Fall Camp Ends With One Last Evaluation

The 2010 Cougar fall camp has finally come to a close, and the team will start focusing away from itself and towards its first opponent of the season. Although Cougar coaches got a good look at what they have, they have yet to solidifying a depth chart.

Wednesday's full-padded scrimmage was essentially a final opportunity for coaches to analyze their players.

"Well, today the coaches wanted to get the younger guys in there to see if they're going to redshirt them or be on the scout team or be able to travel," said cornerback Corby Eason. "Today was mostly for the young guys."

"Today was our last chance, I guess," said offensive lineman Walter Kahaiali'i. "We were having player evaluations today and I guess this was our last chance before we play Washington. Tomorrow we start a Monday practice and prep for Washington, so today was just our last day of fall camp to make a statement for the coaches and get better."

Many of the offensive coaches took to the balcony of the Student Athletic Building for a booth-like view of the field. With headsets on, Coach Anae and other members of the staff were able to call down plays to the sidelines as players were quickly rotated in and out.

"This was mostly for the younger guys today and I think a lot of what we were doing was to see how they would respond," said Ashworth. "We went into a really fast pace mode while subbing young guys in and out really quickly. The idea, I think, was to see where they were at mentally. I think it's something that we need to improve upon a little bit, as you could probably tell. I think we learned a lot about our younger guys and the coaches will go back and look at the film."

The longest series of Wednesday's scrimmage totaled 16 plays, with Jake Heaps in at quarterback. However, three of those 16 plays were nullified due to offensive penalties, mostly from mental mistakes as offensive coaches pushed the tempo and put stress on newer players to see how they would respond.

"We put in a lot of new stuff for these young guys and put in a lot of new formations and pushed the tempo," said Ashworth. "We got some penalties from that, but I think today was a really good measuring stick to see where we are at for the end of fall camp."

Defensively, some of the younger players that made some noise in Wednesday's final evaluation were Kyle Van Noy, Jordan Johnson, Kori Gaines, Zac Stout, Connell Hess and Austin Jorgensen.

"Jordan Johnson caught my eye today," said Eason. "He came out there today and did really well and battled hard. I think he's going to come around and he's going to be a great player. I also saw Kori Gaines, and he's from Georgia. I saw him doing things out there and he was making plays too, so those two young guys in our secondary really showed up today. I feel really comfortable with those two young guys and you can see how they're coming along."

Although he missed most of fall camp, running back Drew Phillips received a small opportunity during the scrimmage. Phillips was involved in both the running and passing game, catching a long pass from Nelson and running the ball three times and picking up a first down to keep the drive alive.

"Oh yeah, Drew Phillips got a chance today and I was holding my breath every time he got the ball," Eason said. "I was waiting for him to get into the open field so I could see him do some shaking out there. I know he's pretty fast and I heard he broke some track records down there in Alabama. On one play he was running too fast before he got the ball and tripped up a bit. I was thinking, 'Wow, it's a good thing because if had gotten outside to the edge it would have been ugly.'"

Heaps and fellow true freshman Joshua Quezada hooked up three consecutive times in one series to keep their drive alive. This was good to see since Quezada, who raised some eyebrows with a quick and impressive start in spring camp, had sort of tapered off. Over the last couple of weeks of fall camp, he started to show flashes of his old self again.

"Josh showed a lot during the spring," Eason said. "He really showed up with the first team then, and I didn't really know what was going on with him during fall camp. I mean, he was doing good but not like he was during spring camp. He kind of seemed like a different guy, but then he just started turning it on towards the end of fall camp. It was like he was two different guys. I think he'll be good and he did a good job today."

In evaluating specific offensive performances, one of the more noticeable improvements over fall camp was how Heaps and Nelson were been able to manage tempo.

"At the beginning of camp we weren't able to go as fast as we wanted, but now we've made great steps in that situation," Ashworth said. "As far as the receivers go, I think the coaches trust us with the new approach in how we as inside receivers and outside receivers will approach things. I think the coaches are testing some of our new guys in how we're doing things. I think as a whole we've done well so far, and sure, there are some things we need to improve on, but we're moving in the right direction."

Heaps played in four of Wednesday's offensive series, while Nelson played in two. No final decision has been made by Coach Mendenhall as to who will be the starter against Washington on September 4.

"It might be a case where [the coaches] know what they're going to do and we don't," said outside linebacker Jordan Pendleton. "I don't know, but the fact that they haven't been able to make a final decision shows that both Riley and Jake have been playing really well. Both have shown really good things out there, and either way in what the final decision may be, I think both of them will play. That's my gut feeling."

Meanwhile, there is no question that BYU's offensive line is as deep and talented as it's ever been in years.

"I think for the most part, the offensive line is pretty solid," said Matt Reynolds. "I think there are about six, seven and even eight of us that will see some time on the offensive line this year. We're just really, really deep and have great talented guys. I can see some guys rotating in to keep us fresh out there."

Now that the final scrimmage is done with, the coaches will be calling players into their offices for a personal interview. This more than likely will be when players learn what their level of involvement with the team will be.

Sideline Notes

Speedy walk-on defensive end Ezekiel Ansah recorded a sack Wednesday in what was his first sack during fall practice. Ansah was able to get past an offensive tackle and motored towards the quarterback.

Sophomore linebacker Connell Hess recorded two sacks on the day.

Tight end Marcus Mathews had the catch of the day when he went up between two defenders and made a one-handed grab while being sandwiched. Mathews came down with the ball, to the cheer of his offensive teammates.

Linebacker Brandon Ogletree recorded an interception in the blue zone.

Tight end Devin Mahina had a boot on his leg Wednesday after suffering a sprained ankle during Tuesday's practice. He was scooting around the field and sidelines on a cart.

Heaps hooked up with Ross Apo on a deep pass, fittingly ending fall camp with a touchdown.

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