BYU held its open scrimmage on Saturday morning and here are my thoughts on the proceedings.
Taysom Hill went 13-20, 194 yards and a TD. Hill showed, once again, that he is comfortable with passing to the outside from ranges of 0-10 yards. Hill had a stretch where he completed 7 straight driving the team down the field before the drive was stifled in the red zone when Hill fumbled and recovered it, but not before losing 15 yards. He did, however, look downfield more frequently include his lone TD which was a 46 yard bomb to Nick Kurtz.
Tanner Mangum completed 4 passes on 10 attempts for 47 yards. He threw two interceptions. The first INT occurred when Mangum looked to throw from the right hash to the left sideline looking for Josh Weeks on a 10 yard hitch. This long pass hung too long and didn't have the zip to beat a fast closing Michael Shelton. The 2nd INT came when LB Butch Pau'u tipped up Mangum's pass and collected the tip. This one was likely going back for six. Mangum did have one bright moment when he found Colby Pearson on a deep post for a 50+ yard TD, but it was called back due to a holding call.
Beau Hoge went 2-5 finding RB Francis Bernard and WR Trey Dye on shot routes for 16 yards.
Koy Detmer Jr. went 1-4 finding WR Talon Shumway for 12 yards on his lone completion.
Based on the tweet from KSL's Greg Wrubell the stats are official:
Scrimmage stats: Taysom Hill 13/20, 194 yds, TD; Tanner Mangum 4/10, 47 yds, 2 INT; Beau Hoge 2/5, 16 yds; Koy Detmer, Jr. 1/4, 12 yds.— Greg Wrubell (@gregwrubell) August 15, 2015
The Cougars offense had several three and outs, which are doubly bad in the "Go Hard, Go Fast" offense.
Mitch Mathews was in pads and participated in the pre-scrimmage drills. He was moving well.
As receiving went, you'll read about Kurtz's speed and his TD catch and another time where he dropped on a streak a perfectly place deep ball from Taysom. As impressive and enticing as Kurtz is, the Cougars feature a trio of guys that are going to be reliable and effective in Colby Pearson, Terenn Houk, and Mitchell Juergens. Each of these guys seem the most adept of the receiving corp at finding space to get open when Taysom scrambles, a skill that is critical when Hill is pulling the trigger in the backfield.
There was only one run of note on the day. It came from Adam Hine on 3rd and 10. He ran a patented Robert Anae draw up the middle on 3rd and long, and somehow, it did catch the defense off guard. Hine gained a first down.
The defense gave up only one touchdown while forcing 5 sacks on the 1st team, and 7 sacks in total. They also forced 2 INTs.
For me, the best performance of the open scrimmage came from kicker Trevor Samson. He went 7 for 7 on field goals and made his only PAT. Samson hit from the left hash, right hash, and the middle. He hit from 26, 28, 37, 41, and 51 yards. Beyond that, his kicks weren't squeaking their way inside the upright, they went right down the middle. Look for Samson to be a trusted weapon this season.
A most compelling story, which turns out to be a nice dilemma comes from the battle at punter. Which do you value more? Kick coverage or distance?
Rugby star Jonny Linehan was blasting kicks 45 to 55 yards with frequency. The way the football flies off his foot is end over end. Beyond that, the landing spot of the kick will land to the right of where the ball is snapped with Linehan's rugby style punt. But the flight path on Linehan's kick is unpredictable. Sometimes it will be a high arching kick. Other times it will travel its way down the field at a low trajectory. The BYU punt returners always seemed off-balance when Linehan kicked. The crowd loves Linehan, and his story, as he caused a couple of oohs and awws with particularly well hit balls.
Meanwhile, freshman punter from Valencia, California, Rhett Almond, is traditional and predictable. His football flies 40-45 yards in a spiral. He kicked it straight forward and the ball always sailed nice and high. When Almond kicks, it is going to be fair catch city as the punt coverage will always get there.
There are important differences between the two. Linehan is the better athlete and gives BYU options for fake punts. It seemed Linehan got his punts out faster, but I didn't have a stopwatch. It may just be that there is more movement before his punts. Almond takes away returns. Which is important as the Cougars as they were the 95th worst kick coverage team in that nation, giving up 9.33 yards per punt return. Both punted well overall on the day, but both had a couple bad kicks here and there.
The question of who is more consistent will be solved in the coming weeks of practice. Also, the question of who can be the more accurate punter when it comes to pinning teams close to their goal line.
Both would serve as useful, but it will be interesting to see how the coaches make their decision as these things can make a big difference in winning the field position battle. A battle that needs to go better in 2015 if they are to break out of the 8-5s -- BYU's opponents starter in on the Cougars side of the 50 giving them a short field in 17% of possessions last season (122 worst of 128 teams).
All in all, the team looked good. The defense won the day, but certainly the offense had its moments too.
The next time the public is invited to see the BYU Football team perform will be on September 5th in Lincoln, Nebraska.