BYU football notebook: Riley Nelson's back in QB battle, but this time, with James Lark

Published: Monday, Aug. 8 2011 9:00 p.m. MDT

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PROVO — BYU junior quarterback Riley Nelson could be involved in another quarterback battle.

This time, it's with James Lark.

Last year, Nelson and Jake Heaps competed for the starting job. By the end of fall camp, Cougar coaches named Nelson the starter, but announced plans to play both quarterbacks.

After Nelson suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against Florida State, Heaps took over and now is entrenched as the starter.

At this point, Nelson is Heaps' backup, but there are indications that Lark, the third-stringer, could be gaining ground on Nelson. While Nelson threw an interception to safety Mike Hague during team drills on Monday afternoon, Lark looked sharp, completing 5-of-5 passes for 36 yards and a seven-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Dallin Cutler.

Could Lark supplant Nelson as Heaps' backup?

According to coach Bronco Mendenhall, it's too early to shake up the depth chart at that position.

"Anything's possible," he said. "James is doing a really nice job. He came back in excellent, excellent shape. I've been impressed with him through two days. And he had a good spring. I'm not saying right now there will be any changes, but camp is long, and James has done a nice job for two days.."

Heaps completed 4-of-5 passes for 31 yards on Monday.

DOG DAYS OF AUGUST: Fall camp is a sprint, not a marathon.

So it's not surprising that Day 2 of practices at BYU wasn't nearly as spirited as Day 1, especially considering the Cougars practiced about three hours on Saturday.

"The team was not as excited to practice (Monday) as they were on Saturday," said Mendenhall. "After a long Saturday and it took a little bit to get their attention to start practice. I think at the end we finished with maybe more consistency than we did Saturday, but the energy wasn't as high."

The first part of practice was devoted to special teams again, followed by positional drills and team drills.

"I'm pretty tired and pretty sore, but it's been good," said sophomore safety Daniel Sorensen. "Today was rougher than Saturday, but in a lot of ways, I think we've picked up right where we left off in the spring. It's been a smooth transition. We feel good about the way things are going so far."

BROWN SHINES: Asked about standouts on Day 2, Mendenhall mentioned junior wide receiver Rhen Brown.

"One of the guys who has done a really nice job consistency-wise has been Rhen Brown," he said. "He's worked really hard and has been an infantry program player. It seems like he's emerging and making a push."

BYU ON 3-D: ESPN announced Monday that the BYU-Texas game on Sept. 10 will be televised on ESPN 3D. It will also be broadcast on ESPN2.

EXTRA POINTS: Several players did not participate in practice, most notably linebacker Jordan Pendleton, who was taking care of some school assignments. Mendenhall explained that a few players are still enrolled in summer school and are finishing up projects. ... Sophomore placekicker Justin Sorensen booted a 45-yard field goal Monday. ... Linebacker Ezekial Ansah, defensive lineman Mike Muehlmann and defensive back Skye Povey each had a sack. ... Running back Joshua Quezada was held out of team drills due to a sore ankle.

BYU camp report

DAY 2: The Cougars held a 21/2-hour afternoon session that featured continued emphasis on special teams work and some 11-on-11 situations.

STANDOUTS: Wide receiver Rhen Brown was singled out by coach Bronco Mendenhall for his consistent play. Placekicker Justin Sorensen drilled a 45-yard field goal that had plenty of distance. Third-string quarterback James Lark threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Dallin Cutler. Lark was 5-for-5 for 36 yards on his touchdown drive.

INJURIES: Running back Josh Quezada is still nursing an injured ankle. Tight end Marcus Mathews suffered a muscle strain in his neck. Linebacker Jameson Frazier is out with a lower ab strain.

NEXT UP: BYU will hold its first morning practice of fall camp today.

email: jeffc@desnews.com

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