Spring practice report: day 14

In winter-like weather, the team wrapped up its last spring practice session on Thursday before Saturday's spring game. Following practice, head coach Bronco Mendenhall talked optimistically about his team, and also addressed Taysom Hill and his decision to join the team following his mission.

When asked if this has been the most injury-free spring he's had, Coach Mendenhall said, "It certainly was, and the format had a lot to do with it. We've been going without pads more frequently, but when we hit, the collisions were more violent, but I think we've got the best of both worlds. We got through healthy as a team, and I've liked the format."

In regards to players who have really helped themselves this spring, Mike Hague was the first player Mendenhall mentioned. Hague is competing for the starting free safety spot and has made a lot of progress and a lot of plays.

Other players mentioned were Spencer and Preston Hadley, Spencer Hafoka, Ross Apo, Austin Holt and Marcus Mathews.

"Holt has done a nice job in establishing more of a physical role, Marcus Mathews in a more of a downfield role," Mendenhall said. "They've both kind of emerged in separate areas."

Chambers to return in January

Suspended receiver O'Neill Chambers has been seen around practices a lot recently, and Mendenhall confirmed that he should be on the team this coming January.

"He won't have any interaction with the team, and the first time we'll consider him based on the criteria we've given him is this January," he explained.

Chambers has done well meeting his requirements and hasn't missed a single thing yet according to Mendenhall. "He had a chance to be released, and was released and had a chance to go anywhere he wanted to go, and he won't go; he wants to be here," said Mendenhall. "It's quite a statement."

Chambers is likely to switch to the defensive backfield when and if he returns, according to Mendenhall.

"I'd like to coach him personally," he said. "That's my thought at this point. It doesn't mean that I'm going to commit and if you write it down, I'll probably change it, but right now, he's going to the secondary and maybe at free safety."

Excitement about Hill

BYU announced earlier on Thursday that they'll be receiving the services of quarterback Taysom Hill. Mendenhall explained how the process of him joining BYU came about.

"I believe the mission president called," Mendenhall said about the process of first learning about Hill's interest. "He said that [Hill] was considering BYU, so we said, ‘Okay.' We then went and checked with the parents to get their permission and to see if the mission president was really calling for that reason, etc. That's really as far as I'm willing to go. Coach Doman can fill you in on the rest of it, because I was at the very end of it."

Regarding what he remembers about Hill, Mendenhall said, "He's a great athlete, a great leader. He's very, very productive, super smart in terms of a student and we really wanted him. We'd gotten in late in the recruiting process, and by then we really hadn't done a nice job of finding and then building a relationship, and so it was a too-little-too-late thing on why he went to Stanford."

Spring Game Format

The team will divide into a blue team and white team, with Coach Reynolds coaching one team and Coach Tidwell coaching the other. One team will comprise of the ones on offense and the twos on defense with the other team having the twos on offense and the ones on defense.

There will be four 12-minute running quarters with clock stoppage under the two-minute mark in both the second and fourth quarters. The plan is to run between 65-70 reps, although it could be below or above that number according to how the game goes.

Practice Notes

-Heaps finished the practice session going 6-of-10 for 96 yards, including a long 43-yard pass to Ross Apo on third-and-long. He also hit Drew Phillips out of the backfield on a critical third-and-8 play.

-Riley Nelson went 2-of-3 for 9 yards, with James Lark going 0-of-2 with an interception at the hands of linebacker Seth Probert.

Ezekial the ‘Ansah' at OLB?

Ezekial Ansah might have had his best performance of the spring in picking off a pass during early team drills and recording a tackle for a loss and a sack.

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