PROVO — At roughly the halfway mark of fall camp, BYU head football coach Bronco Mendenhall is pleased with the overall progress of his team.
"I like where we are. I'm confident and optimistic. I believe it's warranted by how I've seen us play," he said. "As installations on either side kind of jump ahead or go behind, you'll see another group for a couple of days try to catch up to it. That will kind of morph back and forth until Wednesday of next week, which is good. Then we'll be ready for scout teams and getting ready for Ole Miss (on Sept. 3). So I'm comfortable where we are."
Tuesday's practice, which was witnessed by 1,069 fans, was "a little sloppy, a little inconsistent," Mendenhall said. "I would say average at best."
The practice session featured a few minor skirmishes, and Mendenhall cut the team session short due to "inconsistency, with tempers overriding execution."
Marcus Mathews made a leaping grab of a James Lark pass for a 37-yard touchdown, and Joshua Quezada scored a TD on a 12-yard run.
Placekicker Justin Sorensen made three field goals Tuesday, including a 57-yarder.
The Cougars have emphasized special teams during fall camp, but Mendenhall said it's too early to determine if it has paid off.
"Haven't had enough live work to say where we are. I love the individual work and the drill work and the personnel we've selected. The scheme execution, we'll have to wait a little bit to find that out. Mostly personnel and technique. By the end of next week we hope to have that really solid."
OPEN PRACTICES: Tuesday marked the fourth, and final, practice session open to the public.
In the future, Mendenhall said he plans to cut down the number of open practices in order to minimize giving away too much tactical information about his team.
"It's a tough balance. In the future, we'll probably have our first scrimmage, which was in the stadium on Saturday, be the open practice, in combination with the Cougar Kickoff," the coach said. "So it will all be kind of a singular event to debut the season and the team. The rest will probably be closed for anybody other than media. It just makes more sense.
"I have no idea who's here. So how much do you show? How much don't you show? To say that certain teams aren't above sending somebody — we won't, but I'm sure others would. It's risky."
SUPPORT FOR PRITCHARD: Several players and coaches have visited fullback Iona Pritchard since he suffered a broken leg and dislocated ankle during last Saturday's scrimmage. Pritchard has undergone season-ending surgery.
"The team loves Iona. The running backs went (to visit Pritchard). A lot of the coaches went independently," Mendenhall said. "It wasn't a coordinated effort. We were just trying to show support. He's an inspirational guy and a great leader for our team."22 comments on this story
Mendenhall said in Pritchard's absence, Zed Mendenhall is the starting fullback.
"We'll find another one at some point, maybe into next week," the coach said. "There are a lot of guys being considered right now."
NEW ADDITIONS: Because of the season-ending injury to Pritchard, and running back Malosi Teo's decision to return home, the Cougars had two spots to fill on its 105-man roster.
BYU has added freshman running back Nate Carter, from Dixie High, and freshman tight end Trevor Brown, a Timpview High product.