Spring Scrimmage Starts Off With a Bang

On Friday the Cougars took the field in full pads and loaded with emotion. There was plenty of action, both offensively and defensively, to go along with the physical, high-energy play of the spring's first full-contact scrimmage.

On Friday the teams took their side of the field in the first full-contact showdown of spring practice. The first-team offense lead by Max Hall, Dennis Pitta, Harvey Unga and a revamped offensive line faced off against the first-team defense led by Jan Jorgensen, Russell Tialavea, Brandon Bradley and Terrence Hooks, among others.

"It was really good from the get-go," said Unga. "Then we had that little spark in the middle of it. I think what happened after that little incident was our guys got really fired up because of that. It was rough having to do all of those up-downs because of it.

The "little spark" Unga referred to that lead to the entire team down up-downs until Coach Mendenhall was satisfied came during the fifth play of the scrimmage. Tight end Andrew George caught a pass from Hall and was immediately decleated by safety Scott Johnson. The hit led to a scuffle between some members of the offense and defensive units.

"That really fired us up and we felt like we had to come back out strong onto the field strong and battle," Unga said. "A lot of guys see this as a competition and when the defense put up some points up on the board we took that into consideration and wanted to go at them. I thought it was awesome."

Unga saw limited action, only carrying the ball twice. But, those two carries yielded 50 yards and one touchdown. On the touchdown run, Unga busted to the outside and outran the defense to the end zone. The run by Unga was a thing of beauty to watch as the 245-pound running back elegantly dashed his way past defenders.

"As running backs, I thought we had an awesome day today," said Unga. "I thought we ran hard and [were] able to have some success running and catching the ball. I thought our young guys did a great job out there today."

One aspect of BYU's offense that performed admirably was the offensive line that features four new starters in Nick Alletto, Terrance Brown, R.J. Willing and Jason Speredon joining sophomore starter Matt Reynolds.

"I thought they did a great job today," said Unga of the offensive line. "It was kind of night and day from the beginning of spring practice to now. Guys are really moving well up front and they're playing with a lot of poise up there. They played as if they knew everything and knew where to be and how to get there. I was really impressed by the offensive line today and I'm very proud of them."

The Cougar faithful will be pleased to hear that not only did the first-team offensive line perform well, but the second-team offensive line got into the action as well. Unga was complimentary of them and other players.

"Max had a great day today and I though Brenden [Gaskins] also had a good day today," Unga said. "Both offensive lines on the first and second team had an awesome day today. All-around I thought everyone had an awesome day today. The big guys up front were making some great blocks up there. I felt good about today's performance. I felt the defense gave us a good look out there and we just got after it."

Hall completed 7-of-13 passes for 84 yards. Gaskins meanwhile completed 5-of-7 for 46 yards and one touchdown. Freshman Malosi Te'o had an impressive day, busting 20 yards on two carries on back-to-back plays. Sophomore running back J.J. Diluigi also got in the action both on the ground and through the air. The offense scored three touchdowns during the scrimmage, one of which came by way of Diluigi busting through the line for a 10-yard scamper.

"J.J. is a phenomenal athlete and a great kid," Unga said with a smile. "He's got great feet and good hands and is tough when he runs the ball. I'm really proud of J.J. and think he's having a great spring camp. As we continue along he's only going to get better and better and I'm very proud of him and how he's coming along."

On the defensive side of the ball there were also things to note. Aside from Scott Johnson's massive hit over the middle, outside linebacker Jordan Pendleton laid a nice hit on one of the running backs for a loss of yardage. Middle linebacker Terrence Hooks was able to shed a block to make a tackle on a running back, getting the defensive unit fired up.

Cornerback Steven Thomas intercepted a pass in the end zone. Safety Shiloah Te'o showed great instincts from his safety position in both run support and pass coverage.

Giving a report on Friday's scrimmage action is safety Andrew Rich.

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