiting process. Trammell plans on graduating early and enrolling at BYU this January, where he'll have two years of eligibility and a redshirt option.