PROVO — Each spring practice session includes many key developments in preparation for the coming season.
Most of the news is good during any team's practice session, but there are occasional bad news items that creep up. Injuries, fatigue and player role issues regularly pop up during spring camp, and the BYU Cougars have been no exception this year so far.
Fans will only know whether or not most of the ills that plagued BYU football last season are resolved come August, but in the mean time, a number of interesting headlines have emerged from the gridiron in Provo. Most of these headlines bode well for the BYU faithful, while others do not.
Here's a look at the top 10 developments to come from BYU spring football camp that is set to conclude in a little more than a week's time.
Email: email@example.com; Twitter: @BrandonCGurney
This is probably the least surprising development of spring, but it's an extremely important one. BYU is in need of quality quarterback play and Hill has provided indication of exactly that throughout the spring.
Hill has demonstrated Riley Nelson-like charisma throughout the session in interviews and with how he carries himself, but provides much more upside than his predecessor athletically. He's shown strides of great play and fans should expect improved play at the quarterback position as a result.
Yes, it's just one player getting hurt and yes, Trammell had yet to play, let alone complete even a single practice session when he tore his ACL — but his injury is big nonetheless. BYU simply doesn't have a lot of options at the cornerback position and Trammell's season-ending injury dealt a significant blow to the team's ability to effectively replace Preston Hadley at boundary corner.
Trammell had shown enough during offseason workouts to indicate great potential at the position, but that potential will now have to be realized in 2014. Coaches indicate that senior Mike Hague will now likely man the boundary corner spot short of someone else stepping up.
It's the most critical position on most teams and BYU's offensive line play will likely make or break its 2013 season. The team will receive a lot of reinforcements this fall, but the group competing in spring has shown surprisingly well.
New offensive line coach Garett Tujague has expressed satisfaction regarding the overall development of such players as Manaaki Vaitai, Terrance Alletto, Kyle Johnson to name just three. There's a lot of work to be done yet, but the Cougars look well on their way to improving the overall play along the offensive front.
It's not often that coach Bronco Mendenhall points out specific players on offense that are stepping up, but he did just that last week without being prompted by the media. The two receivers he pointed out were Mitch Mathews and Brett Thompson.
Mathews provides a superior 6-foot-6 frame that is surprisingly nimble considering. Mathews has made plays throughout the practice session and looks to make a strong impact this season.
Thompson has been moved to inside receiver and is thriving with his hybrid-like 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame.
Most assumed that the running back responsibilities would be split between Jamaal Williams and Michael Alisa, but Hine's play has thrown a wrench into that assumption. With Alisa still recovering from injury Hine has made the most of his opportunities with the first team offense.
Mendenhall recently expressed his satisfaction of how Hine and Williams have worked together with the first-team offense and is excited regarding the overall potential of the duo.
The defense lost two stellar inside linebackers with the graduation of both Uona Kaveinga and Brandon Ogletree, but both Unga and Pikula have stepped up big-time this spring. Unga looks to replace Kaveinga at the Mike linebacker spot while Pikula is stepping in at the Buck linebacker position.
Both players have seen every rep with the first-team defense and are thriving as a result. Linebacker coach Paul Tidwell is high on both players and believes they have the potential to match, if not surpass the overall play at inside linebacker from last season.
Nose tackle is an extremely important position in a 3-4 defense and the team is working to replace a stellar one in Romney Fuga. The hope is that Tuni Kanuch and Marques Johnson will fill the spot, but coaches maintain that both have a longs ways to go to match the play Fuga provided last season.
If the season started today coaches would move defensive end Eathyn Manumaleuna to nose tackle, but the hope moving forward is to keep him at defensive end.
Munns is the lone senior at quarterback and was thought to finally have a legitimate chance at competing for the starting spot. A freak concussion sustained the first week of practices has kept him out while other quarterbacks continued with their development.
Given his situation, it's unlikely that Munns will be able to make up enough ground to legitimately compete for the position this fall, which is unfortunate.
Holt moved over from tight end and defensive end and has seen a lot of reps with the second-team defense this spring. Holt has a long way to go technique-wise, but has shown enough athleticism to become an option to fill the two-deep roster for the 2013 season.
Justin Sorensen has had a rough go kicking the football due to a string of freak injuries sustained after his LDS mission service. As a result, the starting kicker spot is wide open this season and coaches are doing a lot more work at the position this spring than normal.
Sorensen is splitting duties this spring with Tyler Jackson with both showing well at times. This competition is likely to extend well into the fall practice session.