One of the primary reasons may have been the return of defensive leader and starting middle linebacker Cameron Jensen a day earlier than expected. Jensen was able to scrimmage in full contact drills for the first time this spring due to various nagging injuries that have kept him out of the full-contact scrimmages up to this point.
"It felt great," said Jensen. "I hadn't scrimmaged yet before today, so it just felt incredible to be out there. Just to be able to hit guys again was a great feeling. It's just a lot of fun."
Mendenhall estimated a Thursday return for Jensen at the earliest, but the coach wasn't all that shocked with Jensen coming back a day earlier. "Cameron Jensen loves to play and it's hard to keep him out," said Mendenhall. "He has experience, he has chemistry, he has passion and he has leadership, plus, he's a good player. You can hear him out there. He‘s tough."
Jensen fractured his big toe during the first week of practice. That was on top of other nagging injuries, but Bountiful, Utah product keeps trucking along. "I don't know what my deal is this spring, I usually get bruised up, but nothing like this," Said Jensen about his injuries. "I've had a broken toe, my shin, but luckily they're not serious and I can keep playing."
"I want to be out there whenever I can," said Jensen. "Sure it hurts. It hurts most when I stop and it may have affected my speed and movement a bit, I don't really know to be honest with you. I just want to play and this is really no big deal."
Having leaders out there showing the rest of the team how they need to practice and the effort they need to put forth is something that is not lost on Coach Mendenhall. The coach lauded Jensen's effort thus far in the spring and talked about the impact he has on the team when he's practicing. "The team needs role models, they need leaders," said Mendenhall. "They need to see leaders performing every day, not every other day. Cameron performs every day, so he can show the team how they need to play."
Said Jensen: "It's so much fun being out there. The program is tougher than it's ever been, but that is what makes it so fun. I just know that we're practicing with a purpose in mind and that we're practicing for the right reasons. Everything we do as a team is for a reason and knowing that we will achieve great results by what we're doing is so exciting to me as a player. I've never been this excited and that is what makes it so fun. I want to be out there. Missing any drill or any amount of practice time kills me."
The highlights from today's practice the following:
-Cameron Jensen intercepted a John Beck pass on the first series of the scrimmage
-Matt Berry had a string of three straight completions to Daniel Coats, Joe Semanoff and Johnny Harline respectively. Dan Bates and Justin Carlson-Maddux converged on Fahu Tahi in the backfield dropping him for a loss to end Berry's series of reps
-John Beck then got another set of reps that included a 15 yard pass to Semanoff and an 8 yard completion to Zac Collie on an out pattern. Jensen tackled Tahi in the backfield for no gain and an incompletion ended that series of reps.
-Jason Beck then saw his first series and promptly threw a 60 yard touchdown pass to Collie. Other highlights included short passes to Coats, Harline and Nathan Meikle. Chris Hale made a great defensive play knocking down what would have been a long gainer on a pass attempted for Collie down the sideline.
-Matt Berry in his second set of reps threw a nice 20 yard strike to Saia Hafoka. A couple of short runs from Wayne Latu put them into the redzone where Berry found Harline for a short-gainer and then threw a 15 yard pass to Riley Weber for a touchdown.
-The team then practiced redzone drills and John Beck got his first crack. His first pass was intercepted by Hale when the cornerback made a great play on the ball. After a 2 yard run by Tahi, Beck threw an 8 yard pass to Harline which he had to reach back and make an athletic grab for. The set ended with a Staffieri sack of John Beck.
-Matt Berry then got his chance in the redzone drills and threw a 4 yard pass to Collie. This was followed with an incomplete pass to Weber in which Russell Hill had great coverage. His set ended with a 16 yard touchdown pass to Joe Griffin
-Jackson Brown then saw his first set of reps for the practice and had two straight incompletions. After a Bates sack, Sosiua Sekona forced a fumble from Daniel Hansen in the backfield. Sekona recovered fumble he caused.
-Jason Beck then got his first set of reps in the redzone drill and was hurried into an incompletion by Sekona. After two incompletions and hit Meikle for a 14 yard pass.
-John Beck then got the last series of redzone reps and threw 3 straight incompletions. The last of which was dropped by Collie on a pass that should have gone for a touchdown.
-Kayle Buchanan dressed and participated in most drills, but was held out of the scrimmage
-a trio of seniors-to-be that BYU is recruiting from nearby Mountain View high school attended practice. Defensive ends/tight ends Peter Tuitupou and Benson Laumatia were joined by running back Kozy Antoine. All are currently receiving letters from BYU among other schools.