Practice Report: Day 6

Today's practice saw more play-action and deep passes as the offense continues to open up the playbook in preparation for the coming season and for Saturday's scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Defending against a lot of those deep passes was cornerback Brandon Howard, who is competing hard for the starting field cornerback spot.

"It's great to be out there competing for the spot," said Brandon Howard. "I mean, this is all you want from the moment you arrive here. To have that opportunity now as a sophomore is all I could hope for right now. I aim to take full advantage of it and work even harder."

Howard got a lot of reps today with the 1s on defense an occasionally with the 2s, defending deeper passes than have generally been thrown during practices up to this point. Howard said that he's thankful for the work and for the offense testing the defense more.

"We want them to throw it all at us," said Howard. "It only makes us better and we need to learn better every day how to defend against whatever an offense may throw at us, so it was good."

Howard was tested deep on more than one occasion, one where he had seemingly perfect step-for-step coverage on receiver Austin Collie on a 28 yard pass up the sideline that went for a touchdown.

"I was mad about that one," said Howard. "I had good coverage, but not good enough because he got the ball. I need to make plays when I'm there, so that was disappointing. It's about making plays on the ball. If you're there and don't make the play, then so what? What good does it do? I need to make plays every time."

As Howard preps for Saturday's full-contact scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium, he wants to show an aspect of his game that he's been working on very hard since he arrived in Provo.

"I want to prove that I can tackle effectively," said Howard. "I've gained some weight and I'm not going to take out Fui [Vakapuna] or Harvey [Unga], but I just need to take them down. Whatever it takes is what I need to show. I need to show that I can get guys down when they run the ball my way."

11-on-11s

-Quarterback Max Hall went 2-for-2 for 8 yards during his first set, with passes to Manase Tonga and Andrew George. Defensive end Ian Dulan forced a three-and-out by meeting Vakapuna in the backfield for a loss of two yards on third down.

-The second set saw the offense get the ball into the endzone on the aforementioned 28-yard pass from Hall to Collie. Hall hit on all five of his passes during the set for a combined 70 yards. The biggest completion came on a 15-yard pass to tight end Vic So'oto on third down.

-A trio of standout defensive plays were made during the set. Both Markell Staffieri and Jan Jorgensen made plays in the backfield, forcing runs to be whistled dead for losses. It was following these two plays that Hall hit So'oto on third down to continue the drive. Austen Jorgensen also recorded a sack during the set.

-Hall's next set saw him going 3-for-5 for 60 yards, which included a 50-yard pass to Bryce Mahuika for a practice-ending touchdown.

"We're opening it up a bit," said Hall. "We're getting some more plays together so we can show and work on a lot of things tomorrow for the scrimmage. We're all really excited for the scrimmage and hopefully we'll get it into the endzone like we did today."

Newbie Watch

-Receiver Ryan Kessman caught a pass during 11-on-11 drills on a 14-yard out from quarterback James Lark.

-J.J. DiLuigi got a lot of work with the 3s and had a catch over the middle.

-The incoming cornerbacks continue to receive praise from their veteran counterparts.

"G Pittman has really good feet, I mean, really good," said Howard. "Brannon Brooks is really fast straight ahead, and wow, I can't believe how good these new guys are. They're really going to push me and Kayle [Buchanan] and the other guys. Yeah, G and Brannon are sweet. They're going to be really good."

Practice Notes

-Linebacker Kelly Bills went down with an apparent leg injury early on during practice, although the injury did not appear serious as Bills went out to rejoin the team.

- Mahuika saw work at the outside receiving position as he looks to expand his role in the offense. He looks to be the fourth outside receiver, behind the rotation of Austin Collie, Matt Allen and Michael Reed.


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