Michelle Tessier, Deseret News
PROVO — BYU’s offense wasn’t quite ready for prime time during Friday night’s scrimmage in front of about 12,000 fans at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
With two weeks to go before the Cougars visit Connecticut in the season-opener, BYU’s defense had the edge against the offense. The 12 offensive series featured penalties, turnovers, stalled drives and a couple of touchdowns.
What was offensive coordinator Robert Anae’s blunt assessment of the 70-play scrimmage?
"We’ve got to sharpen everybody up," Anae said. "I think the whole offense, it was kind of a wake-up call."
Quarterback Taysom Hill, who directed seven of those series, knows he and his teammates have to clean things up before taking on UConn.
“We were too sloppy offensively. I was disappointed in the way that we played as a whole,” he said. “There are some things we need to fix. I wasn't as sharp as I needed to be."
Hill completed 9 of 18 passes for 89 yards with one interception and one touchdown — a 21-yarder to wide receiver Kurt Henderson.
Backup quarterback Christian Stewart was 11 of 16 for 128 yards with one interception. Stewart also had a short touchdown run, and ran seven times for 20 yards.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall said Stewart “might have been the brightest spot” from the scrimmage.
“I turned at one point to our football ops person (Zach Nyborg) during the scrimmage and said, ‘Christian’s going to be really good,’ ” Mendenhall said. “That means as our backup quarterback, knowing the way teams are going to come after Taysom and the way and the volume he’s going to take, I feel a lot better now from what I saw from Christian.”
There’s been a lot of speculation lately that the reason Stewart has been receiving so many reps during fall camp is because he will see action against UConn.
“Probably not,” Mendenhall said when he was asked if there was a scenario he sees that would involve Stewart playing in the opener. “A lot of it just depends on how the game goes. That’s really hard to predict. My intent is to have Taysom go as long as he can go. That’s within reason. If he’s exhausted, if he’s beat up, if he’s tired, if there’s a huge lead maybe or a huge deficit, then possibly Stewart, but probably not from the beginning in terms of a third series or he’ll get a series in the third quarter or something like that. I don’t see that happening.”
Devon Blackmon led all receivers with five catches for 47 yards while Henderson finished with three grabs for 33 yards. Colby Pearson had three receptions for 17 yards. Running back Jamaal Williams picked up 42 yards on seven carries. Adam Hine rushed four times for 59 yards and Nate Carter ran six times for 33 yards.
Defensive back Garrett Juergens intercepted Hill while linebacker Michael Alisa recorded a pick off of Stewart.
The scrimmage featured a few chippy moments, and freshman offensive lineman Tejan Koroma was ejected for scuffling.
Did the defense win the day?
“If you base it off points scored, I would say so,” Mendenhall said. “That’s usually how I measure it. While there were glimpses of the explosiveness of our offense, ultimately the defense made enough stops to keep points off the board.
“Defensively, while there were chunks against them, here and there, ultimately they ended up playing fairly consistently,” Mendenhall added. “They made a few stops along the way they needed to make. I saw a lot of players, in terms of most likely players fighting to be in the two-deep after this film is watched (Saturday), it will be really fun to re-establish depth and set the tone for the remaining part of camp.”
As far as his overall impressions, Mendenhall said, “While I saw the potential, I didn’t see the consistency as far as execution. If there’s something I’d like to focus on, it would be more consistency, cleaner play, and being able to sustain drives more cleanly. But what I did see is even more athleticism and being a little more dynamic than I thought. I liked that part.”
For Hill and the offense, Friday’s scrimmage was part of the learning process. He remains confident in what the offense can accomplish.
“It shows that we can’t get complacent. I’m not overly worried with what we had,” he said. “I think we’re really good offensively. Our defense obviously played really well. We’ll come back and I’ve got no worries coming into UConn. We’ll be sharp.”
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