Spring Practice Day Seven

The mystery of the disappearing linemen continues for Bronco Mendenhall and his BYU football team. With dangerously little depth across the line on both sides of ball, Coach Mendenhall has been forced to adjust his entire spring practice schedule.

The big news out of BYU today was Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall's announcement that defensive tackle Russell Tialavea is suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. After practice this evening, Mendenhall put a positive spin on it saying that it was part of being a coach at BYU and that he expects Tialavea to rejoin the team.

"I feel very strongly about the rules here in this program," said Coach Mendenhall. "I think these rules are for the growth and betterment of our young men and I expect every player to abide by them. I don't know when Russell will return. As I'm learning more about the situation there will be certain criteria for his return that he'll have to meet. I do want Russell to come back, I think he belongs in this program."

Mendenhall went on to mention that he expects Tialavea to return as early as this fall. The redshirt freshman's absence puts further strain on a position that is already short on bodies.

"We were already thin, so it effects us quite a bit," said Mendenhall, "Practice this spring as already been modified somewhat between offensive line and defensive line depth, so we'll just have to modify it some more."

BYU will have to make due with fewer people in the defensive tackle rotation for the rest of spring. Coach Mendehall simply has no one else to throw into the fray.

"There aren't enough players," said Mendenhall about shuffling personnel to add another defensive tackle. "Dan Alleto, who is a walk-on, now has a great opportunity to get a lot of coaching this spring and we'll see if he makes the most of it."

Yet another Denney

For nearly a decade, the number 92 has seemingly been reserved for whatever Denney passes through the program. This season Brett Denney donned the family jersey and picked up where his brothers Ryan and John left off. Only two months removed from his LDS mission, Denney is improving steadily every day.

"It's been a challenge, but I'm getting more and more comfortable every day," said Denney. "It feels good, it's a good reminder every day of what it takes to play football."

With two former Cougars and current NFL players for brothers and a proactive father, Denney had a wealth of advice as he prepared for the rigors of playing college football. "My father had me in the weight room the day after I got home [from my mission] at six o' clock in the morning and I've continued doing that every day," said Denney.

In regards to help from his brothers, most of the counsel came from Ryan who was in town last week to watch his brother's progress. Ryan is enjoying the off-season himself as a defensive end for the Buffalo Bills.

"I've been able to work out with Ryan and get his input which has helped a lot," said Brett. "He doesn't really tell me when I do things right, but he sure gives me pointers on things I do wrong. It all helps me a lot. He wants the best for me and I'm thankful to have him help me out."

So what have been the biggest adjustments Denney has had to make so far?

"Just technique," Denney indicated, "there is a lot more technique involved in college than in high school. Improving my technique is my biggest focus right now and what I need to improve on the most. You have to do the little things more in college, you could get away with not doing them in high school, but not here."

Denney is getting his share of reps due to the lack of defensive linemen. He has been exclusively with the second team so far. The work has been invaluable to Denney

"It's great," said Denney, "I need work, and I need work against guys that outweigh me by almost 100 pounds which is what I'm getting so far. I feel I'm improving every day and hopefully I can help the team out this coming year."

Practice Notes

- Running back Curtis Brown saw extensive reps today as Fui Vakapuna sat today's practice out prepping for tomorrow's scrimmage. Brown looked fresh and ready to go as he had runs of 22, 9 and 7 yards.

- Defensive standouts today included Chris Bolden and Ben Criddle, who picked off passes, and Kyle Luekenga who held Brown to no yards on a running play. Denney tackled Ray Hudson in the backfield for a two yard loss, and Terrance Hooks jumped a wide-receiver screen for no yards on a tackle.

- John Beck had several nice completions including a 50 yard pass to Jonny Harline, a 20 yard pass again to Harline and a touchdown pass to Zac Collie


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