Spring Practice Switch Up

Today's practice got underway with new faces getting the chance to prove themselves before BYU coaches. Second-team performers received their chance to compete with the first-team units and visa versa.

On a grey-colored day that had blowing sleet and felt downright freezing, Coach Mendenhall and his staff elected to brave the elements and not use the Indoor Practice Facility. Coach Mendenhall was in his normal winter attire of shorts, T-shirt and hat with a whistle draped around his neck as if it were a normal spring day.

After the normal warm-up, pursuit, skeli and technique drills, the offensive and defensive units gathered together on opposite sides of the field to conclude the day's practice with a light scrimmage.

The first-team took the field with Snow J.C. transfer quarterback Cade Cooper taking the reigns. Cooper exclusively ran the first-team offensive unit while Max Hall ran the second-team unit as coaches watched and gauged their performances.

The first series under Cooper went fairly well as the junior quarterback hooked up with junior wide receiver Michael Reed often. Cooper hit Reed six times for around 23 yards. Two passes Reed caught went for little or no gain, as the defense was in place quickly to make the tag.

Tight end Andrew George made a nice grab of a Cooper pass during the first series for 18 yards for the longest catch of the series. Coming in second for the longest catch of the first series was Payson walk-on Daniel Tervort. Tervort caught a Cooper pass and was able to gain 13 yards before coaches blew the whistle.

The first series's drive ended when former Brighton High School cornerback walk-on Jeff Sorensen, the younger brother of BYU center Tom Sorensen, intercepted a tipped pass. Along with Sorensen's interception, another defensive standout play came when freshman defensive end Matt Putnam forced Cooper to step up and take a sack from Romney Fuga.

Now you can listen to tight end Andrew George give his thoughts on today's offensive performance on this cold day of practice.

Although today's conditions were not ideal, the offense under Cade Cooper showed good ball security and ball control. However, the defense did stiffen in the cold to keep the offense from scoring a single touchdown.

Fui Vakapuna, Manase Tonga and Ray Hudson did not participate. Tonga seemed to be a bit hobbled after Tuesday's hard hitting performance, so a bulk of today's carries with the first-team fell upon the shoulders of Harvey Unga, Ryan Folsom and David Foote.

Unga received the bulk of the carries with the first team offense and faired well under the conditions. Unga had the longest run of the day with a 19-yard scamper, bobbing and weaving between defenders until the coaches blew the whistle. Unga also ran off ten, five, four, six and seven-yard runs between and outside the tackles as BYU coaches got the running game more involved in today's light scrimmage.

To hear how Unga felt he did during today's scrimmage, click below.

Despite the running success of Harvey Unga, there were some defensive notables during the first offensive unit's second drive.

Inside linebacker Kelly Poppinga had a tackle for a loss. The defense followed up Poppinga's sack with a coverage sack on the second play. Not to be left out of the action, outside linebacker Dan Van Sweden also recorded a tackle for a loss after having rotated in. Van Sweden recorded an interception during skeli drills as well.

Following an 11-yard completion to walk-on Daniel Tervort and a five-yard run by Unga, senior Corby Hodgkiss sacked Cooper for a loss. Chris Bolden also recorded a tackle for a loss.

Playing on the second-team defense and against the second-team offense, Kelly Bills, the younger brother of former BYU linebacker K.C. Bills, recorded an interception on the day. Freshman and recently-returned missionary Grant Nelson also recorded a sack against the second-team offense.

Practice Tidbits

Kahuku High School's offensive coordinator Sterling Carvalho, along with Red Raider offensive line coach Garth Spurrier, was on hand during BYU's practice today. The Kahuku coaches have been in town to learn more from the Cougar coaching staff.

Also in town was Snow J.C. assistant coach and former BYU defensive linemen Dan Gerber. Gerber coaches the tight end position. Joining Gerber and also from Snow J.C. was offensive line coach John Hunter.

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