Practice Report: 8/18

The offense and defense both made plays warranting comment in Monday's later practice session. However, the offense found the end zone on several occasions to get the leg up on the last day of two-a-days.

Max Hall took the field and instantly drove the offense downfield, but Monday's evening practice session wasn't a normal routine for the Cougar offense. Coach Mendenhall and his staff had implemented a new two minute drill offense and quarterback scramble twist.

"The two minute situation went well, especially in the scramble rules where the quarterback is just trying to buy time and basically the receivers are all converting their routes downfield," said Mendenhall. "We made some progress with that I think."

Hall also mentioned following practice that the purpose of the new offensive package is to help buy him more time while receivers run designed routes at a deeper level downfield. So far the new package isn't very extensive but is flexible enough for coaches to be able to develop it once the basics are learned.

On the first series, Hall hit wide receiver Michael Reed for a 45-yard gain. Hall followed it up with a pass to Landon Jaussi to set the Cougars up within the blue zone. The first series ended with Hall going 3-of-3, including a touchdown toss to Dennis Pitta.

Gaskins Gets His Turn

Quarterback Brenden Gaskins took the field with the second-string offense for his chance to lead the Cougar offense in the scheme. Gaskins hit running back Wayne Latu for close to 10 yards and then followed that completion with another to walk-on wide receiver B.J. Peterson for a 5-yard gain.

After throwing the ball away due to great coverage by the defensive secondary downfield, Gaskins threw two incomplete passes. However, Gaskins would rebound to hit Jaussi for 35 yards downfield, setting up the offense on the 13-yard line.

The offense was then set back a few by a speed rush from defensive tackle Brock Richardson, who came away with the sack. To stop the clock, Gaskins spiked the ball to regroup the offense. Gaskins checked down his receivers and found a wide open Peterson, who came up just short of making the reception, one that would have been a touchdown. The series came to an end with a Brett Denney sack.

Gaskins was named the second-string quarterback on Monday.

"He has a slight edge as of today," said Mendenhall of Gaskins. "Brenden Gaskins is our number two quarterback. It was very close and that's what our staff has decided.

"Gaskins was decided between practices today. The offensive staff met after this morning's practice and then informed me of the decision before the second practice."

Gaskins went 3-of-7 for 50 yards at his first attempt running the new offensive drill.

After a slow start to begin the first string's second series running the new offensive drill, Hall hit Pitta downfield for nearly a first down, but the Cougar defense wasn't going to give up so easily. David Nixon came off the edge to catch Hall from behind for the sack. The secondary faired well in coverage and allowed Nixon time to pursue Hall for the loss.

Outside linebacker Vic So'oto followed up Nixon's previous standout play with one of his own. This time the play came while So'oto dropped back into coverage and batted down a ball intended for tight end Kaneakua Friel, who was playing in place of a dinged up Andrew George. So'oto broke on the pass and was able to leap up and smack the ball away just before Friel was able to reach it.

The next play ended with Hall hitting Jaussi for 15 yards, which set up a touchdown pass to Reed White from 30-yards out. White made a great catch in traffic, hauling in the ball that was just out of reach of two defenders converging on the play. Offensive players standing on the sidelines applauded White's catch and scamper into the end zone.

For Gaskins' second attempt, he came out and hit White for 20-plus yards and followed that up with a completion to Peterson. The series came to an end with Brandon Bradley coming up with a textbook interception while covering his receiver downfield.

Cougars to Hold Scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium

BYU will hold a scrimmage on Wednesday, but the exact details of the scrimmage have yet been determined.

"I'm not sure how many plays nor what situations we'll construct," Mendenhall said. "My plan is to focus on the younger players and special teams."

Ah You Cleared and Back in Action

Matt Ah You was back in action for Monday evening's practice and seemed like his old self again. The junior linebacker took the field and didn't seem to miss a beat.

"He was back out today and had an MRI and that came back clean," said Coach Mendenhall. "It's just a strength issue now and getting his neck to where he can handle the physical part of the game."

New BYU General Assistant Coach

Cougar fullback Kelly Bills has expressed an interest in being part of the Cougar assistant coaching staff. Coach Mendenhall has taken a closer look into the possibility of bringing Bills onto the staff.

"Hopefully we can integrate him into the program as a student assistant," Mendenhall said. "He wants to pursue coaching and he feels passionate about staying in the program and learning that part of it, so I think we can use him in that regard. I talked to compliance today and so it looks like it's all going to work out."

Kelly Bills will hang up his playing cleats and wear the white and blue as a future BYU general assistant coach. It's a move that Coach Mendenhall feels pleased and passionate about.

"They're good football players and really tough young men and great kids," said Mendenhall regarding both K.C. and Kelly Bills. "I think if they didn't try so hard and weren't so tough it wouldn't have hurt me or them so bad. They really care about the program and I'm excited for the next two [Bills brothers] to come and then for the role that Kelly can play. I think they all look towards K.C. for advice and they've just been a pleasure to coach."

Team Leaders Chosen

The Cougar team leaders were chosen Monday by the team. They include quarterback Max Hall, defensive end Jan Jorgensen, linebacker David Nixon and offensive lineman Travis Bright. Coach Mendenhall is very pleased with the choices made by his team.

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