BYU football: Mendenhall says team 'on the right track' following Thursday scrimmage
Ravell Call, Deseret News
PROVO — BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall was upbeat, even a bit chipper, following Thursday's scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Thursday. He expressed pleasure with how his team performed and where his team is overall as the Cougars near the conclusion of fall camp.
In a move somewhat out of character, Mendenhall decided to have fun with the scrimmage. He divided the team up with the 1s available to play on offense teaming up with the 2s on defense and vice versa for the other squad.
"We had a little fun dividing the coaches up and eliminating players that we didn't think needed to play," said Mendenhall. "We made a quick call after our staff meeting to have guest or celebrity coaches with Chad (Lewis) and Curtis Brown … it was fun and it was good to have guys cheering for each other a little bit."
The scrimmage concluded with the defense snuffing out an attempted fourth-down play as the offense approached the end zone. Backup quarterback Jason Munns was forced out of the pocket and subsequently whistled dead as he neared the sidelines on the final play, which led to a lot of cheering on both sidelines.
The play typified what was largely an atypically fun and loose scrimmage.
"I was excited about the energy guys brought," said quarterback Riley Nelson. "Guys really cared and we'll have to watch the film as far as (how we) executed, but I felt like it went pretty sharp."
Nelson finished the scrimmage completing 10 of 16 passes for 169 yards, which included a 13-yard touchdown pass to Cody Hoffman.
"I felt pretty comfortable," said Nelson. "I missed a couple of throws, but I thought guys were making plays — JD (Falslev), Cody (Hoffman), Brett Thompson made a good play. When our running game is working like it was, then it makes the pass game pretty easy."
Indeed the running game and blocking upfront was what Mendenhall was most pleased about. For the first time since camp opened, BYU had all of its assumed starters available, which led to a lot of ground-game production.
Houston Reynolds assumed the starting role at center, flanked by Brock Stringham and Braden Hansen at the guards and Braden Brown and Ryker Mathews at tackle.
"It all starts up front and our guys are doing a real good (job) targeting and making sure they get a hat on a hat," said Nelson. "I was impressed with the push today and our backs are doing a good job staying patient and then exploding through the holes."
Leading the way on the ground was freshman Adam Hine, who finished with 13 rushes for 117 yards and a touchdown. David Foote contributed a couple of touchdowns and 19 yards on six rushes. Paul Lasike rushed the ball twice for 23 yards.
"I liked the offensive line and the running backs," noted Mendenhall. "I thought the running game looked really good and there were probably five or six yards a carry. David Foote is hard to tackle, Paul Lasike is hard to tackle, Adam Hine showed some potential and there was some good lead-blocking, so I liked that part a lot."
Michael Alisa was held out of the scrimmage along with true freshman Jamaal Williams, who stole the show the last time around. Hine seized upon his opportunity for increased reps in much the same way Alisa did at this time last year.
Alisa provided a "breakthrough" performance during last year's second scrimmage with then assumed starters JJ Di Luigi, Bryan Kariya and Joshua Quezada being held out. His performance that day was likely the catalyst for him earning primary ball-carrying duties midway through the season.
"I talk to Michael Alisa all the time and he always tells me and everyone else to make the most of our opportunities," said Hine. "Hopefully I did that today. I was excited for my opportunity because I knew I'd probably get some more carries."
After fumbling away his first run attempt of the day, Hine showed well in every aspect of his game.
"I thought he did a nice job," said Mendenhall. "(He showed) a little more breakaway than I think we've been able to see. You could see him get to the second level and then to make someone miss and then get away, so that was good."
The team will wrap up fall practices and then set its focus on Washington State. Overall Mendenhall likes where his team is.
"I'd say we're on the right track," said Mendenhall. "We have two more days to clean different things scheme-wise and then our attention shifts. So yeah, most of (camp) was to identify personnel, which I think we have a great handle on."
COUGARS CAMP REPORT
Day13: The team scrimmaged with full pads in front of boosters and team family members at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The scrimmage involved mostly second- and third-team players. The team will wrap up fall camp on Saturday and then begin game prep for Washington State.
Standouts: Freshman running back Adam Hine rushed the ball 13 times for 117 yards and a touchdown. His long run of the day was a 50-yard scamper, which set up one of the five touchdowns scored on the day.
James Lark had one of his best days of fall camp, completing six of eight passes for 60 yards and a 14-yard touchdown to receiver Kurt Henderson. JD Falslev contributed two receptions for 52 yards, while freshman Brett Thompson caught a 26-yard pass from Riley Nelson to set up a touchdown.
Injuries: Mendenhall held out many of his assumed starters and came out of the final scrimmage injury-free.
Overheard: "You kind of keep your fingers crossed, but we held out quite a few players to make sure that didn't happen." — Mendenhall on team's lack of injuries.
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