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Provo • BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall named his two team captains for the 2015 football season and identified two former walk-ons who will be placed on scholarship during his news briefing Monday as the Cougars continued preparations for the season-opener at Nebraska.
To no one's surprise, quarterback Taysom Hill and defensive end Bronson Kaufusi are the captains and receiver Mitchell Juergens and Nate Carter are the scholarship recipients.
The most noteworthy development, however, was the announcement of a non-announcement, as it were.
Before he was even asked about it, Mendenhall said he doesn't plan on announcing which players will be suspended for their roles in the brawl after the Miami Beach Bowl or for offseason rules violations until after Saturday's game (1:30 p.m. MDT, ABC). The only announced discipline so far is that sophomore linebacker Sione Takitaki will miss the game after he was charged with two counts of misdemeanor theft in July.
Takitaki, who Mendenhall has called one of the two best pass-rushers on the team, is not listed on BYU's projected depth chart released Monday. Several players who were most noticeably involved in the brawl safety Kai Nacua and center Tejan Koroma, for instance are listed as starters.
When asked Monday how close the depth chart is to the players BYU will put on the field on Saturday, Mendenhall said, "I really don't spend much time looking at it," then looked at it briefly and added: "Defensively, that is right … It is really close. Almost exactly. Almost."
Later, he said awarding scholarships and handing out discipline are the best and worst parts of his job.
"The suspensions, or the issues, happened so long ago, and quite frankly if it were up to me, completely, I am not sure you can punish the kids more than they have already been punished, in terms of the scrutiny," Mendenhall said. "What are we going to do to them now that is going to make more of a point? And so I am not the only one who makes the decisions in this case. But as far as I am concerned, with the attention, and what the players get, and rightly so at BYU, I don't know what else needs to happen for them to have learned their lesson. It is hard for me to watch, but we will move forward whenever this game is over."
Coincidentally, Memphis coach Justin Fuente announced Monday that six players will miss all or parts of the Tigers' first two games against Missouri State and Kansas. Linebacker Leonard Pegues will be suspended 11/2 games and defensive end Isadore Outing one game for their roles in the fight. Four other players will be suspended a half-game each. Outing is the player who opened a gash under Nacua's eye with a blow that temporarily dropped the Cougar safety.
Upon getting up, Nacua threw sucker punches at the backs of Memphis' players heads before being restrained. Chase Johnson, the Memphis player who used his helmet as a weapon swinging it violently at BYU players is no longer with the team.
Nebraska coach Mike Riley has said five Cornhuskers will be suspended against BYU, but on Monday in his press briefing he said he won't disclose the names until later in the week.
BYU receiver Mitch Mathews said the team hasn't been distracted by the shadow of suspensions hanging over its head. He said there have been no announcements in team meetings or emailed messages letting players know which of their teammates will be suspended. It happened so long ago, he said, that he can't remember who was involved.
"It is just one of those things that got brought back up, but what happened happened, and we are better off now than we were, and we are a lot better team," Mathews said. "So it is one of those things where we just get past this game and never think about it again."
Kaufusi, one of the captains, said the issue hasn't been brought up in months.
"I think Bronco has done a really great job with helping us see that we can only control what we can control," he said. "Every day we wake up and we go to practice and we have to get better. Whoever is there, practicing, has to get better. I don't think it has been a distraction because we are here to get better and be prepared for the next opponent."
Mendenhall said there are only two captains this year because Hill and Kaufusi were near-unanimous selections in the voting and no other players got a significant amount of votes to be considered. He said the special teams player of the week will be the special teams captain for the following week's game.
Recent BYU developments
• Quarterback Taysom Hill and defensive end Bronson Kaufusi, both seniors, will be the team captains this season after a team-wide vote.
• Bronco Mendenhall says he won't announce which players are suspended for Saturday's opener against Nebraska before the game.