Offense Both Shines and Dims

It's basically midway through spring camp and offensive coaches are managing to do what they can with what they have. There has been some of the good, the bad and the ugly. That is not a complete surprise considering the number of injuries that have occurred prior to and during spring camp, causing a patchwork offense to struggle.

The offense had some success today when squaring off against the defense. With the first team offense facing the first team defense during seven-on-seven skeli, Nelson went 6 for 7, throwing a touchdown to end the series.

"I look at the guys that I finished the season with last year and there's one out there, and I'm just talking about receivers, and there's none out there on the offensive line," Nelson said. "With receivers there's only one left and that's Cody [Hoffman], and they're scared to get him hurt so he's only in for a few plays. So it's rough."

After an incomplete pass to slot receiver Dallin Cutler, Nelson hooked up with Hoffman twice before completing passes to Kaneakua Friel, Skyler Ridley and Cody Raymond. On the seventh play of the drive, Nelson threw a pass in the end zone which was caught by a diving Cody Hoffman to end the first series of skeli period with a score.

"Skeli has been a good drill and guys have been running around and catching it," Nelson said. "I and James [Lark] feel pretty comfortable within the read, so that's good. But man, this isn't a seven on seven tournament and we aren't going to go down to South Bend, to Boise or to Salt Lake to play seven on seven. It's going to be 11 on 11 with full pads and full go, so we have to start getting better and with more quality reps."

James Lark continued where Nelson left off, throwing five complete passes before having an incompletion. Lark connected with receiver Kurt Henderson twice, Terenn Houk and Brett Thompson. Walk-on tight end Darin Tuttle made a nice catch to continue the march down field before Lark threw his first incomplete pass to Henderson.

It wasn't until boundary side cornerback O'Neill Chambers intercepted a deep Lark pass to receiver Brett Thompson that the drive came to an end. Lark went 5 for 7 on his first skeli series.

"James is a solid rock and moving the ball up and down the field," said Nelson. "He had a good Friday and, of course last week, and had a great team drive today."

Ammon Olson got the first nod with the third string offense during skeli period today, and, like Nelson and Lark, fared very well to start. He completed six passes to five different receivers before throwing two incomplete passes. Olson finished 6 for 8 in his first attempt with the third team offense.

"Ammon Olson has a really good feel," said Nelson. "His drive today in skeli was against the ones. He got a lot of first downs and moved the ball and got completion after completion so I was really impressed with that."

The third series featured the first team offense with Nelson at the helm. Receiver Skyler Ridley caught three straight passes after Nelson hooked up with fullback Iona Pritchard. Henderson also caught a pass down field to keep the drive alive.

After throwing an incomplete pass to Terenn Houk, Nelson hooked up with x-receiver Cody Raymond on a streak route for a touchdown. Raymond made a nice adjustment on the ball in the air and was able to take it away from Robbie Buckner who was looking to make the interception. After making the catch, Raymond streaked down the sidelines for the score.

For the final skeli period, Nelson began the series throwing two incomplete passes to tight ends Marcus Mathews and Friel. Running back Josh Quezada caught two passes from out of the backfield and once again, Skyler Ridley hauled in another before Nelson threw an incomplete pass to Cody Raymond. Thompson also made a nice grab down fied, but the series came to an end with an interception by strong safety Daniel Sorensen, also ending the skeli portion of today's practice.

Team Period

While the offense had some success during the previous skeli practice periods, there wasn't as much success during team period which fields the entire offensive and defensive units.

Nelson and the first team offense again started it off. After an incomplete pass, the offense gained five yards on two carries by running back Michael Alisa. Defensive back Mike Hague then hauled in an interception after Nelson was pressured out of the pocket, bringing the series to a close.

"Team [period] was rough but the other drills were pretty good," said a frustrated Nelson. "For example, we have a 240-pound freshman offensive tackle who is going up against a three year letterman. I mean, that's just what happens. When you're hitting your last step, and coach is blowing the whistle, things kind of get frustrating. So, you try and change and get outside of your normal and things get worse from there."

After a handoff to Paul Lasike that yielded no yards, quarterback James Lark connected with Cutler for 11 yards and walk-on tight end Darin Tuttle for an additional five yards. Outside linebacker Seth Probert then deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage. For the series, Lark went 2-2 before the ball was turned over on downs.

Nelson again took the field with the first team and the offensive troubles continued. Dallin Cutler did make a nice 11 yard catch down field on a second down, but he wasn't able to beat Jordan Johnson on the next play. From the field corner position, Johnson made a nice play on a Nelson pass in the end zone to knock the ball away. Nelson then threw an incomplete pass to tight end Mathews and, after a false start by the offense, was sacked by defensive tackle Ian Dulan to end the series.

Taysom Hill closed out team period going 0 for 1in an attempt to connect with running back Adam Hine. Manoa Pikula made a nice play in space to break up the passing attempt. However, Hill did manage to rush for seven yards on one play. In the end it wasn't enough and practice time expired.

"We've got to find ways to make plays," Nelson said. "Guys gotta start stepping up, and, man, those are opportunities. You kill for opportunities to get reps during spring. You should rise to the occasion and we need to fix that quickly because time is running out." "It's been frustrating the last couple of days," Nelson said.

Sideline Notes

Quarterback McCoy Hill is getting a look at the tight end position. Coach Doman spoke with Hill in his office and the two feel the position change could possibly work out in Hill's favor in the near future at BYU.

"Although I think he has a chance of being a good quarterback, he came in and we had a good conversation," said Coach Doman. "I presented the option of playing tight end and that the opportunity is bigger right now and that the opportunity to practice would be significant. I told him to go home and think about it and he came back and said, ‘I want to try it.'"

Hill, who is trying to earn a scholarship, will be leaving on a mission in May and already has his mission call.

"He won't be with us this fall but he's trying to earn a scholarship and to his credit he's doing everything to try and find a way to get that scholarship," Coach Doman said. "For a 6-4 or a 6-5 athletic guy, I gotta think that if he continues to battle he could be a division one player."


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