Spring practice: day 8

On Friday, BYU held its annual coaches clinic. Hundreds of high school football coaches were in attendance at the indoor practice facility as the Cougars participated in a full-contact practice. The defense was flying around during early scrimmaging and making their presence known, but the offense started making headway during later blue-zone drills.

"I think we're progressing," said Coach Mendenhall following Friday's practice, "and I think there are a lot of fundamentals that are improving, our execution is getting a little cleaner, the excitement is still holding, and we're having a successful spring to this point."

Mendenhall noted that there have also been very few injuries of a significant nature during the spring thus far.

As for the coaches clinic, Mendenhall had positive things to say about that as well.

"I think it was excellent. I think [the coaches] got a lot of knowledge, had a great day, learned a lot more about our program, had some fun, and all that is for the benefit of our in-state high school players. We had 10 coaches from out of state come in, the best of the best in high school football, and I think it really will benefit our high school coaches, and again, the programs."

For Coach Mendenhall, the clinic is yet another opportunity to share the values and unique nature of his program. Based on feedback following these clinics, it would appear that his efforts have been successful.

"Most of [the participating coaches] talk about the efficiency of the program, they talk about the clear direction, they talk about having a completely different view of BYU when they leave as when they showed up, they talk about the type of young men that are here, and really the values."

First scrimmage session

A fired-up Cougar defense made things difficult for the offense during the early scrimmage portion of practice. The tone was set on the first play, when J.J. Di Luigi was stuffed around the line of scrimmage. However, the defense was a bit too overaggressive, leading to a penalty that appeared to be for a horse-collar.

Bryan Kariya was then tackled for a loss, and Jake Heaps' first pass fell incomplete as the intended receiver was nailed by a fast-charging defender.

Riley Nelson then got in and, after he rushed the ball for a loss, Joshua Quezada rushed for only 1 yard.

James Lark was up next, and after a 2-yard Di Luigi rush, his only pass was broken up by outside linebacker Alani Fua – much to the delight of the entire defense.

Heaps then got another go at it, and after a Drew Phillips run for 3 yards, the offense got its one big play of the first scrimmage session. Heaps went downfield to McKay Jacobson on a play that gained 45 yards. Kariya then rushed for 6 yards and Di Luigi rushed for 1 yard.

The first scrimmage session ended when Sae Tautu hit Quezada in the backfield, leading to a loss of about 4 yards.

Second scrimmage session

The second scrimmage session went quite a bit better for the offense. During this portion of practice, the offense got to start each drive in the blue zone.

However, it seemed like it would be more of the same initially. On the first play, Di Luigi broke to the outside on a running play and was able to avoid a few tackles before a fired-up Uona Kaveinga belted him out of bounds, much to the peril of the Total Blue Sports staff standing by the sideline. Di Luigi gained 2 yards for his trouble.

That was followed up by an incompletion and two consecutive false starts. On third-and-long, a streaking Jacobson couldn't haul in a would-be touchdown pass from Heaps. Justin Sorensen, however, connected on a 45-yard field goal attempt.

Nelson went next. Once again, the running game couldn't get going, as Phillips ran twice for a combined loss of 3 yards. But, a 17-yard screen pass to an elusive Quezada got the offense going in the right direction, and Nelson hit Matthew Edwards for a 3-yard touchdown. Sorensen's extra point attempt was good.

Heaps led the offense on the final drive of the day. Quezada and Di Luigi each ran once, but combined for only 3 yards. However, a 9-yard Di Luigi reception and 6-yard Marcus Mathews reception got them knocking on the door. Kariya finished off the drive with a 2-yard rush into the end zone, and Sorensen again knocked the extra point through the uprights.

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