The tug of war between the offense and defense during team period saw successes on both sides of the ball. There were many scuffles between the units it reminded one of the first day of spring camp. Still, the defense was able to shut down the offense for the most part at the beginning of today's observation period. The offense was able to eventually find the end zone towards the end of team period and that even led to a scuffle in the end zone. Overall the defense had a very good showing. In fact, Coach Mendenhall approached the media today with all smiles expressing his pleasure in how his team is progressing over spring camp.
The offensive line continues to show improvement as they work to become a more cohesive unit this spring. The first string line went as follows (L-R): Kyle Johnson, Solomone Kafu, Terrance Alletto, Tuni Kanuch, and Michael Yeck. Second string was (L-R): Quinn Lawlor, Brian Rawlinson, Parker Dawe, Tui Crichton, and Ului Lapuaho. Today's practice saw the spring practice debut of Ryker Mathews and Brayden Kearsley. Both players rotated in with the second string offensive line. Mathews saw action at left tackle and right guard while Kearsley saw reps at right tackle and right guard. Kearsley wasn't in for long before he started mixing it up with linebacker Austin Heder. Kearsley threw a few haymakers at Heder before the two players were separated. Today's practice was extremely chippy on both sides of the ball and minor skirmishes broke out regularly. Listen to Offensive Line Coach Garret Tujague talk about his position group here:
Taysom Hill continues to get the lions share of the reps at quarterback and is working to improve on his numbers from last season. Christian Stewart is firmly entrenched as Hill's backup but is also making strides this spring in directing the offense. Listen to Taysom Hill talk about the strides both he and the offense are making here:
Nick Kurtz is finally starting to settle in and make plays. Kurtz is starting to see more and more time with the first team offense as he is catching on to the pace and style of BYU's offense. He had a couple nice catches and with impressive open field running during media observation time tonight. He was matched up mainly with Trent Trammel and was making plays against the talented cornerback. Colby Pearson, Terenn Houk, Kurt Henderson, and Mitchell Juergens continue to make plays at the receiver position. Walk-on receiver Cody Bond had a touchdown during team drills as well.
Devin Mahina has stepped into the starting role at tight end this season with the mass departure of tight ends this offseason due to graduation. Mahina has stood out with his play-making ability and talks about his role this spring right here:
The kicking game continues to be a three-way battle between Vance "Moose" Bingham, Trevor Samson, and Austin Brasher. Bingham connected on all 4 of his attempts this evening, connecting from 37 and 43 yards, respectively. Samson connected on 1 of 2 attempts, making from 37 yard but missing wide right from 43 yards. Brasher connected on his lone attempt from 37 yards. It appears that, based on reps, Bingham has assumed frontrunner status and has shown the most polished leg thus far in camp.
Zac Stout at Buck Linebacker
Coach Mendenhall mentioned that there is one position among the linebackers that has been solidified. There is a good chance that Mike Linebacker Manoa Pikula will have that position on lockdown along with Alani Fua at the Sam. Usually playing behind Pikula on the second team, Mike linebacker Zac Stout was playing Buck Linebacker today. Much of that could have been because Jherremya Leuta-Douyere left practice early to go to class, but Stout moved over to the Buck side rather than Austin Heder moving up from the second team. Currently playing on the second team middle Mike and Buck linebacker positions are Adam Pulsipher (Mike) and Austin Heder (Buck).
Walk-on Gets a Sack
Walk-on linebacker Peter Welsh has made some plays over spring camp. He's been in on a few sacks, blitzing from the outside and today was no exception. Welsh was able to turn the corner and get to the quarterback for a sack to the delight of his teammates. Welsh isn't a very big linebacker, coming in at around 5-11, 205-pounds. Despite his size, he's made quite a few plays during the observation periods of spring camp.
Defensive Line Dominance
The defensive line consisting of Remington Peck, Travis Tuiloma, and Graham Rowley have had their ups and downs over spring camp. Today it was an up-day for the trio as they held their gaps and made plays within their assignments. Jamaal Williams was stopped a few times by the efforts of Rowley and Tuiloma. As far as getting to quarterback Taysom Hill both Tuiloma and Rowley recorded a sack today. Tuiloma busted up the middle and was able to sack Hill as he was dropping back to pass without even being touched due to a miscommunication on the offensive line. Rowley was able to beat the guard from the four technique and get into the backfield for his sack.
Welcome to the Line
The defensive line even recorded an interception today on a tipped pass. Newly converted nose tackle Josh Carter hauled in a tipped pass and ran the ball back to the end zone with his teammates cheering him on with an escort the entire way.
Hit of the Day
The biggest hit of the day during the observation period came by way of free safety Sky PoVey who laid the wood to Terenn Houk over the middle. It was just a taste of how physical today's practice was overall. PoVey made a nice read on the play and came up to give an unsuspecting Houk a piece of his mind.
Boundary cornerback Trevor Bateman got into a physical altercation with receiver Cody Pearson. The two went at it pretty heavily but stopped short of receiving a flag from the refs as the bigger players on both sides stepped in to break it up. The following play, Pearson got some retribution by sending Bateman into the sideline with a well-timed shove five yards off the ball, eliciting huge cheers from the rest of the offense. Bateman got up visibly rattled, but kept his composure and finished the practice strong.