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BYU football: Team's focus is on preparing for season

Published: Thursday, Aug. 19 2010 12:02 a.m. MDT

BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall calls out instructions as the team runs from one drill to another during day 10 of fall football camp. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News) BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall calls out instructions as the team runs from one drill to another during day 10 of fall football camp. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News)

PROVO — BYU held its second scrimmage of fall camp Wednesday morning. But that wasn't why an army of reporters showed up on campus.

Many of them were there to ask coach Bronco Mendenhall about reports that the Cougars are going independent in football in 2011.

"I am not in the loop regarding anything," Mendenhall replied.

The Cougars' coach said reporters should be talking to athletic director Tom Holmoe and associate athletic director Duff Tittle.

"That's where I would go (for information)," Mendenhall said. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

When asked about his comments during the Mountain West Conference media days in July — that BYU is a unique institution that can stand alone or remain in the MWC — Mendenhall said he's only concerned about preparing his football team for the 2010 season.

BYU running back Mike Hague reaches out and makes a one-handed catch during BYU's fall football camp. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News) BYU running back Mike Hague reaches out and makes a one-handed catch during BYU's fall football camp. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News)

"I have so much going on with who plays quarterback, who plays tight end, who plays inside linebacker. ... If you think I have spent one minute thinking about this since I was asked at media days, I haven't," the Cougars' coach said. "I hate to disappoint everybody today."

Mendenhall said it's not that he doesn't care about conference realignment issues, but that he doesn't follow the reports or speculation.

"I don't get on the Internet, period," Mendenhall said. "I haven't for five years since I became the head coach because I really don't value what it has to say. ... Other things take precedence."

Is independence talk a distraction for his team?

"I didn't know. I don't know if they know," Mendenhall said. "As far as they're concerned, you might say we're living in a bubble. That's by design. We're trying to get better as a team."

BYU quarterbacks, from left to right in green jerseys, Jason Munns, Jake Heaps, Riley Nelson and James Lark prepare to throw passes to receivers during drills at BYU's fall football camp. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News) BYU quarterbacks, from left to right in green jerseys, Jason Munns, Jake Heaps, Riley Nelson and James Lark prepare to throw passes to receivers during drills at BYU's fall football camp. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News)

BYU quarterback Riley Nelson said Wednesday was the first time he had heard anything about BYU going independent — and that was from reporters asking questions about it. He said decisions about the conference membership are in the hands of BYU's administrators.

Asked if independence talk is a distraction, Nelson said, "I don't think it's a distraction. I don't know if the rest of the guys know about it. We're more concerned with (the season-opener against) Washington."

RUN GAME A FOCUS: As for the scrimmage, Nelson completed 10-of-14 passes for 90 yards while Jake Heaps was 6-of-10 for 45 yards and a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Richard Wilson.

BYU's running backs saw plenty of action. J.J. DiLuigi rushed two times for 45 yards, including a 41-yard gallop. Mike Hague rushed eight times for 23 yards and Ryan Folsom had nine carries for 37 yards. Joshua Quezada gained 12 yards on three carries.

BYU junior quarterback Riley Nelson, center, looks to throw the ball during day 10 of fall football camp. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News) BYU junior quarterback Riley Nelson, center, looks to throw the ball during day 10 of fall football camp. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News)

"I'm not sure I was impressed overall," Mendenhall said of the scrimmage. "We got a chance to see a lot of the younger guys. We'll see how our run defense was. We'll see how the running backs played. There wasn't much downfield throwing. It's a chance to keep evaluating players and see if anyone's emerged."

The Cougars plan to scrimmage again Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

OUT OF ACTION: Several BYU players did not participate in the scrimmage. Wide receiver O'Neill Chambers was not at practice for disciplinary reasons. Tight end Mike Muehlmann (shoulder separation), wide receiver Ross Apo (tight hamstring), and wide receiver McKay Jacobson (illness) were also out.

Cougar camp report

BYU's offense runs plays during fall football camp. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News) BYU's offense runs plays during fall football camp. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News)

Day 10: BYU held a morning scrimmage and a closed practice in the afternoon.

Standouts: In the scrimmage, quarterback Riley Nelson completed 10-of-14 passes for 90 yards. Jake Heaps completed 6-of-10 passes for 45 yards and a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Richard Wilson. J.J. DiLuigi recorded a 41-yard run.

Injuries: Tight end Mike Muehlmann (shoulder separation), wide receiver McKay Jacobson (illness), wide receiver Ross Apo (tight hamstring) all missed the scrimmage, as did wide receiver O'Neill Chambers, for disciplinary reasons.

Next up: BYU will hold one practice this morning (10:15 a.m.) that is open to the public.

e-mail: jcall@desnews.com

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