BYU Spring Ball: Day Eight [UPDATED]

Total Blue Sports has a play-by-play summary of Friday's scrimmage on day eight of the Cougars spring football practice. Come back throughout the evening for updates including an interview with Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall and other observations from practice.

Today's practice marked the halfway point of this year's spring practice session for the 2005 Cougar football team. It also marked the halfway point of the first spring practice administered by head coach Bronco Mendenhall. As Coach Mendenhall alluded to yesterday, today's practice ended with a live scrimmage that he will use to evaluate the team in earnest for the rest of this spring practice session and into next season.

So what were the early returns according to Coach Mendenhall following today's live scrimmage held inside the Indoor Practice Facility? "I like the way they work," said Mendenhall. "Whether we're on track or not is still a work in progress. We're making steps everyday and they're making steps everyday to meet my expectations. We're not where we need to be yet, but I feel that they're working on a pace to get there. I feel that we'll have an outstanding season if they remain diligent and continue to show resolve."

An aspect any new head coach encounters during his first season is how well the team responds to his changes and the program he puts forth in general. After two weeks of spring practice, Coach Mendenhall is finding out that the team in general is showing well in responding to his demanding regimen, "There willingness to work in accordance to my demands, I didn't know how that would be. I told them that I expected more of them before we started and so far that has happened."

Regarding what transpired today in the scrimmage, Mendenhall was pleased in some aspects and a bit disappointed in others. "I like the way that they compete and that it matters to them whether they win or lose," said Mendenhall. "After two weeks of spring I'd be very alarmed if they weren't upset if they didn't have a good day. The offense today sustained some drives, but they weren't able to put it in the endzone. But it's bothering them if they don't have a good day and that in and of itself says that they're taking ownership of their performance and that's a positive sign."

Regarding the quarterbacks, Mendenhall remarked: "They're competing. I think John Beck, Jason Beck and Matt Berry have all done good things. Could I tell you today who the starter is? I'm not willing to do that. I'm going to let it play out. That position to me is no different than any other. I like the competition and I like what it's doing to all three of their performances."

One thing that was a bit striking about the scrimmage was the depth of the offensive line as Coach Robert Anae rotated the eight offensive linemen that were ready to suit up and play today. "Right now it's an alarming concern," Said Mendenhall regarding the depth along the offensive line. "We only practiced with 8 today. Will it be a concern in the fall? I don't think so. Right now we're having to manage that position more so than any other in regards to how we practice."

However, Mendenhall sees a bright silver lining in the lack of offensive line depth ironically in that it will help build depth this coming fall. "I'll tell you, it's a great way to build depth," said Mendenhall. "A lot of that is happening in the secondary as well. They're getting a chance to get evaluated and if I were in that position I'd be thankful that guys were hurt."

One of the offensive linemen that Mendenhall is counting on to man the critical left tackle position is Eddie Keele. After practicing for the first part of practices, Keele has been held out of drills for the past two days. "Eddie has a concussion and they do the cognitive test on him every day," said Mendenhall. "We won't risk anything when it comes to concussions and it's just day by day. Up until he was hurt I've really liked the way he was playing. I liked his physicality, his competitive spirit and his mindset."

Starting defensive end from a year ago Manaia Brown has been seeing reps with the 2's and the 3's as of late playing the nose tackle position. "I didn't think he was playing hard enough at end," said Mendenhall regarding Brown. "If he's not going to chase the ball around on the outside, then I'll have him play inside."

One player who saw a return to practice after being charged to lose some weight and lose that weight soon is Moa Peaua. Peaua practiced for the first time today and played at fullback. Said Mendenhall: "Moa made weight. He made weight this morning. He is 292 now. He started at 302 and had to lose 10 pounds to play and he's done so. It's important to have any player out there so that builds confidence in me as a head coach. Being a player, I wouldn't want to take him on as a lead blocker. It's a nice statement by him to the team that he's working hard. Who knows how hard for him that was? But he's finally got the weight off."

Here's a play-by-play synopsis of today's scrimmage:

First Drive - 1's vs. 1's

John Beck in

-5 yard slant Beck To Nathan Meikle

-Curtis Brown 6 yard run up the middle

-Curtis Brown 14 yard swing pass from John Beck

-Incomplete pass from John Beck to Daniel Coats

-Fahu Tahi 4 yard run

Jason Beck in

-Breyon Jones 16 yard pass to from Jason Beck

-Jason Beck incomplete pass; Hurried by Justin Carlson-Maddux and Markell Staffieri

-False Start

-Incomplete pass from Jason Beck to Matt Smith; Kayle Buchanan broke up pass.

Matt Berry in

-Incomplete pass from Matt Berry to Jonny Harline; Batted away by Cameron Jensen

End of drive

Second Drive - 2's vs. 2's

-Zac Collie11 yard pass from Matt Berry

-Jonny Harline 18 yard pass from Matt Berry

John Beck in

-Incomplete slant pass from John Beck to Daniel Coats; thrown behind receiver

-Jonny Harline 5 yard pass from John Beck

-Dan Bates sacked John Beck

End of drive

Third Drive - 2's vs. 2's

-Incomplete pass from John Beck to Breyon Jones

-false start

-Incomplete pass from John Beck to Michael Reed; thrown behind receciver

Matt Berry in

-Zac Collie 17 yard slant from Matt Berry

-Fahu Tahi 12 yard swing pass from Matt Berry

-Fumbled snap recovered by Richard Nehring

End of drive

Fourth Drive - 1's on 1's

-Fahu Tahi run for 2 yard loss; Michael Marquardt and Justin Carlson-Maddux on the stop

Jason Beck in

-Inccomplete pass from Jason Beck to Daniel Coats

-Michael Reed 7 yard slant from Jason Beck

-David Gooch 5 yard slant from Jason Beck

-Curtis Brown runs off tackle for 2 yards

John Beck in

-Curtis Brown 3 yard run

-On 4th and short, Fahu Tahi is hit 3 yards deep in the backfield by Quinn Gooch; Tahi dragged the tackler 4 yards for the 1st down

-Fahu Tahi run for 3 yard loss; Wagner strung out the runner and Manaia Brown chased him down

Matt Berry in

-Incomplete pass from Matt Berry to Breyon Jones; thrown behind the receiver

-Eric Watterson 5 flare pass from Matt Berry

End of drive

Fifth Drive - 2's vs. 2's

-Richard Nehring sacks Matt Berry

-Matt Smith 60 yard pass from Matt Berry for a touchdown; O'Neil Howell with covereage; K.C. Bills almost caught the receiver before the endzone

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