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BYU football: Cougars could be close to naming starting quarterback

Published: Friday, April 5 2013 8:10 p.m. MDT

PROVO — Now that BYU has wrapped up spring practices — the Cougars held a final scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium Friday on Alumni Day — coach Bronco Mendenhall said that he could be close to choosing a starting quarterback.

Sophomore Taysom Hill has appeared to be the front-runner for the job since the beginning of spring ball in early March.

When asked Friday about naming a starting QB, Mendenhall said, "I'll have to think about it. I'll meet with the offensive staff first, probably through Monday and maybe even Tuesday, then we'll make a decision."

Hill said it's important that the coaching staff announce a starter soon, as the team heads into summer workouts.

"I do think so, just because spring and summer is going to be really big," Hill said. "We need those things to be organized. We need to know who we're going to be playing with. That will give us momentum heading into fall camp."

Does Hill think he's proved enough to earn the starting job?

"That's a tough question," he said. "If you ask me, I would say so. But, we're kind of at the coaches' mercy there."

Sophomore QB Ammon Olsen, who has been vying for the starting job along with Hill, suffered a PCL in his knee and a bone contusion during last Saturday's scrimmage. The injury won't require surgery, and Olsen is expected to recover in four weeks.

"I like what I see from our quarterbacks — not only Taysom and Ammon, but (freshman) Tanner Mangum," Mendenhall said. "(Mangum's) going on a mission, but he's going to be a good player for us."

With nearly 1,000 people in attendance at Edwards Stadium, including a bevy of former players who returned to campus for Alumni Day, BYU scrimmaged for the last time until August.

"It was fun to have a sunny day and let the kids play in the stadium one more time," said Mendenhall.

The former players and their families toured the facilities, participated in a Q-and-A session with Mendenhall and offensive coordinator Robert Anae, watched the scrimmage, then enjoyed a dinner afterward.

BYU ran almost 70 plays during Friday's scrimmage. Several projected starters were held out of action in order to allow younger players to gain experience.

The running backs turned in a solid performance. Adam Hine had 10 carries for 143 yards and two touchdowns, including a 70-yard run, while Paul Lasike ran six times for 35 yards and a touchdown and caught six passes for 41 yards.

"I was impressed with Adam Hine and Paul Lasike today," said Mendenhall. "I thought they both ran physical, which did a nice job of creating some play-action opportunities."

Mangum completed 13 of 20 for 131 yards and one interception, while Christian Stewart was 6 of 10 for 114 yards and a touchdown.

"I thought Tanner Mangum did a really nice job as a freshman," Mendenhall said. "We threw and caught the ball pretty well, which was opened up by the running game."

"I think we came out flat today," linebacker Kyle Van Noy said of the defense. "There were a lot of different scenarios. … It was good for our team to have those stresses and go against the tempo like the offense brings every day."

Said Van Noy of the offense: "They established the running game early. Then they worked the passing game with the play action, then they went back to the running game. It was good to see the offense move the ball, but it still stinks that the defense had to be out there."

Overall, Mendenhall was pleased with what his team accomplished during the spring.

"We got a ton done. I think we've established a unified mindset and work ethic," Mendenhall said. "I think we've got an offense installed. I think we have the tempo built in. I think they have a good idea of what conditioning will look like to be ready to play at this pace. I think we've got a good idea of what players can make plays and where they'll be situated depth-wise going (into the season). And we didn't get many players hurt. I thought it was productive."

The coach liked the way his players adapted to the new offense.

"I think the offense made continual progress throughout the spring," Mendenhall said. "I still think they're gaining significant momentum, which is what I saw today. I was pleased with the offense especially."

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