The pads come on and the hitting comes out

Over the past three practices the Cougars couldn't go full-contact, but that didn't slow down or stop the aggression and heated play between the players on offense and defense. On Friday, the Cougars were unleashed from their cages and let loose in full pads.

Smack talk filled the air and emotional pressure ran high like a shaken two-liter bottle of soda. The offensive and defensive units were separated by the practice field as the two sides squared off for full contact.

"It was a good day and there was some hitting going on out there," said Manoa Pikula, who ran with the second team. "It was really physical out there, but this is what we were waiting for. We all just wanted to go out there and hit someone."

And hit someone they did. There have been altercations and guys mixing it up at every practice session while not wearing pads. On Friday after the team donned full pads, the hitting seemed a little more personal and a little more in the way of trying to make a statement.

"When someone pops us in the mouth, we're not going to take it," said fullback Iona Pritchard. "We're going to pop them right back and try and do it even harder."

Scrimmage scrums

Middle linebacker Brandon Ogletree is a Tasmanian Devil dressed in a Cougar uniform. There hasn't been a day where he hasn't put a little extra into the contact, whether with or without pads, and that has caused some tempers to flare. On Friday it was Cody Raymond that took exception, and once one begins to scrap, their teammates join in until it's broken up.

However, on one particular play, Ogletree was on the receiving end of an unexpected big hit by a 6-foot-6-inch, 290-pound offensive tackle running downfield. As a play came to an end, Brock Stringham took the liberty of taking a shot on Ogletree. It didn't take long before both sides came together, with even quarterback Riley Nelson in the mix.

Biggest tackle of the day

The biggest, and cleanest, hit of the day came by way of Mike linebacker Zac Stout with the second-team defense. Paul Lasike, a rugby player from New Zealand, was introduced to full-contact American football on Friday after taking a handoff. Stout blasted into the gap Lasike was running through and met Lasike, stopping Lasike stone cold and driving him backwards. The defensive sideline erupted with cheers.

Ziggy getting jiggy

Will outside linebacker Ezekiel Ansah ran with the first-team defense and turned in a very good performance. On a run play, Joshua Quezada broke the grasp of Eathyn Manumaleuna, who shot the two-gap and turned it outside. There, Quezada met Ansah, who tackled him for a loss.

Ansah also sacked Nelson on a blitz, and then batted down a pass three plays later. It was the best personal performance by Ansah as a starting outside linebacker in spring practice so far.

Romney Fuga also recorded a sack against Nelson from his nose guard position.

Flying around

Kat safety Daniel Sorensen also turned in a good performance on the first day of full-contact. On the second play of the first scrimmage series, Sorensen rushed with a full head of steam from the defensive backfield and stuffed Quezada at the line of scrimmage. In run support, Sorensen came up numerous times to help with the tackling.

In pass support, Sorensen played physical and dislodged the ball from a receiver at least twice.

In the flats

Outside linebacker Alani Fua stepped in front of a receiver and intercepted a James Lark pass that was thrown in flats. In tight coverage, Fua mirrored the receiver as he cut on his route and was able to haul in the interception.

Spencer Hadley almost recorded an interception against Nelson as he stepped up into the receiver's route. However, the pass went through his hands and Ross Apo was able to haul in the pass and turn it up field for a sizable reception.

Sideline notes

There were a few recruits visiting BYU's practice on Friday. One was lineman and Cougar commit Keegan Hicks of Bingham High School. Joining Hicks was defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei, also of Bingham High School. The Miners watched the defensive line and hard-hitting action of practice with smiles on their faces.


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