College football teams often decline to name a starter at a given position in an attempt to keep opponents guessing.

But keeping the identity of a starting field goal kicker under wraps? That’s a bit odd, and doesn’t carry much strategic value, if any.

But No. 16 BYU is doing that this week as it prepares to meet Notre Dame at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

“Going to keep that to myself, if that’s OK, until the game. But I understand the question, and where you are coming from. It needs to be a competition and we have full confidence in Justen Smith.” — BYU special teams coach Ed Lamb.

Special teams coach Ed Lamb said after Tuesday’s practice in Provo that he won’t reveal the identity of the Cougars’ field goal kicker against the Irish until kickoff time, which is 5:30 p.m. MDT.

“Going to keep that to myself, if that’s OK, until the game,” Lamb said. “But I understand the question, and where you are coming from. It needs to be a competition and we have full confidence in Justen Smith.”

Smith is the backup from Brighton High who has spent most of the last few years watching starting place-kicker Jake Oldroyd do his thing. Smith made his only field goal attempt this year, a 25-yarder against Wyoming.

Oldroyd is just 5 of 10 and has missed five of his last six attempts — all from less than 40 yards — which is why the question was asked.

Later in the interview, Lamb was asked if he was averse to using two kickers, perhaps one for shorter attempts and another for longer tries. He didn’t give a definitive answer.

“As a coach, I look at it as, ‘What is our highest potential at any given moment?’ And I have failed in that way because I think that we can be hitting at a higher clip than we are,” he said. “And so obviously, like at any position, talent is a big piece of that, and that is the thing I want to start with, and that is where I want to put most of my energy. But in the end we have to go with those who deliver the most often, so we are going to find that out.”

Smith, a walk-on, is 3 of 4 in his career. He made a clutch kick in the opener against Arizona at Allegiant Stadium last year when Oldroyd was ailing with a sore back that helped BYU beat the Wildcats 24-16.

Lamb has maintained through Oldroyd’s slump that his kickoffs have been fine and that he has the more powerful leg. The coach said on his Coordinators’ Corner program Monday that Oldroyd “is a talented kicker that is in a slump” and that Smith “deserves a chance to compete for that starting spot right now.”

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Lamb said that Oldroyd performed well in practice leading up to the Utah State game, but the fifth-year junior promptly missed two of three attempts against the Aggies.

“Clearly the results didn’t match what we would want,” Lamb said. “Jake is disappointed. For me, I just don’t see the game in that way. I think those that have played sports would agree. I don’t think there is something where there are magic words that are going to fix this. ... I think (the remedy) is good, old-fashioned work, surrounded by people that believe in you. And that is my purpose, to continue to believe in him.”

Malik Moore still on the mend

Lamb said Monday that starting free safety Malik Moore, who missed the 38-26 win over Utah State with a hand injury suffered against Wyoming, will also miss Saturday’s showdown with the Fighting Irish.

“He is not going to quite be ready this game,” Lamb said. “I don’t know about the other (defensive players) yet.”

Defensive linemen Gabe Summers, Josh Larsen and Blake Mangelson also missed the USU game with various, undisclosed injuries.

Lamb downplayed the chance that Moore could play with his hand heavily wrapped, like a club, saying he wouldn’t be at 100% and others such as Talan Alfrey, Ethan Slade and Micah Harper filled in admirably last week against the Aggies.


Cougars on the air

No. 16 BYU (4-1) vs. Notre Dame (2-2)

Saturday, 5:30 p.m. MDT

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Allegiant Stadium

Las Vegas, Nevada

TV: NBC

Radio: KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM/1160 AM

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