Offense does well with security and execution

BYU fans headed to LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday, many wanting to get a small look at BYU's new offense during the spring game. In nine series which featured the first-, second- and third-team offensive units, Coach Anae's offense didn't disappoint. The Cougars found the end zone quite a few times both through the air and on the ground.

In front of many fans sitting in the stands at LaVell Edwards Stadium, Coach Anae's offense had the better day on Saturday.

"I loved to see the whole offense with the ones, twos and threes go down and drive the ball and score," said Ammon Olsen. "Obviously that's what we want and that's what football is. To see that we can do that with a variety of people is pleasing to know and is good at this time in spring."

The offense reached the end zone four times during the scrimmage. The first touchdown came by way of a Jamaal Williams run on the first drive of the day. Olsen drove the offense down on that first series and did a very good job of taking care of the ball as well as making good decisions with it.

"It was so much fun to finally play in front of the crowd tackle football," said Olsen. "It's been a lot of momentum leading up to this day and I think we played well as an offense. We still have a long ways to go but it was a lot of fun."

Christian Stewart was up next at quarterback. After Olsen then got another series, true freshman Tanner Mangum took over and didn't fare too well, going three-and-out after a sack by Justin Blackmore. Olsen, on the other hand, had a good day overall.

"I think I played pretty well," Olsen said. "I feel like there's a lot of progress to go with picking up the speed and getting to my reads a little faster, but I think I played pretty well."

Usually the quarterbacks wear green jerseys signifying that they are off limits when it comes to tackling. That was not the case on Saturday, however, as the quarterbacks wore blue jerseys and thus were live and fair game.

"I was actually happy because this offense, without a live quarterback, is easier to guard," said Olsen. "It gives us another option and we saw that today. I was actually excited to finally get a hit for the first time in a few years after my mission. I had a lot of fun today."

During his first series, Stewart orchestrated a 12-play drive that culminated with a touchdown pass to Terenn Houk.

"I thought both quarterbacks, Ammon and Christian, did a pretty good job of handling the tempo, but we can always get better and we will," said tight end Richard Wilson. "I thought they both made good decisions and did a good job securing the ball."

Those two things – ball security and decision making – were probably two of the better results that could be taken from the scrimmage. The offense was obviously running at a faster pace, and so the risk of turning the ball over is more prominent. That was not the case on Saturday as the team went live.

"Those are two things [Coach Anae] emphasized," said Olsen, referring to ball security and decision making. "I think we did well with the speed. He wants a lot faster than what we went today and was pretty upset. He felt we were pretty slow, which is expected. But ball security, I think we did really well, and the people that we went with today didn't have any turnovers. I think we can still work on some things, but as far as ball security we did pretty well."

Despite the good showing by the offense, Anae is indeed looking for more.

"It's kind of new stuff for our guys, so hopefully when we get into a situation like this again we can go faster," said Coach Anae.

"I think we handled it pretty well as an offense," said Olsen. "Coach Anae wants us to go a lot faster than that and it's expected, but I think we did pretty well with the speed that we went at and with the reads and still making plays."

There was a bit of a tense moment that occurred in the fifth offensive series. After Olsen rolled out and hit Ross Apo for a sizable gain and a first down, the defense brought pressure the following play. The result was a sack that caused Olsen to be tangled up in an awkward position. Trainers came out onto the field and he had to be helped off.

"I don't think it's super severe, but you never know with knee problems. It's stiff but no super strong pain and just a little stiffness," said Olsen. "It should be fine. We'll get it checked out on Monday and they don't know for sure, obviously.

"I just felt my knee get rolled up on, so I just kind of let my body relax. I didn't want to strain anything. I felt a pop, but they're going to MRI it on Monday. Hopefully it's nothing big and I've never had any knee problems. We'll see how it goes."

Stewart came in and finished the series for the next two plays. The result of the series was a long field goal attempt by Tyler Jackson that was good.

True freshman quarterback Billy Green took the helm for the sixth offensive series, and surprisingly he did very well for his first time in that setting. Green hit a variety of receivers, including his backs out of the backfield. He even showed off his footwork by running the ball out of the pocket for good gains when pressured.

"I thought the quarterbacks played pretty good," said Coach Anae. "Billy Green ran for his life a couple of times and made something out of nothing. I'm pleased with our quarterbacks and the progress they're making."

Alani Fua had a very good defensive series in the seventh series of the scrimmage, knocking down a pass by Stewart and then following that up with a sack. BYU's defense stiffened up and the Cougar offense went three-and-out.

"We did some good things out there and were able to have some successes of our own," said cornerback Jordan Johnson. "We got some sacks and I know the safeties were licking their chops knowing the quarterbacks were live. They did some good things but we also did some good things too."

Tanner Mangum finished up the spring game as the last quarterback to take the field, playing in both of the final two series. On the second play of the first series, he targeted Apo who went up for the ball. However, cornerback Trevor Bateman came down with it. It would have been an interception had not there been an offside penalty prior to the snap. Mangum then hooked up with numerous receivers and also utilized his running backs in the passing game very well to keep the drive alive. In the end, he was able to scamper into the end zone for the touchdown.

The last series of the day belonged to running back Paul Lasike. Lasike ran the ball four times for about 84 yards, including a long run into the end zone after breaking a tackle. It was the best run of the day and a fitting way to end BYU's 2013 spring game.

"I thought Paul did a great job today," said Michael Alisa. "He had some big runs and played really hard. A lot of people forget that he hasn't played football that long, but today he did really well and was able to break some tackles and score a touchdown."


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