Starting up front the offensive line saw many players switching around at various positions today. This practice is customary under Coach Tujague, enabling players to cross-train and feel comfortable at different spots on the line.
Noting that this doesn’t much of anything at this point in time, but the first team offensive line unit to take field consisted of the following players:
The second unit offensive line to take the field with Stewart at the helm was as follows:
When the first team offensive line unit took the field for their second series, there were some changes to front line. Wesley was still at left tackle and Johnson at left guard, but Alletto was replaced by Fusi at the center position. Brayden Kearsley stayed at right guard while Lapuaho was replaced by Brock Stringham at right tackle to look like this:
LT Wesley, LG Johnson, C Fusi, RG Kearsley, RT Stringham
When the first team unit took the field again for their third series, more shuffling ensued, with the initial group with Alletto at center and Lapuaho at right tackle taking the field, so there is plenty of movement along the line as the coaching staff looks to find the right combination of players.
The team scrimmage was divided into two periods. The first half saw the offense struggle a bit to find their groove. Much of that could be placed at the feet of the Cougar defense that seemed to step it up a notch after being kicked around by the offense for the past couple of practices. The offense failed to really get anything going and there were no touchdowns scored in the first half by any offensive team.
Case in point - after two completed passes to tight end Terenn Houk to start the first series under Taysom Hill was quickly ended by a sack by newly converted linebacker Michael Alisa from the Mike linebacker position.
The second offensive series didn’t fare much better with Christian Stewart under center. Although Stewart would seem to have a better day today running against the second team defense. The highlight of the second series came by way of a dazzling catch made by Jordan Leslie in traffic over a defender to the cheers of on-looking fans and teammates.
The defense would continue to tight up though as the second series led to no results giving way to Taysom Hill and his group to take charge. After a couple of handoffs to running back Adam Hine and a quick pass to Nick Kurtz, the offense stalled once again. The defensive secondary came up big in coverage.
It appeared that for the first couple of series with Taysom Hill, the offense was focused more on getting the running backs involved. Adam Hine and Paul Lasike were the two primary work horses. Hine was able to find a gap for a meager three yards bring his total to 11 yards on three handoffs over the first two series. Lasike would get his shot from a swing pass that went for a sizable gain of around 23 yards. Hine would bust an 11 yard run up the middle the following series with Christian Stewart as the quarterback.
Devon Blackmon Show
The offense started clicking as the practice progressed and eventually found their rhythm. After a brief intermission, Christian Stewart found Devon Blackmon down field for around a 30-yard touchdown. Blackmon took a short pass and out ran the defenders to reach pay dirt.
Two series later, Stewart would find Blackmon again for what was approximately a 60-yard bomb. Stewart rolled out as defenders and linebacker rushed to cover drag routes and contain the legs of Stewart. Blackmon was left nearly all alone streaking down field and Stewart connected deep with him for the longest score of the day.
Stewart would connect with running back Jamaal Williams as well on a swing pass that Williams would take in for a touchdown. Williams caught the pass, made a few moves, and ran the ball into the endzone.
Coach Holliday was very hands on today with Devon Blackmon. BYU’s wide receiver’s coach was in the back pocket of Blackmon as he lined up giving him instruction as the cornerback would line up across from him. This was the case multiple times and each time the results were successful as Blackmon followed the coaching of Holliday.
Taysom Hill Gets Going
With Christian Stewart having two scores under his belt, Taysom Hill would eventually get going in the second half of team scrimmage. He would connect with Nick Kurtz for a 30-yard touchdown to the cheers of fans watching from the sidelines. Hill also found Mitch Mathews a few times for sizable gains to keep the chains moving on his last two series. Both Mathews and Kurtz provide big, reliable targets for Hill.
Return of Algie Brown
Running back Algernon Brown was out on the practice field today running through drills, which was good to see. Brown didn’t take any reps today but he was dressed and with the team during the warm up session.
The defense played contain football and bottled up the offense for the most part. In the passing game the secondary kept in check BYU’s speed, tall receivers while marginalizing the tight ends. Again, it wasn’t until the second half that Stewart and Hill found the end zone.
Michael Alisa recorded a sack, as already mentioned, from his Mike linebacker position. The middle linebackers saw quite a few fresh faces receiving playing time against the first and second team offense.
Sione Takitaki was very active from the middle linebacker position getting reps against the first and second team offense. Takitaki is big and fast and the coaches moved him around to allow him to pass rush from various angles. On one play he came close to sacking Taysom Hill but was fooled by a fake hand off in the backfield.
Harvey Langi also received his shot to face the first and second team units as well. Langi moved well in coverage and was in on a few plays from his position. The most impressive linebacker on the day was Va’a Niumatalolo, who seemed to be everywhere. With the absence of Manoa Pikula, who is still waiting for his grades to be posted, the coaches threw in various middle linebacker combinations including Austin Heder who also did well today shoring up the middle.
Freshman Michael Shelton recorded the only interception of the day while Robertson Daniel had a very solid day at the boundary cornerback position. Daniel had multiple pass breakups, including one on Ross Apo over the middle. Harvey Jackson also got into the mix both in pass coverage and in run coverage. Jackson has shown that he is very good at closing the gaps in the run and passing game.