Provo • Maybe there's a reason the BYU Cougars waited until the fifth day of preseason camp to don shoulder pads when they could have done it the third.
Because Day 5 didn't end so well.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall abruptly ended Tuesday's practice because players were not obeying directions regarding contact it was still a "no-hitting" day and made the players go through a brutal, grueling conditioning gauntlet.
After safety Daniel Sorensen knocked running back Mike Alisa to the ground and Alisa popped up quickly and knocked Sorensen's helmet off, Mendenhall had seen enough. The last leg of the gauntlet required players to jump into ice-cold tubs of water and completely immerse themselves.
While quarterback Riley Nelson called the exercise "fun" and "all part of the experience of fall camp," receiver Ross Apo said it wasn't nearly that enjoyable.
"I think there's a show on TV called 'Two Weeks in Hell,' or something, where the Marines go out and do all these obstacles and hikes, and then they have to jump in a cold river or something. That's how I describe that drill," Apo said.
Asked if the drill was meant to punish the players, Mendenhall said he prefers to call it "a teachable moment."
Starters still out
Senior safety Joe Sampson and junior wide receiver Cody Hoffman were held out of practice for the fourth straight day, still presumably due to a "team discipline issue" that Mendenhall referenced last Friday.
Mendenhall said the starters could be back as early as Wednesday, "but we will go until I feel great about where they are."
Along with Sampson and Hoffman, tight end Marcus Mathews missed Tuesday's practice. He was at Tuesday afternoon's photo day activities, saying he was ill.
Tight end Devin Mahina (broken hand), receiver Dallin Cutler (hamstring), kicker Justin Sorensen (back pain) and linebacker Zac Stout also missed practice.
The Cougars will scrimmage on Thursday (10:20 a.m.) at LaVell Edwards Stadium. It is open to the public, which is asked to sit on the west side only due to stadium upgrade work.
Mendenhall said the scrimmage will be designed so coaches can get good looks at guys vying to be second- and third-stringers, since most of the starting spots are set. He said he will ask every position coach for a two-deep chart at the positions they oversee after the scrimmage.
Tuesday's highlight was a 50-yard throw from Riley Nelson to receiver Brett Thompson. Backup receiver Skyler Ridley also made a big play, turning a short reception into a long touchdown. … Number changes: QB James Lark is now No. 7 (from No. 3), QB Taysom Hill will wear No. 4 (was No. 12) and receiver Jake Kuresa will be No. 6 (was No. 7). … Two high school players who have committed to BYU, Washington quarterback Billy Green and California receiver Michael Davis, attended Tuesday's practice.