Brigham Young’s season opener at Virginia is months away, but football will be back at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday.
The Cougars will have their only public scrimmage of spring practice in a Blue vs. White game. Typically, coach Bronco Mendenhall has preferred a controlled scrimmage as opposed to a game format, but not this year.
“We are healthier than we have been in most springs,” Mendenhall said. “We have more numbers, and we want to see more of what our younger guys can do in live situations.”
Sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill will direct BYU’s new offensive scheme in his first action since suffering a season-ending knee injury Oct. 5 against Utah State. Redshirt junior Ammon Olsen, who appears to be winning the backup job, also will play.
Mendenhall fired his entire offensive staff after an 8-5 season, including a 3-4 record on the road. He rehired former offensive coordinator Robert Anae, whose focus this spring has been on installing his no-huddle offense.
“We want to see what the scheme looks like without coaching,” Mendenhall said. “We want to see players finish plays and also see who is tackling well on defense.”
■ TAG TEAM — Kyle Van Noy gets a lot of notoriety on BYU’s defense, and that’s fine with teammate Spencer Hadley. The two senior outside linebackers represent the heart and soul of the Cougars’ defense.
“Any time you are surrounded by good players, it makes you better,” Hadley said. “I enjoy having Kyle on the field because he attracts a lot of attention, and that gives a lot of us opportunities to make plays.”
Van Noy benefits from Hadley, too. In a 23-6 victory over San Diego State on Dec. 20 in the Poinsettia Bowl, Van Noy returned an interception for a touchdown. But Hadley’s blitz on the play pressured Aztecs quarterback Adam Dingwell to throw the pass that Van Noy intercepted.
The linebackers combined for 108 tackles, 29 for loss, 16½ sacks, 10 quarterback hurries and seven forced fumbles last season. Hadley is sitting out spring practice after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder to repair a torn labrum muscle, the same surgery Van Noy had after the 2011 season.
“I’ve been in the weight room, working on my lower-body strength,” Hadley said. “I will start running next week and start some upper-body lifting. I’ll be 100 percent in the next month-and-a-half and have all summer to get ready.”
With inside linebackers Brandon Ogletree and Uona Kaveinga gone, more will be asked of Hadley and Van Noy while Uani Unga and Manoa Pikula adjust to starting roles.
“I want to be the guy that doesn’t stop, the guy that never quits,” Hadley said. “I want to give each play all that I have.”
■ FINAL FOUR — The BYU men’s basketball team will play Baylor on Tuesday in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York. The game will be televised at 4 p.m. on ESPN2 (Cox 31).
The winner will face the Iowa-Maryland winner in the championship game on Thursday. BYU won the NIT in 1951 and 1966.
BYU began the season in New York, where it lost to Florida State 88-70 on Nov. 16 and to then-No. 20 Notre Dame 78-68 on Nov. 17 in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The Cougars (24-11) will be looking to avenge a 79-64 loss to the Bears (21-14) on Dec. 21 in Waco, Texas.
■ SCORING RECORD — Guard Tyler Haws, averaging 28.6 points in three NIT games, has scored 755 points this season, the most ever for a BYU sophomore.
He also has passed Danny Ainge for most points scored at BYU during a freshman and sophomore season with 1,152. Ainge scored 1,130.
Haws is 1,447 points shy of Jimmer Fredette’s career scoring record of 2,599 points. Fredette scored 780 in his first two seasons.
Dave McCann is a news anchor for KSL television in Salt Lake City and the play-by-play voice for BYU sports on BYUtv. He also is the host of True Blue, which airs at 5:30 p.m. Mondays on BYUtv. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @DaveMcCannKSL.