Scrimmage Report: Defense has Work to Do

The first scrimmage of fall camp featured two touchdowns drives by the first team offense that traveled the length of the field. As is the case in any scrimmage, success for one side means failure for the other. The defense left the 70-play scrimmage, frustrated by their attitude and performance.

"We're disappointed," said BYU linebacker Chris Bolden, "For the offense to come out and go the length of the field on us, that's unacceptable. That can't happen again and now we need to make strides to make sure on that."

First Drive

The featured back on the initial drive was freshman Harvey Unga as both Curtis Brown and Fui Vakapuna sat out the scrimmage. Unga rushed the ball four times for 12 yards in a drive that was topped off by a touchdown strike from John Beck to freshman McKay Jacobson from 20 yards out.

On the drive, Beck hit tight end Daniel Coats twice for 23 yards. Beck finished 4 of 5 passing for 63 yards. The defensive highlight on the drive was true freshman Matangi Tonga getting backfield penetration to drop Unga for a 1-yard loss.

Tonga is now getting reps with the ones, twos and threes as the defense rotated the line frequently seeing all sorts of different combinations with each unit.

"I officially moved up to the third team today, and now I just need to keep moving up," said Tonga. "It was an adjustment the first week, but now I'm confident in what I'm doing and my goal is to keep going. I want to play, and now that I'm practicing well, I just need to make sure I keep on improving every day."

Second Drive

The defense showed better on the second drive when Jason Beck stepped under center. Beck finished the series two for three for 18 yards, which included a 14-yard strike to Brett Cooper.

Ray Hudson was the featured back in the series and got the ball for two carries. Hudson was greeted rudely by linebacker Dan Bates in the backfield for a 4-yard loss then he managed a one-yard gain after being stood up by Brett Denney at the line of scrimmage. Denney also hurried Beck into making an incompletion that ended the series.

Third Drive

John Beck came back in and led the team to another touchdown. Unga bowled over linebacker Dan Van Sweden on a two-yard touchdown carry.

"That's football," said Unga, "He came at me hard and I just won that one. I hope he's okay, but that's football, people get their bell rung occasionally."

On the drive Beck has 28 yards on three for three passing. He found Coats again and also hit Jonny Harline and Hudson for passes of 9 and 12 yards respectively. Manase Tonga had the play of the drive juking linebacker Chris Bolden in the open field for an impressive 17-yard scamper. Hala Paongo recorded a sack on the drive.

"I know it was our first time going full-contact, but that's no excuse," said Bolden, "We can't have that. I'm disappointed with how I played and I'm disappointed with how we all played. That can't happen again."

Fourth Drive

The defense stood up to the offense on the fourth series. Kelly Poppinga deflected Jason Beck's first pass up into the air. Shawn Doman snagged the ball and took it to the end zone for a touchdown.

Ray Hudson had a couple of nice runs for seven yards and the series ended with a David Nixon sack.

Fifth Drive

Freshman Max Hall then took the spot under center and completed a couple of passes for 27 yards. On the drive, Jan Jorgenson recorded a sack holding the offense to just four plays and out.

Sixth Drive

John Beck took the field for the last time. Beck went two for two for 19 yards. Unga again shined, taking three rushes for 17 yards during the drive. The offense was building momentum before Zac Collie fumbled the ball after taking a Beck pass for 13 yards. Quinn Gooch made the hit that jarred the ball loose.

Seventh Drive

Jacob Bower then took the offense for five plays. He had two completions on three attempts for 27 yards. The defensive standout on the drive was Hala Paongo meeting Isaac Taylor in the backfield for a 1-yard loss.

Final Drive

James Lark then got the final reps and went five for seven for 42 yards. After two incompletions Lark bounced back with five straight completions. His favorite target was fellow freshman Mike Hague. After making the move to the H receiver position earlier this week, Hague caught three passes for 33 yards. On one play Hague hauled in a short pass then made two defenders miss and turned downfield for a big gain.

Standout Player

The standout player on defense was Matangi Tonga, who is not so quietly improving with every practice.

"I wasn't happy with the first few practices," said Tonga. "I got behind, but I'm working my way back up. Now that I know what I'm doing and just being adjusted to the altitude I'm able to be myself. It's getting easier for me. It's going great."

Defensive Concerns

Safety Quinn Gooch shared Bolden's concerns for the defense. Gooch felt the defensive performance was inexcusable even though it was only their first full contact scrimmage.

"We need to tackle better, we need to close better and we need to come out better," said Gooch. "We came out flat and that's unacceptable. We have a lot of improvement, I know I do.

"This is football and if you're getting beat out there, then you're getting beat. Yeah, it was the first full-contact drill, but it was the first one for the offense as well and they moved it up and down the field on us." "We're still confident," said linebacker Bryan Kehl, "We didn't perform as well as we like to, but we're going to take this and improve. I know this group and I know what we're capable of. We're still confident and we're going to be that much better taking the lessons we learned from today's scrimmage."

For Gooch and the rest of the defense, they are seeing much improvement from the spring and they are getting more and more comfortable with every practice.

"It's getting better," said Gooch. "We're more confident and we're more aggressive. We're going to be fine, but we have to improve, there's no question about that. Today showed that we're not where we need to be, but we'll get there."


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