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Provo • Football coach Bronco Mendenhall said on Monday night that "there isn't a huge difference" between Taysom Hill and Ammon Olsen, and almost immediately Internet message boards and the like started buzzing about another starting quarterback controversy at BYU.
There isn't one.
Hill is the unquestioned starter, having received that designation when spring camp ended. Several offensive coaches quickly pointed that out after Wednesday's practice.
Still, Olsen, the former Alta High and Southern Utah University quarterback who transferred to BYU after his LDS Church mission, is having a good camp so far.
Two days after directing two touchdown drives during Monday's practice, including a beautiful 40-yard strike to a diving Ross Apo, Olsen was sharp again on Wednesday. In his only 11-on-11 series, Olsen threw a 43-yard pass to Mitch Mathews and concluded the drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Kurt Henderson.
"Ammon is doing a really nice job, like he did in the spring," Mendenhall said. "...So we are treating Ammon just like he could be the starter in one play, because Taysom is going to have to make great decisions on the field, in terms of contact, as well. Otherwise, we know what happens, because we have lived that already. We are working hard to help him make those decisions. But we also have Ammon ready [if Hill gets hurt]."
Olsen suffered a minor knee injury during the spring game, which may or may not be the reason why Mendenhall says the quarterbacks will not go live (get hit) in scrimmages this month, including the one open to the public on Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium (10 a.m.).
They will wear the traditional green jerseys, which means defensive players are not supposed to even touch them.
"That was a great time to do it, in the spring, because if anything happens you still have summer. But too close to actual game time now to be doing that, even though we have a while to be doing that in camp," Mendenhall said. "That position needs to be protected."
The offense dominated the defense during the 13 minutes of 11-on-11 scrimmaging that the media was allowed to watch at the end of practice. Hill directed two touchdown drives, and Olsen the other. The defense came up with just one stop, when Jason Munns was directing the offense.
Hill threw a 45-yard pass to Eric Thornton and a 14-yard touchdown pass to Apo on the first TD drive. He threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Mathews on the fourth possession.
"The execution portion of our offense is starting to catch up, and it showed," Hill said. "We are starting to play hard and play fast, as coach [Robert] Anae has always talked about."
Kicking game coming around
Kickers Justin Sorensen, Trevor Samson and Moose Bingham struggled during the first practice, but have been much better the past three practices, Mendenhall said. They were perfect on their PAT and field-goal attempts on Wednesday.
"More balls are going through the uprights, and more balls are being struck well than I have seen, and that's encouraging. Competition sometimes does that. Justin Sorensen has responded well," Mendenhall said.
Mendenhall said NFL scouts have watched BYU's practices to get a better look at Cody Hoffman and went away asking about senior Skyler Ridley, who runs excellent routes and has sure hands. ... Juco transfer Edward Fusi, an offensive lineman, still has not joined the team because of academic issues. ... The Cougars will practice for the first time this camp in full pads on Thursday.
What we learned • Either the offense is way ahead of the defense, or the latter just had a bad day on Wednesday as Taysom Hill directed two long touchdown drives and Ammon Olsen quarterbacked one TD drive in four 11-on-11 possessions at the end of practice.
Who was hot • Lanky receiver Mitch Mathews, 6-foot-6, continued to emerge, catching a 43-yard pass from Olsen and a 42-yard touchdown pass from Hill.
Who was out • Linebacker Kyle Van Noy did not participate in contact drills again on Wednesday, part of the coaches' plan to ease the All-American into action this preseason camp.