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San Diego • Senior right-hander James Lark — not to be confused with senior left-hander Riley Nelson — said on Monday after the BYU Cougars practiced that he couldn't comment when he was asked if he knows which quarterback will start in Thursday's Poinsettia Bowl against San Diego State.

"Do I know?" Lark asked rhetorically. "No comment. I can't really comment on that."

That was just after Nelson uncharacteristically begged off an interview request and after BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said that Lark continues to get more repetitions in practices than Nelson because Nelson — who started all but two of the 7-5 Cougars' regular-season games — is still not fully recovered from a rib cartilage injury he suffered against San Jose State on Nov. 17.

The only worst-kept secret in San Diego these days is what they feed Shamu over at SeaWorld, where the Cougars were headed after practice. Lark has been told he will start against the 9-3 Aztecs (6 p.m. MST, ESPN), two sources close to the program told The Salt Lake Tribune.

Mendenhall has said he won't officially name a starter until the day of the game, but he acknowledged Monday that "there is a good chance you could see both" quarterbacks in the game.

"The good news is we have three more days ... and they are both getting work," Mendenhall said. "... I am not sure how it is going to play out. Nor could I predict the next three days, but the reps are similar to what they were back home."

When pressed about how a possible quarterback rotation could go, Mendenhall said "it is really more of a feel" kind of thing and that there is no set plan.

Tushaus to start at center

Senior center Braden Hansen is still recovering from a groin tear and will not play Thursday, Mendenhall said. Sophomore Blair Tushaus will get the start at center.

Lark said Tushaus is more than capable of filling the role.

"The exchanges have been great," Lark said. "Blair has been doing snaps his whole life, and so I am not worried about it. We haven't had any bad snaps out here at practice."

No contact yet

This is the time of year when college football coaches switch jobs and lose assistants to other programs, but Mendenhall said Monday that he hasn't been contacted by any schools to date about the prospects of interviewing any of his assistants. He always asks his assistants to let him know first if they are interviewing anywhere.

"And I am very helpful in expressing what their future would be like here, and then what opportunities they might have and if they want to proceed I will help them. But I haven't been contacted about any of my assistants," he said.

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