Cougar Defense Gives Coaches A Clinic

With a big crowd of high school coaches on hand to attend the BYU coaching clinic, the Cougar defense again put on a show in Friday's practice. The defense virtually shut down the offense which is riddled with injuries and is struggling mightily to sustain drives.

At this point in spring practice, the Cougar offense resembles a car pieced together just to run, and not the finely tuned machine Cougar fans hope to see in the fall. Injuries and the youth of the patchwork offense have made the challenge of facing a more experienced defensive unit a difficult one.

"I think we have a lot of players that aren't learning their position," said Brandon Ogletree, who is currently sidelined with a fractured foot. "We just all know everything so we can just focus on execution, which is huge. When you can just do that you play a lot faster and we've had really good practices so far."

Today was no different from recent practices from a defensive standpoint. The first team offensive unit, comprised of an offensive line of Corbin Kaufusi at left tackle, Solomone Kofu at left guard, Blair Tushaus at center, Manaaki Vaitai at right guard and Michael Yeck at right tackle, took the field.

Nelson's first pass resulted in a one yard loss to Quezada, but his second pass to Hoffman was well-placed and resulted in a very nice catch in tight coverage that went for 31 yards. Hoffman went up with cornerback Jordan Johnson in his back pocket, and came down with the ball with both feet just barely in bounds.

However, Johnson would get his revenge a few plays later. Playing tight coverage against Dallin Cutler, Johnson broke up a pass in the end zone by stepping in front of Cutler knocking the ball away.

Michael Alisa was stopped by Mike Muehlmann for no gain on a run, but on the follow play was able to break loose up the middle for an 11 yard scamper into the blue zone before coaches blew the whistle.

Tight end Marcus Mathews hauled in a short five yard pass that would have gone for more if it not for a quick read and react play by free safety Joe Sampson.

After a nine yard Nelson scramble, outside linebacker Alani Fua put the brakes on the offense with a sack for a loss. The sack by Fua was his third in three days as he continues to have a very good spring camp.

The offensive series ended with an incomplete pass to Dallin Cutler in the end zone.

"You look at our secondary and we've got some good athletes back there," Ogletree said. "It makes a really big difference and not only that, they're all playing assignment sound. The only way they can score on us is by blown coverage, and so far we haven't had any blown coverage."

Riley Stephenson kicked a field goal from the 20 yard line to end the series.

The second team took the field as some experimenting was employed on the defensive line along with some changes in secondary coverage. Jray Galea'i saw action at the kat safety with O'Neil Chambers playing at the field side corner. Ezekiel Ansah got some time at d-tackle where he put his size and speed to good use, disrupting the pocket from the three-point.

James Lark's first past was a nine yard completion to freshman wide out Terenn Houk with Chambers in coverage. However, Lark would only complete that single pass in what was a three and out series.

Sampson also commented on the defense's success so far in spring practice.

"We all just love each other and play for each other," said Sampson. "We're just out there having fun and doing our assignments and what you see happened today is what happens when you have a bunch of guys playing for each other."

The third team with Taysom Hill fared a little better than the second unit. After rolling out and throwing an incomplete pass to Skyler Ridley, Hill completed a pass to Quezada for eight yards. The coaches were generous on the play, however, as Manoa Pikula came up and would have stopped the play at the line of scrimmage.

Hill connected with receiver Kurt Henderson for seven yards on a nice timing route. After a couple of bad snaps from center, defensive end Ian Dulan stopped Alisa at the line of scrimmage for no gain followed by two incomplete passes to end the series.

"I just think we came out here and played harder today," Sampson said. "Coach Mendenhall came out and gave the defense a speech before practice started. He told us that we need to get better and that we want to be better than last year's group and that's what we're working for."

Quarterback Stats

Riley Nelson: 3-5 for 34 yards with one run for six yards and no touchdowns.

James Lark: 1-3 for eight yards no touchdowns.

Taysom Hill: 1-4 for seven yards no touchdowns.

Sideline Notes

Today BYU held its coaches clinic today, with high school coaches in attendance from both in and out of state. Coach Mendenhall discussed the value of the clinic.

"The relationships are very important if they're sincere and authentic and if they're real," Coach Mendenhall said. "That's what we hope people see when they come here. Our staff is genuine and caring people that really want the right type of players to play here and treat people really well. If that's the basis of the relationship it's usually really productive."

Coaches lined up along the sidelines to watch the Cougars run through drills and to see the defense virtually shut down the Cougar offense. Many could be heard approving of the offenses new G.E.T drill that was executed very cleanly today. The coaching clinic not only educates high school coaches about football, it also benefits the BYU program.

"Sure, because what happens is those coaches leave and then they know who we are and what we're looking for," Coach Mendenhall said. "When they see someone, and they're an advocate of what we're doing, they'll call up and say, ‘You know what, we played this school and they have a kid that I've heard great things about and this is his name' so, yeah, it's great."

Return To The Field

Although there are around 40 reported players with various injuries, nicks and dings, some players returned to the field to run through some team skeli drills today. Tight end Richard Wilson and Austin Holt did some running and catching in a mock skeli setting designed to go over play knowledge.

Also, Ryan Freeman was back at left guard today along with Ryker Mathews and Braden Hansen who played one series of today's team scrimmage.

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