PROVO — BYU's spring scrimmage Saturday afternoon at LaVell Edwards Stadium featured a host of players that probably many of the fans in attendance had never heard of.
The Cougar coaching staff kept many of the projected starters out either due to injuries or for precautionary reasons.
Still, for coach Bronco Mendenhall, the scrimmage was a chance for him to look toward the future.
"It was fun to see a lot of younger players play," he said. "There were a few that kind of caught my eye, which is what we were hoping for. I wasn't measuring execution as much as I was looking to identify 80 players that might be added to the two-deep and might be able to play a larger role than we thought in the fall."
Players that stood out to Mendenhall included defensive back Mike Hague, who recorded an interception; defensive lineman Ziggy Ansah; linebacker Manoa Pikula; running back Adam Hine; and tight end McCoy Hill, who a converted quarterback.
Ansah "is active and very hard to block," Mendenhall said. Hill "is starting to emerge as a really nice BYU tight end," the coach added. "He's going to go on a mission after this spring, but he's started to emerge as a key contributor when he gets back."
Other players who performed well included wide receiver Dallin Cutler, who had two catches for 14 yards, and fullback Austen Jorgensen, who had one reception for 14 yards.
BYU coaches would have preferred to stage a scrimmage with the team divided into teams, but the high volume of injuries didn't allow for that this spring.
"I'd rather have it like a year ago when we had enough healthy players to divide the team up, have a little more intrigue, and have two main quarterbacks going against each other," Mendenhall said. "We ended up with an overtime game and a coach being carried off the field. Kind of a nice culmination. This was more workmanlike, with a different purpose. It was fitting in relation to where our team currently is at this point."
"I would have loved to have had a bunch of our injured players out here," Doman said. "That would be the ideal scenario. Being able to play a game is better. We just don't have enough linemen seven guys. We got close to 40 plays with seven linemen. It was about right for what we needed."
RISE AND SHOUT:
About 7,500 fans attended the scrimmage.
"Nothing with our fans in terms of support surprises me. They love BYU football," Mendenhall said. "I'm very appreciative that I get a chance to coach at a place like that. They take it seriously and they love to do it. You can see there's a lot of families. These are family events. It's a different population maybe than a lot of institutions have."
Hague was also appreciative of the support.
"It's always good to hear some cheers," he said. "You don't really hear many cheers on defense. They're usually here to cheer the offense on. Usually when it's a little bit quiet, it means the defense had a good day. We're glad we had a good day."
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Among the players who are injured or recovering from surgery and did not participate in the scrimmage — Ross Apo, Kyle Van Noy, Richard Wilson, DeQuan Everett, Jordan Smith, Brandon Ogletree, Ryan Freeman, Russell Tialavea, Famika Anae, Walter Kahaiali'i, Ryker Mathews, Brock Stringham, Braden Brown, Braden Hansen, Houston Reynolds, Devin Mahina, Colby Jorgensen, Rhen Brown, Austin Holt, Trevor Brown, Justin Sorensen and Zed Mendenhall.
Among the players held out of the scrimmage for precautionary or other reasons — Joe Sampson, Cody Hoffman, Uona Kaveinga, Iona Pritchard, Daniel Sorensen, Jason Munns, JD Falslev, Riley Nelson and Michael Alisa.
Running back Paul Lasike, who also plays rugby for BYU, did not participate because he was in Wyoming with the rugby team.
STILL MORE TO COME:
BYU will hold three more practices next week before winding up spring drills on Friday, which also marks alumni day.