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BYU football: Cougars' Spencer Hadley returns to practice

Published: Saturday, Oct. 12 2013 1:25 a.m. MDT

PROVO — BYU announced Friday afternoon that senior linebacker Spencer Hadley, who was suspended for five games for violating the school's honor code and breaking team rules, has been cleared by the university to participate with the team.

Coach Bronco Mendenhall will determine Hadley's status for Saturday's game against Georgia Tech.

Hadley has missed the past three games since being suspended on Sept. 17, just days before the Cougars' loss to Utah.

BRONCO AND THE TRIPLE OPTION: Since his first experience with defending Air Force, when he was at New Mexico, Mendenhall has been passionate about stopping the triple option.

Last year, for example, the Cougars limited Georgia Tech to only 157 yards of total offense, 0-for-10 on third down attempts, and a field goal in a 41-17 victory in Atlanta.

“I don’t know if it’s a specialty. Most of the things I’ve learned in this profession have come from really humble beginnings,” Mendenhall said this week. “In my first year at New Mexico, I think we got beat 56-3 (it was actually 56-14) or something by Air Force. I had no idea what was going on with the option. It became kind of a project. I like the challenge. It will be hard to do again. Last year, they didn’t convert a third down, so we played only 48 plays. That hardly ever happens when you’re playing option defense. We expect certainly a different style of game. It’s a similar offense, but it will be hard to duplicate what we did a year ago.”

Cougar linebacker Uani Unga said he an his teammates are confident in their ability to shut down the triple option.

“We’ve got to get into the film room,” he said. “The coaches have a great game plan. This year, we’re a step ahead because we played it last year. This week, (Mendenhall) really emphasizes gap assignments and making sure that we’re all assignment sound.”

DANDY DANIEL: BYU cornerback Robertson Daniel, a junior college transfer, has been a pleasant surprise for the Cougar defense. He tallied 10 tackles last week against Utah State.

“He’s a great tackler. We knew he’d be strong in coverage, but I didn’t know we’d be getting a tackler that we’re getting,” Mendenhall said. “I’ve been really impressed. You’re talking about a guy that I didn’t know would be playing field corner, then playing every snap. He’s really helped us.”

“When he first came in, I knew he would be something special,” Unga said. “He shined as an athletic player.”

ANOTHER ACC FOE: The Cougars fell in their season-opener at Virginia. Saturday, BYU faces another Atlantic Coast Conference opponent in Georgia Tech.

“They’re linebackers are big. I’d compare them to Virginia as far as their physicality,” said Cougar quarterback Taysom Hill. “They’re a good team. They run around and make plays. It’s probably a team that plays zone more than anybody else we’ve seen. Whether we’ll see that or not, we don’t know. That’s what we’re anticipating.”

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