The BYU football team held its last open practice this morning until a scrimmage at the end of the week. The practice consisted of position work highlighted by 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 live action at the end of the practice. The team is still getting its rhythm and coaches are still tinkering with lineups and combinations.
The highlight of day was the play of the quarterbacks and receivers. During the first set of 11-on-11, Taysom Hill hooked up with Nick Kurtz for a 50 yard gain which immediately lead to an Alge Brown touchdown run. On the very next series, Hill hit Mitch Juergens for a 70 yard touchdown catch on a slant pattern. When Taysom had time, his footwork was good and threw the ball well and accurately.
Now, speaking of the protection and overall play of the offensive line, it wasn't too great. The only center who didn't botch multiple snaps was Tejan Koroma. Aside from problems snapping the ball, the line struggled opening running lanes. Part of that may have been that the quarterbacks were not keeping the ball on the zone read plays, thus allowing the linebackers and defensive lineman to focus solely on the backs.
The receiving corps really impressed today. Even if a quarterback did not hit a receiver right on the money, he went and caught the ball for the most part. Nick Kurtz seemed to catch everything thrown his way and appears to have developed some chemistry with Hill, which allowed them to make some plays even when it seemed there was not a play to be made. Devon Blackmon dropped some passes but was creating a ton of separation from the corners covering him.
The front seven looked good. The plugged running lanes and got pressure on the quarterbacks. The defensive backs did get beat at times, but that is to be expected when freshman are being given a shot to lock down a spot in camp. The covered slants and outs very well, except for the Juergens touchdown, but got beat on double moves and in one on one drills. Once again, like with the run game, the one on one drills may be misleading as Bronco usually has his corners play a little off the receivers with help from the safeties over the top.
Overall, the offense and defense took turns looking good while special teams were mixed. Trevor Samson hit a 48 yard field goal while both he and back up Austin Brasher were very consistent while working on the kicking game. The punters are still a work in progress.
Tanner Mangum continued to impress. He can make all the throws and he leads receivers well. Hopefully, this will be a season of Hill doing the heavy lifting and Mangum getting experience in mop up duty.
On a side note, after practice concluded all the players made their way to the ice baths-except for one group. Coach Tujague kept the offensive linemen on the field for some extra conditioning. After the group finished their work, he kept the centers and had them practice their snaps for around 10 minutes. He was clearly not happy with his position group's performance and showed that he expects more out of them.
The Cougars will have another open practice on Saturday, a scrimmage which will be held at LaVell Edwards Stadium at 10:20 a.m. Doors open at 9, so get there and get your football fix as we lead up to kickoff.