TBS Fall Practice Report Day Five

Today was the first full pads practice of the fall, but the addition of the extra protection did not seem to give one side an advantage over the other. The tug of war between offense and defense continued in a stale mate. There was some movement on the depth chart, thought, due to injuries and a position switch.

Last spring the offense imposed its will on a defense that was learning a new scheme. Halfway through spring the defense stiffened up and gave the offense a challenge. So far, neither side has established itself as the supreme force on the practice field. The news out of fall camp so far is how tough the Cougar defense has been playing.

"I think we're playing extremely well on third downs, and we're keeping the offense out of the end zone," said BYU inside linebacker Cameron Jensen. "Even at the end after the first team offense got put in after the second team drove down on the three yard line against the [third string defense], we still kept them out of the end zone. I think we're playing extremely well as a group, people are doing their assignments and people are making plays, so I'm really excited with how the defense has improved."

Cameron "The General" Jensen is right. Either this defense is just getting lucky, or the unit has some talent coming out, and the coaches are using it to the best of their abilities. In evaluating the overall defensive fall circumstances, I would say the later is the case which should please many BYU fans.

"These linebackers are great," said Jensen. "Bryan Kehl – he's on my side of the field – he's controlling the edge and taking on blockers, and it's the same with Chris Bolden. Iit's good to have them when they're up on the line because they can hold that edge which keeps me free to move to the ball. Having players like them just makes me better, and it's great playing along side of them."

During his first day of practice, Chris Bolden nearly had five sacks on the day. He ended up with three sacks and two quarterback hurries on the day. He continued to harass the quarterbacks with the first team defense as did Bryan Kehl.

On the second scrimmage series, Kehl recorded a sack and followed it up with a tackle on Ray Hudson in the backfield two plays later. Kehl's ability to stretch the line of scrimmage against the run and cover the flats has been very impressive thus far during spring.

"I think we are going to surprise a lot of people on defense," said a smiling Kehl. "People already know the offense is good and that we're going to come out and get yards and score a lot of points like we did last year, but few expect the defense to be any good. We're going to surprise people on defense."

Scrimmage Highlights

The coaches had positions from various levels of the depth charts playing together. Often times the second string defense backs group would scrimmage with the first team linebacking corps, and the second string defensive line group would be scrimmaging with the first team defensive backs group.

Here are some highlights from the day:

- DE Judd Anderton stopped Curtis Brown run for a loss.

- RB Harvey Unga broke out again with a couple of nice runs and continues to show why he was a hotly contested recruit out of Timpview High School. His first carry resulted in a scamper to the outside where he was forced out of bounds after a 10 yard pick up. His second carry saw him weaving through the line of scrimmage for an 11 yard pick up.

- Following a pass break up by Cole Miyahira, QB John Beck completed a nice pass to freshman receiver McKay Jacobson for a 20 yard gain.

- Outside linebacker David Nixon tackled Isaac Taylor for a loss in the backfield.

- Ray Hudson busted through the line of scrimmage for a 15-yard scamper.

- QB John Beck threw a nice 32-yard pass to junior wide receiver Matt Allen for a touchdown.

- The defense stiffened up and kept the first team offense out of the end zone on a goal line stand to end the short scrimmage series.

PT with the Ones

Cornerbacks Brandon Howard and Ben Criddle got most of the reps with the first team defensive backs group today and faired rather well against BYU's first and second team offenses.

"Oh it was fun," said an excited Brandon Howard. "I came into fall playing with the second team, but knew I had to get myself mentally prepared because stuff happens like it has this past week. You just have to be ready to go with the first team no matter where you are and what happens. I was mentally prepared for it and I worked hard and did my job, and tried to stay out there as long as possible."

Howard played in place of Justin Robinson during today's full contact scrimmage.

"I think Justin [Robinson] hadn't been feeling well and I'm not sure what's going on with him," said Howard. "I just noticed he was sitting out and wasn't able to go and since I was the next guy I came in and played."

"I was taking reps with the ones and twos out there today and as a whole the defense is just having fun out there," said Criddle. "We just go out there every day with the mindset of improving and that's what we're here to do. I'm just excited I get the chance to be a part of this team at BYU."

Safety Cole Miyahira also scrimmaged with the first team defense in place of Dustin Gabriel who is nursing a nagging injury.

"Today I practiced with the ones," said Miyahira. "Gabriel went out with a sore hamstring. The defense is learning as a whole. I also think there is some positive pressure from some of the newer guys from the high school and junior college levels that have really pushed the secondary. Some within the incoming class have come in ready to play, and I think we're going to have a lot more people set up this year. I think we'll have a lot more people stand out on defense this year than the guys everyone expects to stand out this year."

Making A Switch?

He was a star Utah running back in high school, but had been playing defensive safety for the first four days of fall. Today, Mike Hague switched from safety to the "H" position on offense.

"Coach Mendenhall called me into his office and told me where the needs are, and that was probably at "H" back, and that I should learn the system and get to know it," said Hague. "It's a good switch and I feel a lot more natural there. The defense was coming to me but whatever the coaches do right now is a good thing, and they're doing what ever they can to help the team, and that's what I want to do. I'll do what ever is needed to help the team and play anywhere I have to.

"Right now I'm just going to learn the whole offense and play where ever they need me and just see where I end up. I got a few reps running some routs out of the backfield. That came naturally to me, and it felt good. I'm happy with the switch and offense just feels much more natural for me, and I didn't really play too much defense my senior year."

Don't Press the Panic Button!

It was the first day of full padded scrimmage and that usually means there is a risk of injury. On the second play of the scrimmage, offensive guard Ray Feinga suffered an injury on a sweep play where a few defenders landed on him. He sat out the rest of scrimmage.

Defensive tackle Kyle Luekenga also suffered a leg injury but the extent of the injury is not known at this time. He was seen walking and said that he would be having an x-ray on it later.

"I don't know how bad it is but I'll go until the wheel falls off if I have to," said Luekenga.

Linebacker Markell Staffieri, who suffered a leg injury yesterday, was partially suited up and was seen walking around today.

Offensive tackle Dallas Reynolds also suffered a minor injury during the scrimmage. He stayed suited up, but did not continue with the day's scrimmage.

Surprise Guest BYU coaching legend LaVell Edwards was on hand today to watch the full padded scrimmage from the sidelines. He was visibly happy with the overall performance of the team and his usually stern face even cracked into a few smiles. Following media interviews, Bronco Mendenhall spoke at great length with Edwards in a private conversation.

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