Tempers Flare: Fall Practice Notes & Quotes

With the Georgia Tech season opener just 10 days away, the heat and intensity turned up several noticeable notches today in practice as tempers flared and minor scuffles broke out.

Defensive end C.J. Ah You took exception to tight end Philip Niu holding him on a running play. He showed his displeasure by throwing a few punches and wrestling Niu to the ground. In a separate instance, a draw play up the middle by quarterback Matt Berry was followed by him hurling the ball at Cougarback Aaron Francisco. Both got in each other's face and jawboned a bit before joining their respective huddles.

"We're just getting sick of playing each other. Aaron and I have had a little rivalry since last week. It's no big deal," Berry said afterward.

Meanwhile, the coaches are getting louder; the instruction more intense; and the players more on edge.

The good news for Berry and Francisco is they are both back in action and participating in all drills. Francisco's foot has fully healed and Berry's index finger did not seem to bother him much today.

BYU head coach Gary Crowton commented on Berry's injured finger. "He had a slash which was really deep. It was like a razor slash right down to the bone, but it's feeling pretty good and he should be able to start taking snaps. It will be a little stiff, but it shouldn't break open."

The team finished practice with a red zone seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 full contact red zone drills. Berry completed a 20-yard touchdown pass across the middle to tight end Daniel Coats. He also threw a 10-yard fade to the back of the end zone to receiver Chris Hale. Hale beat cornerback Jernaro Gilford on the play, catching it at the right corner of the end zone.

Other highlights included Nate Soelberg jumping on an out-pattern throw by John Beck that could have easily been intercepted and/or returned for a touchdown. Todd Mortensen also completed a 10-yard to Matthew Smith for a touchdown.

Defensively, Jared Meibos made a nice tackle behind the line of scrimmage dropping running back Marcus Whalen for a three-yard loss. Cornerback Brandon Heaney capped the defensive highlights by almost picking off an out-pattern thrown to receiver Jason Kukahiko by Beck.

Nate Soelberg, converted to the new "gunner" position from wide receiver before his mission, commented on his position adjustment. "I'm adjusting real well. It's been a challenge, but I've finally found my position. I'm running with the second team, so I'm doing all right."

Soelberg came to BYU as a preferred walk-on with blazing 4.3 40 speed. "My speed is definitely an advantage. I never feel like I can't catch someone or stay with someone. My technique needs some work, but my speed helps compensate for a lot of that. However, I know that I can't solely depend on my speed to thrive at this position."

Soelberg admits he is benefiting from the tutelage of teammates Heaney, Gilford and Chad Barney. "I watch those players a lot. I probably watch more film on Heaney and Gilford than I do on myself. They're great corners and they're helping me a lot."

Soelberg is also anxious to return punts for the Cougars this season. "Right now, they have me at third-string behind Toby (Christensen) and David (Christensen), but hopefully I get a chance to show what I can do. I feel that I have a lot of speed and can break it anytime, I just need to prove to the coaches that I can catch the ball consistently."

The Cougars participating this afternoon in a 100-play full practice scrimmage. A TBS report will follow this evening. Stay tuned.

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