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BYU football spring scrimmage: Defense, tight ends stand out for Cougars

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BYU completed an open scrimmage/practice in rainy Provo

Southern Utah v BYU Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

BYU played its first-ever televised spring game Saturday afternoon in rainy Provo. The game consisted of a few 11-on-11 sessions and other practice-type drills.

A spring practice/scrimmage isn’t a time to draw many conclusions, but we’ll give a few of the highlights that stood out from BYU’s open practice.

  1. The defense is ahead of the offense.

Considering the personnel and last year’s results, this isn’t all that shocking. BYU returns a bevy of talent from last year’s defense, and is expected to build upon and improve over last year’s stellar results. All three linebackers return, as well as 3 of the 4 starters in the defensive backfield.

During the few live possessions, BYU limited downfield passes and picked off Tanner Mangum a couple times. Butch Pau’u came down with an impressive one-handed interception where he tipped the ball up to himself.

BYU’s receivers left a lot to be desired last season, and will counted on more this season without Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams.

2. Tight ends are getting better! And Matt Bushman looked pretty darn good.

The MVP of the day was true freshman Matt Bushman. In one of BYU’s first drives of the day, Beau Hoge hooked up with Bushman over the middle for a 33-yard gain.

The play of the day, however, game on a crossing route over the middle from Kody Wilstead that Bushman took 65 yards to the end zone.

Bushman was one of the top prospects coming out of Arizona before his mission, and will be counted on to provide a spark in the passing game this year. Bushman also added a 5-yard touchdown grab from Tanner Mangum (to be fair, Mangum likely would have been hit/sacked if it was real game situation.)

With Moroni Laulu-Pututau transitioning from wide receiver to tight end, BYU looks like it will have one of its most productive tight end groups in years.

Other contributors at tight end included 280-pound returned missionary Joe Tukuafu and Nate Sampson. Tukuafu looks like he will redshirt this season.

3. No one is separating himself at running back

One of the main questions coming into spring ball was who would replace Jamaal Williams. With spring practices coming to a close, that question has yet to be answered. Running Backs coach Reno Mahe said himself that a committee approach will likely be employed.

Squally Canada is the most likely candidate to initially get a bulk of the carries, but other names in the mix include Ula Tolutau, Riley Burt, KJ Hall and Trey Dye.

BYU has a lot of names in the mix, but it remains to be seen how much talent BYU actually has to replace Jamaal Williams.

Other tidbits:

  • Junior offensive lineman Jacob Jimenez tore his ACL last week in St. George. He has a redshirt year available.
  • After missing most of last season, Ului Lapuaho’s career appears to be in jeopardy.
  • Sophomore defensive back Chris Wilcox had a nice interception on Tanner Mangum.
  • Safety and Texas Tech transfer Tanner Jacobson was getting work at punt returner. Jonah Trinnaman returned kickoffs.
  • One of the top 2018 QBs, Tanner McKee, was in town. McKee recently received an offer from Alabama. He is LDS and planning on serving a mission before enrolling whatever school he chooses.
  • Tejan Koroma is still huge.
  • Former LSU QB commit and Ty Detmer’s nephew Zadock Dinkelmann received a scholarship offer today after attending the spring game.

BYU concludes its spring practices next week.