Friday's BYU Scrimmage Report

On a sunny spring day at LaVell Edwards Stadium, the Cougars of BYU gathered on the field for their first full-padded and full-contact team scrimmage. Total Blue Sports was on hand in full force to watch it all unfold with many high school coaches from around the country.

Prior to today's full padded scrimmage, Coach Mendenhall and his Cougar staff held another coach's clinic today that involved coaches from both in and out of state. J.J. DiLuigi's coach at Canyon High School, Harry Welch, was one of the main speakers, along with others such as head coach Monte Nash from Grant Union High School in Sacramento, Calif. and Bryce Monsen from Temple High School in Texas.

Coach Bryce Monsen of Temple High School is an LDS coach that has coached at Temple High School for nine years, and was made head coach and athletic director in 2005. Monsen has ties to BYU and had a brief career as a Cougar as a walk-on. He is a graduate of BYU and has previous ties to both Coach Tidwell and Coach Mendenhall.

Today's activities started off with normal daily practice procedures. All the usual pursuit drills, pad drills and light skeli drills were first, but afterwards the referees came out and the team split up and took their various sides of the field.

Offensive Observations

Max Hall and Austin Collie started off spring's full-padded scrimmage with a look of things to come. Hall hit Collie in stride on a deep route in which Collie took the ball to the house. To start off the first series, Hall was 2-of-2 for around 80 yards and one touchdown. Not a bad start for the sophomore quarterback's first full scrimmage series, which took only two plays to get into the end zone.

If anyone has any reservations about Collie's speed, Hall's arm strength or the small yards-per-catch average reminiscent of earlier practices, maybe this will help ease that perception a little.

Cade Cooper had a decent day today and showed that he is gaining a better understanding of the offense. Rather than dumping the ball off to his safety valve or throwing the quick short pass, Cooper used more of the offense and spread the ball around more. Although there were a few turnovers, Cooper is also hitting his receivers more in stride and more frequently. The connection between him and his receivers are becoming more apparent as practices wear on.

Wayne Latu ran well and showed his speed on several occasions, and was able to bob and weave his way past defenders for moderate-to-substantial running gains. However, the tailback that caught one's eye today came after Ray Hudson showed just as much aggressiveness running up the middle without hesitation as he does when running on the outside. In the past, Hudson had been very reserved about hitting the holes between the tackles and this is possibly one of the reasons why he's failed to gain starting time. However, today he ran with authority, which was a nice surprise on the day from the tailback from Texas.

A walk-on running back that faired well today was 5-foot-11-inch, 215 pound David Foote from Pineview High School in St. George. Foote received some reps and showed good balance, staying on his feet after being hit and getting additional yardage.

When talking about backs, one can not forget Mr. Utility: Manase Tonga. Tonga is probably the most rounded running back in BYU's arsenal at this point in time. He can pass block, run the ball and has the fastest catch and run up field moves on the team. He also dished out some punishment on a run up the middle on a few linebackers in the middle of a gang tackle. Simply put, BYU is lucky the U of U didn't hold a scholarship for the former Aragon High School most valuable player.

Big offensive linemen R.J. Willing, who is playing in Dallas Reynold's position while he rehabs an injury suffered from last year, played very well at the left offensive tackle position. Just fresh off a LDS mission, Willing was faced with the daunting challenge of blocking last year's freshmen d-line sensation Jan Jorgensen. He also faced the difficult task of getting out of his stance and in position in time to block blitzing outside linebacker Chris Bolden off the edge. The national top-100 offensive line prospect out of Oahu, Hawaii showed why he started as a redshirt freshman before serving his mission.

From the tight end spot Vic So'oto caught a few passes against the first team defense. So'oto is big and physical and possesses the speed to spread the linebackers out, and can block on the line when called upon. With So'oto, defensive coaches will no longer be able to curtail their defensive schemes based which tight end is current in simply because he can run, catch and block within any offensive formation involving the tight end.

Sophomore tight end Vic So'oto talks about today's scrimmage results:

Defensive Observations

There were two noticeably positive defensive results from today's scrimmage. One was how aggressive and hard the defense was hitting the offense. The speed, tenacity and aggressive persona of Coach Mendenhall's defense, now in their second year with the 3-4-4, was visibly noticeable. Everyone from the defensive line, to a faster core of linebackers, to a secondary that is full of headhunters made their presence known today because of their physical play. Chris Warner was involved in a bone crushing hit that left the junior safety being helped off the field. On several occasions the defense separated the ball from offensive players, which leads to the second noticeable result from today.

It was very surprising to see how many turnovers the defense caused throughout today's scrimmage. Linebacker Dan Van Sweden took a turnover and ran it back for a touchdown. Walk-on cornerback Scott Johnson intercepted a pass and also ran it back for a touchdown after breaking several tackles. There were other turnovers as well after hard hits from BYU's middle linebackers, who are a faster group over last year's amazing cast.

Listen to defensive tackle Jan Jorgensen talk about today's scrimmage:


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