Scrimmage #2 Report

Saturday's scrimmage took on a different purpose than the first one last Saturday as the team closes in on its opening date against the Arizona Wildcats. The second scrimmage saw sharper execution on both sides of the ball and Total Blue Sports was there to give you the scoop.

"This day wasn't about 1s against 1s, and it wasn't about the execution of each unit," said head coach Bronco Mendenhall. "It was a lot of personnel identification, especially for key backup roles, possible special teams contributors, and in establishing some depth."

First Set

Max Hall took the first-team offense and drove them clear down to the 12-yard line, where kicker Brian Smith capped off the drive with a 32-yard field goal. Hall hit on all 4 of his passes during the set for 30 yards. Returner Bryce Mahuika started the offense at about midfield after he took the opening kickoff about 50 yards.

"We came out strong," said center Sete Aulai. "I feel that we set a good tone and guys were working together well from the get-go."

Hall's passes included a 16-yard pass to Manase Tonga and a 9-yard pass to running back Harvey Unga, as running backs were again featured prominently both running the ball and catching the ball out of the backfield. The drive was stalled when Hall was forced to run as all passing options were shut down on third down.

Second Set

Brendan Gaskins then saw the field for the second set of reps as he guided the second-team offense against the second-team defenders. Gaskins hit on 6 of his 7 passes during the set for 27 yards. Running back Wayne Latu was featured during this set, as he rushed the ball twice for 24 yards. Freshman wide receiver Jordan Smith also caught 2 passes for a combined 9 yards during the set.

"We're having guys step up in every unit," said Aulai. "When Fui [Vakapuna], Harvey or Manase aren't back there, we have guys like Wayne Latu who get it done. We're very deep and I think we showed that today."

Smith missed a field goal from 43 yards out to close out the set. Smith was kicking in place of Mitch Payne who was held out of the scrimmage due to tendonitis issues.

Third Set

The third set saw Hall take the field again, driving the team effectively before being stalled just short of the goal line. Hall hit on all 3 of his passes for 54 yards during the set, which included a 32-yard pass to receiver Matt Allen. On that play, Allen laid out parallel to the ground to haul in the pass.

Fourth Set

The fourth set saw Gaskins take the field again, where he went 1-for-2 for 10 yards on a pass to Allen. Linebacker Austen Jorgensen recorded a sack during the set, while punter C.J. Santiago had a nice 48-yard punt with good hang time to close out the set.

Final Set

The final set saw Hall go 3-for-5 for 29 yards, with passes to Reed White, Mahuika and Tonga. Unga capped off the set with a run of 28 yards, in which he waited patiently in the hole for his blocks to develop before bouncing it outside and outrunning the secondary for the only touchdown of the day.

"I've been very impressed with Harvey," said Mendenhall. "One of the things we addressed today was ball security. Up until today, during two-a-days there have been no fumbles, which is a pretty remarkable thing. We had the chance to teach him about ball security today."

Newbie Watch

It's crunch-time for those true freshmen who want to contribute right away this year, as redshirts will soon be given out to various players on the team.

"It's time for us to really pressure the players in regards to their execution if they want to be a backup this year," said Mendenhall. "Our focus today was to see who was ready and who isn't ready, and [from] what I saw today, the execution, especially defensively, [showed] that there are some players who need some work still."

One of those players being looked at closely is cornerback and now kick returner G Pittman, who has caught the eye of Mendenhall as he looks at how to use Pittman this season and in the coming years.

"We like what we've seen from [Pittman] so far. [Not only do I think he'll] be a very, very good field corner in this program, but we've seen some things with him returning kicks that we've liked. So his role on the team is increasing, [and] we'll be making a decision soon on how we're going to use him this coming year."

Hooks to Rejoin the Team

Linebacker Terrance Hooks will be rejoining the team this coming Monday or Tuesday as he finishes up his work diversion program, according to Mendenhall.

"Our team is anxious for him to come back," said Mendenhall regarding Hooks. "It's never been an issue that we don't love or support him or that we don't feel he's a valuable team member. We acknowledge that he made a mistake and I believe that he's done everything he's been asked to do. He's anxious to get back and we're all glad to see him back. I hope this sees the program fall forward, [and] that if you make mistakes you correct them and then you have a chance as a program to not look back at that mistake, but to get better."

The Most Important Thing

Following the scrimmage, the team gathered around some special guests and ended with a rousing edition of BYU's fight song.

"Vic So'oto was approached by one of the members of the bishopric in his ward about a family that was struggling," explained Mendenhall. "A father with a brain tumor, a mother with breast cancer and a son with leukemia all in the same family, and Vic took it upon himself to stand up in front of our team and invite the family here. He organized that and had a flag signed and a helmet to help other people."

Mendenhall readily noted how impressed he was with So'oto making the event happen, and felt that regardless of what happened during the scrimmage, what closed it out may have been the most important thing.

"I think if I were to say what was the most important thing of the day, it's that," said Mendenhall. "Even though we had a scrimmage and that we're concluding fall camp, that he would have that mindset and perspective adds a lot of value to our program and hopefully to that family's life."


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