PROVO There were reports circulating after BYU's 41-17 victory Saturday over Northern Iowa that Max Hall may have suffered a concussion. Not so, say Hall and coach Bronco Mendenhall.
The junior quarterback, who completed 34 of 41 passes for 486 yards and two touchdowns, felt nauseous during a postgame interview the result of absorbing a ferocious hit in the end zone during the third quarter.
Hall was at practice Monday, showing no ill effects of the hit.
"I feel great," Hall said. "It was a football game. I got hit a couple of times, and I was tired. It's part of the game. I got my bell rung, and I needed it. I needed it last year in the first game, and I got it this year. It was more of a violent hit than I got last year. Obviously, I had a little bit of a headache after the game. I got my bell rung. But I woke up the next morning and felt good."
Mendenhall quickly put the issue to rest. "It was not a concussion. It is not a concussion," he said. "It's not even a significant bell-ringer at this point. There's nothing to report there. Max is completely fine."
The only injury from the game was a slight ankle sprain sustained by safety David Tafuna.
After watching film of Saturday's game, Mendenhall said he liked what he saw from his team. "I was encouraged maybe even more than I was on Saturday," he said.
Yet Mendenhall is concerned about his team's four fumbles. He pointed out that three of them occurred because of mistakes by young or less-seasoned players. Junior Wayne Latu, who has had relatively few carries in his career, fumbled in the third quarter, as did redshirt freshman J.J. DiLuigi (on his first and only carry of his young career). And freshman left tackle Matt Reynolds gave up the sack on the play that saw Hall fumble in the end zone, which resulted in a UNI touchdown.
"We were able to narrow in a little more on who needs more work," Mendenhall said. "But overall, I was encouraged. I think we have a good football team."
Mendenhall is also glad that running back Fui Vakapuna will be available this week at Washington. He was held out of Saturday's game because he missed practices to catch up on summer school work so he could become eligible.
"Fui is back and ready to play," Mendenhall said.
PITTA'S CAREER DAY: Saturday, BYU tight end Dennis Pitta caught 11 passes for 213 yards both were career highs for the 6-foot-5, 250-pound junior.
The 213-yard mark equaled the 10th highest single-game performance in Cougar history, tying wide receiver Eric Drage, who had 213 receiving yards against Air Force in 1993. It was the third-best receiving game by a BYU tight end in history, only behind Gordon Hudson's 259-yard performance against Utah in 1981 and David Mills' 225-yard effort against Air Force in 1984.
Mendenhall said opposing defenses have to choose between slowing down either running back Harvey Unga or the tight end.
"With the routes that we have designed, and the player at that position, you can't take away the run game and the receivers, and focus there, at the expense of the tight end and be able to stop it," the coach explained. "It's not possible."
SCOUTING THE HUSKIES: While many people spent Labor Day at a movie theater, Mendenhall watched film of Washington. In fact, he watched nine recent games played by the Huskies.
His thoughts on UW?
"Their quarterback is one of the best athletes in college football," Mendenhall said. "He's big, and he's fast. I've been very impressed with him."
The Huskies were trounced 44-10 at Oregon last Saturday, but Mendenhall indicated it's hard to derive much from an opening game.
"As you watch the game and look at the score, there's always different stories. It was 24-10 for a long time there, then a few plays get away from them at the end," he said. "But most teams from game one to game three, there's a lot of things that can happen in terms of personnel, in terms of corrections, and in terms of the way they play, so I'm not sure you can read too much in any of the first-game experiences for any team. Maybe by the time three games are done, or four, you'll have a lot better idea of what the teams are. Certainly, there's urgency for everybody right now to get better. It's the same for us."
THE KICKER: BYU has two talented placekickers, sophomore Mitch Payne and freshman Justin Sorensen. But the Cougars did not attempt a field goal in the season-opener. Mendenhall said Monday that Payne will attempt kicks from inside the 35-yard line. From 35 to 38 yards is "by gut feel." Anything 40 yards and longer will be handled by Sorensen."Today (in practice) we were attempting field goals from over 60 yards, and Justin has enough distance from there," Mendenhall said.
Here's a rundown of the top 3 single-game receiving performances by a BYU tight end:
Game ... Yards
1. Gordon Hudson vs. Utah, 1981 ... 259
2. David Mills at Air Force, 1984 ... 225