BYU Secondary in Flux

No group has seen more improvement during the season than BYU's defensive backs. Both the safeties and cornerbacks have stepped up their play so much that they are now the top pass defense in the Mountain West Conference. With some of its most important cogs doubtful for the Las Vegas Bowl, the uninjured secondary must adjust.

By the end of BYU's thrilling victory over Utah, the Cougars played with a patchwork secondary that had to make due with just about every cornerback in BYU's two-deep battling through injuries. Ben Criddle sustained tendon damage in his foot, Kayle Buchanan came in and subbed for him only to leave with a broken fibula, and Justin Robinson battled through a strained shoulder that sidelined him for several plays.

All three are still ailing and while Justin Robinson is expected to play and to start Buchanan and Criddle are questionable at best with just 10 days before the Las Vegas bowl. Criddle who starts at boundary corner is hopeful to play although he understands that the odds are against him.

"I'll have an MRI done on Thursday and if the tendon has re-attached then I might play," said Criddle regarding his own injury. "Even if it does it will likely be a gametime decision. If it hasn't attached then I probably will have no chance at playing, which will be very disappointing for me obviously."

Both Criddle and Buchanan were in boots during today's practice trying heal as quickly as possible. Buchanan's fracture of his fibula was a harline fracture that has an outside chance of healing in time for the game much like Criddle's.

Meanwhile, contingency plans have been set in motion. Getting reps with the 1s at the boundary corner position opposite Justin Robinson was safety Cole Miyahira. Fans will recall that Miyahira played cornerback all last season. The senior played second-string safety this season, but he will be a boundary corner if Criddle and Buchanan cannot go on game day.

"I'm back to playing what I played last year," said Miyahira. "It's a little different this time. The coverages are different, but I feel comfortable in them since I know them playing safety in the defense. We all know the coverages."

In the meantime, Miyahira is receiving a crash course in playing boundary corner from Ben Criddle.

"He's helping me a lot," said Miyahira. "He wants to play bad, but if he can't he's doing everything he can to help me as much as possible. We'll see how it goes. If he can go, then great, if not, then I'll be ready to go."

Pitta Back

Running routes with Vic So'oto during today's practice was tight end Dennis Pitta, who is now back from his mission and ready to go this spring to compete for playing time at tight end.


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