BYU Football Practice Reports 8/16

The Cougar football team took to LaVell Edwards stadium today for their first full scrimmage of the year. Little warm-up was done, as the team started the scrimmage shortly after 10:00 a.m. with referees, yard-markers and everything else to simulate a real game situation.

"I love being out there able to practice at the stadium," said cougarback Dustin Gabriel. "I think it definitely raises everybody's level of play just being in this great stadium where so many great players have played before."

Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall was pleased with how the team came out. "As I watched the team come to the field I think they had the correct mindset and I think their intent was to play their best today," he said.

"It definitely makes you a bit more intense I think practicing in the stadium", said receiver Nathan Miekle, "I feel we did well today and both sides were very intense throughout the scrimmage."

But not everything was rosy as Mendenhall was quick to point out.

"There were some ball security issues on some critical third-downs which I feel need to be corrected," said Mendenhall. "The punter had some accuracy trouble as well."

The defense bounced back but did not entirely hold the offense in check with the offense scoring three touchdowns on a leaping grab by Todd Watkins on a 12-yard pass from John Beck, another 12-yard reception by Zac Collie, and a 5-yard grab by Michael Reed, who hung on to the ball despite a fearsome hit from Justin Luettgerodt.

"It's sort of bittersweet for us guys on defense to see the offense get better and progress," noted Gabriel, "We need them to be productive and it's exciting to see them become productive even if it's against us."

The defense stepped up during the practice matching the offense's intensity as they intercepted several passes and threw running backs for losses on more than one occasion,

"I feel we definitely did better as a defense today," said Gabriel. "We have a lot of work to get done, but I feel we were better in coverage and our pressure up front was better."

Said Mendenhall: "Every snap that Dustin Gabriel takes, I think he's improving. Dustin's instincts are coming a long. His positioning is getting more correct as those instincts develop."

Mendenhall has not made it a secret that there are a lot of concerns within the Cougar secondary, however he sees progress being among his defensive backs.

"The secondary is making some strides," said Mendenhall. "Justin Robinson is getting a chance at corner to play a lot of snaps going against some good receivers and he's getting closer. He's not making enough plays on the ball, but he's in position now where before he wasn't in position. The rest I can't really comment on now except for K.C. Bills who just needs as many reps as possible for him to get ready."

Scrimmage Summary:

-The first series featured the ones against the ones and started off with a seven-yard carry by Curtis Brown, followed by a three-yard reception by Todd Watkins to move the chains. Brown took the ball again for a 4 yard carry, then John Beck hit Jonny Harline for an eight-yard strike. Harline then took a short pass to the outside for 12 yards. Beck then moved the chains with his feet, scrambling for 13 yards. Matt Allen brought down an eight-yard pass to give the ones a first down following two short gains by Brown. The drive stalled Beck was sacked for a six-yard loss, Zac Collie got 12 yards on second down and Fahu Tahi was dropped in the backfield by Cameron Jensen. Jared McLaughlin came on for a successful field goal attempt.

-Matt Berry then took the field with the twos against the twos on defense. Ray Hudson had a carry for three yards but then Berry was hurried and could not connect with Hudson and was sacked by Paul Walkenhorst on third down.

-John Beck then took the field again with the ones and promptly completed a 13 yard pass to Watkins. This was followed by an incompletion after which Beck hit Allen for a 23-yard strike down the middle of the field. After a couple of incompletions and a two-yard run by Fahu Tahi, Ryan Beck intercepted a pass that was tipped by Luettgerodt.

-Berry's second set with the twos against the twos was uneventful from the offense's perspective as he threw two incompletions and Hudson ran for a minimal gain.

-John Beck then took the field again with the ones against the threes on defense. After an incompletion he hit Reed with a 13-yard pass. Matt Allen then laid out and almost hauled in a long pass over the middle. Beck connected with Miekle across the middle for a 22-yard gain. After a nine-yard run by Fahu Tahi, Beck hit Zac Collie in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown pass.

-Berry then took the field with the twos against the twos again and immediately hit Ray Hudson out of the backfield twice for a nine and eight-yard gain respectively. Stephen Covey then intercepted his first ever pass making a diving grab on an underthrown ball.

-John Beck then took the field with the ones against the ones on defense and completed an eight-yard pass to Miekle. Beck then scrambled for 6 yards before Daniel Marquardt and Cameron Jensen stopped Tahi for no gain. After another pass to Miekle for 24 yards, Beck threw an incompletion that was brought about due to pressure from Marquardt. Curtis Brown was dropped again in the backfield on a running play for negative yardage by Manaia Brown and Marquardt, but then Beck hit Watkins in the back of the end zone for a 12 yard score which saw Watkins leap up and fully extend himself to snare the pass.

-Jason Beck took the field for the first time with the threes on offense against the twos on defense. Hudson opened it with a three-yard run, which was followed by a 12-yard pass to Joe Griffin. After a 27 yard pass to Andrew George, Hudson bounced a ball outside for minimal yardage. Corby Hodgkiss then made a nice play on Hudson holding him for one yard which was followed by Zac Erekson making a nice open field tackle on a flare pass to Hudson for zero yards. The drive ended with a ball thrown to Riley Weber which he dropped in what would have been a 20+ yard gain

-John Beck then took the field again with the ones against the ones on defense. After Luettgerodt tackled Tahi for a one yard loss, Beck hit Tahi out of the backfield for a 3 yard gain. On third down Beck again hit Tahi out of the backfield for a 13 yard gain. Aaron Wagner then chased down Curtis Brown in the backfield from behind for a two-yard loss. After a three-yard pass to Brown, Wagner again made his presence known hurrying Beck into an incompletion. After a six-yard run on a bootleg by John Beck Cameron Jensen busted through the line, dropping Miekle for a negative yard on an end-around run. John Beck then hit Miekle for a 19 yard pass which was followed by minimal gains running the ball with Brown and Tahi respectively in which Markell Staffieri filled the gap on both occasions. Beck then hit Reed for a five-yard touchdown strike.

Practice notes:

-The starting defensive line this scrimmage was Manaia Brown and Vince Feula at the defensive end positions with Marquardt at nose tackle. "We're looking to play our best eleven players on defense and there could be some other moves," said Coach Mendenhall. "To this point Manaia, Daniel Marquardt and Vince Feula we thought were performing best, so it was just an effort to get our three best guys out there and it will be the same in the secondary as you see some changes out there."

-The players running with the ones on defense were primarily the above stated defensive linemen, Cameron Jensen, Justin Luettgerodt, Aaron Wagner, Dustin Gabriel, K.C. Bills, Ryan Beck, Justin Robinson and Nate Soelberg as Spencer White and Kayle Buchanan were held out due to injury

-The twos on defense were primarily a TJ Sitake, Kyle Luekenga and Justin Maddux on the defensive line with Paul Walkenhorst, Dan Bates and Richard Nehring at linebacker. The secondary included Zac Erekson, Corby Hodgkiss, Stephen Covey, Leo Christenson and O'neil Howell with Gary Lovely getting reps with the ones and twos during third and long situations. Brandon Howard got some reps with the twos as well. -Ray Feinga, Dallas Reynolds and Terrance Brown all got reps with the ones on the offensive line as Kuresa saw minimal action.

-Former BYU player and recent Arizona State transfer Michael Marquardt was in attendance at today's scrimmage.

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