Cougars' Scrimmage to Solidify Depth

At LaVell Edwards Stadium on Wednesday the BYU coaches gathered their nationally ranked Cougars in an effort to establish and solidify the depth chart. The results of Wednesday's effort may have left Coach Mendenhall and his staff scratching their heads even more.

After coming off one of the best practices the Cougars have had during fall camp, the results of Wednesday's performance not only disappointed Coach Mendenhall, but also may not have accomplished what the staff was looking for.

"The purpose of today was to see who knew what was going on as far as the backups," said freshman cornerback Cameron Comer. "The coaches wanted to see who would show up and if they were ready to go if they had the chance to play."

"The first team didn't get many reps and we kind of know what they can do," said outside linebacker David Nixon. "The biggest thing today was to get the twos, threes and fours some reps to see how they're going to perform. Today was the last day of live hitting, and starting tomorrow and Friday they're going to start solidifying the … two-deep rosters."

The second-, third- and fourth-team units saw most of the reps in Wednesday's scrimmage, while the first-team units saw little action. The defensive units fared better in the live scrimmage, keeping the offense out of the end zone all but once. The lone score came on a Steven Covey scramble within the blue zone.

"It was a crucial day today," Nixon said. "It was a day to see how those guys who are on the border of things … step up. Some did and some didn't and this was the time for them to separate themselves from the pack. Now we'll go back and watch film to see how it went."

The length of time it has taken the coaches to solidify a two-deep roster is primarily due to depth at key positions on the team. The cornerbacks, defensive line and linebackers, as well as some areas on special teams, were the primary focus of Wednesday.

"You know, it's kind of crazy because some guys get better, some guys keep the momentum going, while some guys lose it," said Nixon. "Coach Mendenhall has to trust each guy out there on the field. If one guy breaks down, then the whole team is in trouble. He has to figure out how to field a team with players he can trust.

"I think some of the issues stem from great competition from guys competing in specific spots. They're really pushing one another, and I think it's a great problem to have trying to figure out who is the best player. The coaches are going to put the best players on the field and go from there.

"One of the purposes for today was many guys are tired with it being the end of camp, so to see which guys can perform and which guys couldn't under these circumstances will help him know what he has to work with."

One area of concern was the breakdown in punt protection by the second-team unit. Rushing BYU wide receiver Landon Jaussi was able to block multiple punt attempts by senior C.J. Santiago.

"It was the same purpose with the special teams," Comer said. "The purpose was to see if guys were ready to perform in a backup role and if they were paying attention during team meetings. I think we learned from today that you better come ready in case you're called on to go out there."

The results of the special teams performance was rather shocking, to put it mildly. The defense managed to block every punt but one. Coach Tidwell was soon out on the field giving further instructions to the backup special teams players in an effort to help quickly fix the blocking issues.

"Coach Mendenhall was definitely not happy about that," said Comer. "You have to know what you're doing at all times and that was something Coach Mendenhall was not happy about. I think that's going to be something they'll take a closer look at and work on with us."

"There was some lack of execution," Nixon said. "In the end I think we learned a lot about our team today. I think overall when we had execution problems today, I think Coach Mendenhall and the rest of the staff are going to see that even though there were some problems, guys were still trying. We still had guys flying around and that's the biggest thing. As a BYU team, I think the coaches will look at the film and say, ‘Man, those guys were trying hard. They made mistakes but they didn't give up.' Those are some of the things that this team prides itself on."

Junior cornerback Brandon Howard received a few reps with the first team but was primarily held out of much of the live scrimmage. Howard shared his perspective of the scrimmage with Total Blue Sports.

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