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Provo • If Saturday's scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium showed anything, it is that BYU football coaches are already preparing for several key players to miss the season opener at Nebraska.
Exactly which players, or how many, will be suspended for their roles in the Miami Beach Bowl brawl or other offseason shenanigans is still unknown to anybody outside the program. But through conversations with players and family members, the best guess here is a half-dozen, maybe seven.
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall reiterated Wednesday that he doesn't plan on divulging names or an exact number in the immediate future.
"Those decisions were made a long time ago, and I don't intend to address it publicly, at least until game week," Mendenhall said.
One certainty is that linebacker Sione Takitaki will sit. The sophomore who Mendenhall said is one of BYU's two best pass rushers has been suspended one game after being charged with two counts of misdemeanor theft in July.
Mendenhall said he had already "addressed it with Sione" about seven-10 days before The Salt Lake Tribune first reported on the theft charges last week.
"So he will miss the Nebraska game pending anything else that might happen before then," Mendenhall said. "We are already practicing without him in terms of a starting lineup or a significant role. … I think [the discipline] helps the team gain confidence in our system, our structure, our accountability and consistency. You have to do what you are supposed to do."
In another move that could have been viewed as suspension-related preparation, an otherwise healthy center, Tejan Koroma, was held out of the scrimmage.
"There was a huge emphasis, if you missed that part, to make sure, 'OK, what happens if Tejan is not in there, and what [does] that look like?" Mendenhall said, adding that going without the highly regarded sophomore provided "a unique test for our offense today."
Footage from the brawl shows Koroma was involved. Asked last March whether he expects to play in the first game, Koroma said: "I don't know if I should say yes or no."
Senior defensive end Remington Peck said BYU's players know who will be suspended due to the brawl "just because we realize who was involved." However, he said there's been no official announcement from the coaches or anything like that.
"We just know because we've talked to the guys in the locker room," Peck said.
Offensive line update
Without Koroma on Saturday, coaches tried several other players at center, including junior Kyle Johnson, who has seemingly been entrenched at left guard. And sophomore Lui Lapuaho, who has mostly been a tackle, saw time at guard.
"It is a cross-training approach, but we are trying to find our best five," Mendenhall said.
Another junior, Brad Wilcox, got extensive playing time and looks to be the eighth offensive lineman coaches have said they are looking to find.
Asked which players have stood out the first week of camp, Mendenhall pointed to freshman receiver Josh Weeks, freshman defensive back Michael Shelton, freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum and Manoa Pikula, the senior linebacker from South Jordan.
He also said that linebacker Harvey Langi is emerging as a vocal leader on defense.
"So, Harvey is an emotional leader," Mendenhall said. "From the offseason, any group that is with him performs at a higher level. He brings energy, he brings physicality and he elevates his teammates. He is still learning the position, still learning the game. But no question he was already chosen as a player who can be a leader on our team."