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Early practices please BYU players, Crowton

Spring drills will end with Blue-White game

PROVO — Despite waking up at 5 a.m. and braving cold temperatures the past three weeks, BYU defensive end Brady Poppinga says he's disappointed spring football practice is almost over.

The Cougars held their final early morning session Wednesday.

"I'm not a morning person," Poppinga said, "but I don't want it to end. It's been great. We've gotten a lot done and we're moving in the right direction." BYU will hold one more practice Friday afternoon before Saturday's Blue-White scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Coach Gary Crowton decided to schedule practices in the mornings rather than in the afternoons so players could avoid class conflicts. By holding morning practices, he hoped the players would spend the rest of their day focusing on schoolwork.

Still, there was another reason behind the move.

"I wanted to do something to bring the team together, to have the players feel like they're sacrificing for the team," Crowton said. "This has worked out pretty good."

SPRING GAME: The format of the Blue-White game will be different this year. Crowton has divided the players and members of the coaching staff into two squads for the scrimmage. Co-offensive coordinators Robbie Bosco and Todd Bradford will call the plays for the respective squads.

The past two years under Crowton, the spring game has consisted of the first-team offense going up against the second-team defense and the second-team offense against the first-team defense.

Crowton said he has returned to the traditional approach this year because he wants to provide the players and coaches more of a gamelike atmosphere. The scrimmage is scheduled to feature four eight-minute quarters.

The scrimmage is set for noon, but if the BYU basketball team defeats Connecticut Thursday, the scrimmage will start at 11 a.m. to avoid a conflict with the second-round game.

PENDLETON'S STATUS: Backup quarterback Lance Pendleton, who has broken a finger on his throwing hand, will not be available for the Blue-White game, Crowton said.

With Pendleton out, Crowton will have four quarterbacks to work with on Saturday — Matt Berry, John Beck, Todd Mortensen and Jackson Brown. Before spring drills started, Crowton said that there's a chance Pendleton could be switched to a different position. Crowton said he's pleased with Pendleton's performance at QB but added that he will discuss the situation with him after the conclusion of spring drills. Pendleton could move to wide receiver or safety, Crowton said.

CORRECTION: During a scrimmage on Saturday, offensive tackle Brandon Stephens removed his helmet and hit defensive lineman Brady Poppinga in the face with it. Sunday's Deseret News reported incorrectly that it was the other way around.


E-mail: jeffc@desnews.com