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Provo • The BYU Cougars put a scout team together Tuesday and more clearly focused on their opener that is still more than a week away, against the Washington State Cougars.
Actually, BYU focused more on WSU's new coach, Mike Leach, and the "Air Raid" offense Leach ran at Texas Tech, than on WSU's personnel. That will come later.
"It is all Texas Tech [film]," coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "We don't have any fresh Washington State film. I think there's a TV copy of the spring game floating out there somewhere, whatever you can learn from that. [Leach] has had so much success doing things the way he has done [them], with very little change year in and year out. I guess you are kinda [focusing] on that."
Mendenhall, who is also BYU's defensive coordinator, is familiar with the Air Raid from two sources. First, he was New Mexico's defensive coordinator when the Lobos met the Red Raiders in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Tech won the games 24-3, 42-30 and 49-0.
"I have a good understanding of the system and what they do, but that doesn't make it easier to stop," Mendenhall said.
Second, when offensive coordinator Robert Anae joined BYU's staff after coaching under Leach at Texas Tech, he brought many parts of Leach's offense with him.
"Having coach Anae here certainly helped," Mendenhall said. "Again, I don't think it is a matter of teams not knowing what they are going to do. It is just that the concepts are really well-established and thought out, and it is hard to stop."
Said BYU defensive backs coach Nick Howell: "Obviously that whole offense has been installed here once before. ... So we have a good idea what it is about. There are guys on our staff that know it just as well as [WSU does]. So that's good."
BYU announced that weakside linebacker Kevan Bills, a redshirt freshman from Timpview High, had knee surgery on Tuesday morning to repair a torn ACL that he hurt in practice last week. Bills, who was backing up Kyle Van Noy and Ezekiel Ansah, is lost for the season.
Also, defensive back Cameron Comer has withdrawn from school and left the program. Comer, a sophomore from Springville High, was buried on the depth chart and stopped attending practices a week or two ago.
Cornerback Robbie Buckner rejoined the team Tuesday, returning from offseason surgery that caused him to be left off the 105-man roster when camp began.
Howell said Buckner, a senior, is "a guy who is solid and feeling healthy now. He's getting ready to go. He has been in the system for four years, so he has a lot of knowledge."
Standing out early
Mendenhall listed cornerback Micah Hannemann, linebacker Jherremya Leuta-Douyere, running back Jamaal Williams and receiver Dylan Collie as newcomers who will likely bypass the scout team and make the game-day roster, although nothing is set in stone yet.
"If I had to lean, it would be those four," he said, and later added that freshman returned missionary Bronson Kaufusi could also play early.
The coach said Ammon Olsen, a transfer from Southern Utah, will be the scout team quarterback. That probably means that fellow transfer Taysom Hill is the likely third-string quarterback. Asked about the position on the depth chart of another quarterback vying for the third-string spot junior Jason Munns Mendenhall said he is "not certain yet," a sign that Hill will make the traveling squad, which always includes three quarterbacks.
Redshirt freshman Terenn Houk, 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, has been moved from receiver to tight end. ... Senior DL Ian Dulan is still out with a sore back. Mendenhall projects him to start practicing early next week. ... Kicker Justin Sorensen still hasn't kicked in practice due to back pain, and Mendenhall said coaches "will assess how accurate [Sorensen] is, how comfortable he is, and what his range is," before deciding his role in the opener.
P Washington State at BYU, Aug. 30, 8:15 p.m.
• TV: ESPN