It should come as no surprise that the BYU defense, which returns eight starters from a year ago, made life for quarterback Kevin Feterik and his offensive teammates rough for much of Saturday's scrimmage at Cougar Stadium.
"We got killed," said Feterik, who unofficially completed 11-of-26 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown against BYU's first-stringers. Feterik completed 5-of-7 passes on the opening drive and then went 6-of-19 the rest of the way.For the most part, the defense also put the clamps down on BYU's rushing attack. Before going out with a slight hamstring injury, running back Ronney Jenkins rushed just a few times and lost yardage on two of his carries.
Not only is the 1998 BYU defense solid, it has an attitude. If you don't believe it, just ask the BYU offense.
At one point, backup quarterback Brandon Doman, who was running the No. 2 offense with Drew Miller nursing a hamstring injury, was picked off by reserve linebacker Justin Ena. Doman dove for Ena's knees while trying to make a tackle. Starting safety Jason Walker, who thought it was a cheap shot, jumped off the sidelines and slugged Doman in the face, sparking a brawl that lasted for a few minutes.
The message was clear: Don't mess with the Cougar defense.
As far as Feterik is concerned, there's no better preparation for facing a fierce and physical Alabama defense than his own team's defense. "We have one of the top defenses in the nation," Feterik said. "With their new defense they blitz all the time. Hopefully they can do that with other teams and that will give us some good field position to work with."
Headlining the defense is the defensive line, which has a rotation of nine solid players, including starters Ed Kehl, Daren Yancey, Issiah Magalei and Byron Frisch. Coming off the bench is Hans Olsen, Ifo Pili, Chris Hoke, Andrew Nash and Setema Gali Jr.
"It's our strong point," said defensive coordinator Ken Schmidt. "This is the deepest we've been in a long, long time. Against Alabama we'll be rotating all the time to keep guys fresh. The key will be applying pressure to the quarterback."
That's exactly what BYU did Saturday, registering several sacks. The Cougars will be throwing a new look at opponents this season - a number of blitz packages involving corners and safeties that coaches installed last spring.
But Schmidt and Edwards downplayed the defensive domination. "It's an inexperienced offense against a very experienced defense," Edwards said. "Both sides did a good job. We got done what we wanted to get done."
"We didn't tackle real well," Schmidt said. "This is the first time (this fall) we've been able to tackle at full speed."
But I felt good about the intensity out there."
BYU received a dose of bad news when safety Chris Ellison dislocated his right shoulder.
Coaches are hoping to have him return to action for the opener. "We're not real deep in the secondary or at linebacker," Schmidt said. "We need Chris back."
While the offense struggled at times, it did have a number of bright spots. Doman, a redshirt freshman out of Skyline High, turned heads with a good outing. He completed 11-of-18 passes for a pair of touchdowns of 7 and 30 yards. Both TDs went to another redshirt freshman, Soren Halladay.
Another player who impressed was true freshman Junior Mahe. The Brighton High product started off the scrimmage by hauling in a toss from Feterik and juking his way down field for a 36-yard gain. Later, he scored a 19-yard TD when he caught a Feterik pass one-handed and danced into the end zone.
BYU will continue two-a-days Monday and hold another scrimmage Thursday evening.