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Don’t hold breath for a starting QB

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PROVO — With Week 3 of spring football practices under way, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall is not yet ready to name a starting quarterback.

The battle between sophomore Max Hall and junior Cade Cooper could extend beyond spring drills, which culminate April 14 with the annual Blue-White game.

"We have two good quarterbacks. I think the race is going to be very contested and most likely will continue through the summer from what I see today," Mendenhall said Monday. "By the end of spring, I'm not so sure we'll have a clear favorite. I think they're both coming along great. I like the competition and the edge it adds to practice. I think the offense is responding to that."

The competition between the two "swings back and forth, just as the offense does against the defense, based on the practice," Mendenhall added.

Cooper, a left-hander, earned All-America honors at Snow Junior College last season before transferring to BYU. Though the Cougars had run out of scholarships due to a flurry of early commitments, Cooper was promised a scholarship by the fall. As it turned out, he didn't have to wait that long, as he received a scholarship in February.

A Lehi native, Cooper has long been a BYU fan and he said wearing a Cougar uniform has been "a dream come true."

Hall, meanwhile, grew up an Arizona State fan. That makes sense, considering that he hails from Mesa, Ariz., and his uncle, Danny White, played quarterback at ASU before going on to a successful career with the Dallas Cowboys.

Following an outstanding prep career in Arizona, Hall signed with the Sun Devils and redshirted before serving a mission and transferring to BYU. He sat out the 2006 season and served as the Cougars' prep team QB.

Since his arrival in Provo, Hall has been indoctrinated about the prodigious quarterback tradition at BYU.

"Having gone to ASU first, I didn't really know all the history of BYU, growing up an ASU fan," he said. "But once I got here, I learned about it, I was like, 'This place is sweet. I've got to go out and perform. All these guys are behind me. I'd better step up.' Having guys to learn from like John Beck, and guys to look back at like Steve Young, Jim McMahon and Robbie Bosco, all those guys, it's just awesome. It's really a blessing for me to be here right now. ... To be in the situation to potentially play for three seasons — a lot of those guys didn't get that opportunity."

Last season, Hall tried to absorb as much as he could from the man he's trying to replace, Beck — a three-year starter, the 2006 Mountain West Conference offensive player of the year and the man who led the Cougars to an 11-2 season.

"The biggest thing (Beck) taught me is how to run this offense effectively and almost perfect," Hall said. "Second of all, how to be a great leader and a great quarterback. That's what John is. He's someone all the guys looked up to. And if that's something I can achieve while I'm here, that's what I want to do."

Hall prepped at the same school, Mountain View High, that produced Beck.

SCRIMMAGE DO-OVER: The Cougars will hold their third scrimmage of the spring today at LaVell Edwards Stadium, where they held a scrimmage last Friday.

"I thought the execution took a huge step forward on Friday," Mendenhall said. "I wasn't as happy after watching it (on film) with the competitive will. What I thought was the strength the first Friday (scrimmage) in emotion and contact and competitive will, with the execution being relatively poor, in the second (scrimmage), the execution was much, much, much improved at the expense of some of the physical and competitive nature. So we're going back to do it again."

'Y' FLAG AT PRACTICE: Before Monday's practice, the Cougars carried out their "Y" flag and posted it on the practice field. Now, it will be a fixture at all of BYU's practices.

"It's a reminder," Mendenhall explained. "It will be on the field from this point on."

The Cougars have carried out the flag out prior to all their games since Mendenhall took the helm of the program. A symbol of tradition and the principles that the program represents, the flag has been signed by the all the players and members of the coaching staff from the past two seasons.

E-mail: jeffc@desnews.com