PROVO — As Austin Collie sits out of practices with a stress fracture in his leg, sophomore Luke Ashworth is making his mark during BYU's fall camp.

Quarterback Max Hall connected with Ashworth for a 20-yard touchdown strike Wednesday. Coach Bronco Mendenhall said Ashworth, who returned from a mission during the off-season, is the Cougars' No. 3 receiver behind Collie and Michael Reed.

"The last three days, Luke has made a strong push in terms of confidence and knowledge of assignment," Mendenhall said. "Then, add finishing the plays with it. From what I've seen, after Austin Collie and Michael Reed, right now it's probably Luke Ashworth as of today."

While Hall is pleased by Ashworth's play, he still misses not having Collie to throw to.

"It hurts not having Austin there, but it's good for the young guys to get reps. Austin's our go-to guy," Hall said. "He's our best player. He's the guy that we're going to want to get the ball as much as we can. But it's nice to have those guys in there in case he has to come out for a couple of plays. It's nice to get them reps and for them to know what's going on."

The Cougars are counting on Collie to be ready to go for the season- opener Aug. 30 against Northern Iowa.

The BYU offense was in control Wednesday in "blue zone" situations.

"We already know our effectiveness in stopping blue zone plays and scoring on blue zone plays is a huge part of our success," Mendenhall said. "Right now, our offense is clearly ahead in the blue zone production."

PENDLETON'S STATUS: A day after a heated exchange between safety Jordan Pendleton and defensive coordinator Jaime Hill, Pendleton did not practice with the team Wednesday morning.

Pendleton was excused because he was throwing up and battling a case of diarrhea. On Tuesday, after a spirited practice, Hill yelled at Pendleton and told him not to do media interviews. Pendleton reportedly called Hill a disparaging name.

Mendenhall met with Hill and Pendleton and decided not to take any disciplinary action.

"I think the issue has been resolved the very best way possible," Mendenhall said. "We're anxious to get Jordan back healthy so we can move forward. I think anytime a situation happens where someone's feelings are hurt or the program in some way or another, one of its representatives doesn't act in a way that's in the best interest of the institution, that's a program failure and that comes to me. My job is to continue to educate and try to predict as many of those as possible. In this particular case, I didn't handle it effectively enough. Hopefully now we can learn from it and continue forward."

Said Hill: "The policy here is that the coaches and players have the opportunity to talk to the press. That's the policy of the head coach, so that will always be the case. Secondly, I never talk about individuals. I never talked about them the last two years and I won't talk about them now. Other than that, there's really nothing else to say. Everything will be handled in-house."

BYU SCHEDULES NEVADA: BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe announced Wednesday that the Cougars will host Nevada on Sept. 25, 2010, to complete a three-game series between the two schools.

The series began in 2001 when BYU downed the Wolfpack, and Nevada beat the Cougars in 2002 at Reno. The third installment has been rescheduled several times at the request of both schools.

"I am pleased we were able to work out the details of completing the third and final game of the original series," Holmoe said in a statement. "Both teams have enjoyed recent success, and the game should be a good one in the eyes of both schools and the fans."

In 2010, BYU is also scheduled to play against Washington in Provo, while visiting Florida State and Utah State.


E-mail: jeffc@desnews.com