Spring practice to begin, football team looks to answer questions

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    By RUSS RIGGS

    Going into spring practice this Friday, March 3, BYU’s football team has many questions to answer.

    How will the new coaches pan out? Who will replace Kevin Feterik? Will the offensive line come together? And how will the Cougars replace Rob Morris and Brian Gray on defense?

    Well, at least BYU will be able to ease into its schedule this fall to help the young players along.

    Wrong.

    In addition to filling some major gaps, the Cougars will have to mature quickly as they face what could be their toughest competition ever.

    BYU opens up against defending national champion Florida State, then travels to Charlottesville for a rematch with Virginia.

    Before September is over, the Cougars will also have played at Syracuse and Air Force, and opened up at home with Mississippi State.

    Not exactly the way to bring along a young quarterback.

    Brandon Doman, one of the three quarterbacks expected to contend for the position, said the players are anxious to get spring practice underway and get the bad taste out of their mouths.

    “I think the entire team is excited,” Doman said. “We’re excited about the changes and we have a lot of energy. We want to see what Lance Reynolds will do.

    Because the quarterback position at BYU is similar to falling into a bonfire, all eyes will be on Doman and fellow quarterbacks Bret Engemann and Charlie Peterson.

    “They’re both very good quarterbacks; we just lack experience,” Doman said. “The coaches have sat us down and said that the guy who moves the ball the best will be the starting quarterback.”

    While the Cougars will lack experience at the quarterback position, they are loaded at others.

    The running back position will feature freshman standout Luke Staley and powerful fullback Kalani Sitake. In addition, the Cougars hope to have halfback Junior Mahe back in the lineup.

    At wide receiver, the Cougars return a host of talented players including All-American candidate Margin Hooks.

    Assisting Hooks will be fellow starter Ben Horton, along with Mike Rigell and Jonathan Pittman.

    “Spring practice is going to be interesting,” Pittman said. “We’ve got a lot of new faces, but offensively we should be solid.”

    Defensively, the Cougars will begin spring practice without former defensive anchors Rob Morris and Brian Gray, who have aspirations of making it in the NFL.

    However, BYU will have plenty of experience with the likes of Jeff Holtry, Setema Gali, Hans Olsen, and Chris Hoke. A few junior college transfers will help solidify the secondary.

    “I think we’ll be as tough as nails on defense,” Hoke said. “We went out bad last year, but we’re really excited to work hard. We’re excited about our schedule.”

    For die-hard football fans spring practice and the spring game, which will take place March 25, is a swimming pool in the middle of the Sahara desert.

    And for the Cougars, it is invaluable experience for the exciting year to come.

    “We want to at least win the conference, and hopefully be ranked in the top 10,” Pittman said.

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