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Provo • As the vocal and play-making leader of BYU's defense, middle linebacker Harvey Langi is still learning a lot about his new position and playing on that side of the ball.

He has already learned that when coach Bronco Mendenhall says something, it is probably best to agree. So when Langi was told after Saturday's BYU scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium that Mendenhall had said the defense finally caught up to the offense, the former University of Utah running back had to concur.

"If the big honcho says yes, then yes," Langi said. "That's the right answer, right?"

Before the scrimmage that lasted about 80 plays, BYU's offense had the upper hand most often in 11-on-11 team drills over at the outdoor practice field earlier in the week, by most accounts.

Not so on Saturday, as the defense gave up just one touchdown — a 43-yard strike from Taysom Hill to Nick Kurtz — and came up with two turnovers, interceptions by backups Michael Shelton and Butch Pau'u off freshman QB Tanner Mangum.

In fairness, Kurtz dropped a bomb that might have gone for a touchdown earlier in the scrimmage, and a 62-yard would-be touchdown pass from Mangum to Colby Pearson was negated by a holding penalty.

"We looked sloppy," said receiver Devon Blackmon, who caught two passes for 17 yards. "It just wasn't us today. That wasn't a good preview of us. … If this was the season, we [would have] lost. We weren't consistent. A good offense is consistent throughout the season."

Pearson agreed, saying the offense "did not execute like we wanted to, expected to and have been executing [in previous practices]."

Hill was still fairly sharp, completing 13 of 20 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. Mangum was 4 for 10 for 47 yards and the two picks. His across-the-body throw to Pearson for the near-score was a thing of beauty.

Officials seemed quick on the whistle when defenders got near any of the quarterbacks — freshmen Beau Hoge and Koy Detmer Jr. also saw action — and Langi, Manoa Pikula, Fred Warner, Tomasi Laulile, Sae Tautu, Remington Peck and Bronson Kaufusi were all credited with sacks.

"BYU won the day. That's who won the day," Langi said, declining to take credit for the defense's mastery.

Mendenhall said the battle "kinda shifted a little bit back today" to the defense after "the first week it had kinda been shifted more offensively, where big plays were happening and balls were going over the top of us and around us."

The offense was missing several stars, including receiver Mitch Mathews, running back Algernon Brown and center Tejan Koroma, although only Mathews (hernia) was injured.

Koroma's absence is a possible sign that he could be one of the players suspended for the bowl game brawl, but Mendenhall said it was done to get a better look at the backup centers in case Koroma "is not in there, and what that looks like."

To even things up, nose tackle Travis Tuiloma also sat and defensive end Kaufusi played sparingly.

A lot of the scrimmage was dedicated to punting and kicking work, and Mendenhall felt like punters Jonny Linehan and Rhett Almond performed reasonably well after a tough week. Kicker Trevor Samson was perfect on his field goal attempts and even made a pair of 51-yarders.

The punt returners struggled to field some of Linehan's rugby punts.

"The returners still need work," Mendenhall said.

He praised the play of cornerbacks Shelton, Jordan Preator and Michael Davis and announced that receiver Micah Simon has been moved to that position. Micah Hannemann didn't dress (No. 7 was actually Simon, not Hannemann). Mendenhall said there are some communication holdups among doctors regarding Hannemann's undisclosed injury that are delaying his return.

Riley Burt, the freshman from Box Elder High, has been moved to running back to offset the loss of Jamaal Williams.

Burt got four carries for 8 yards, while fellow freshman Francis Bernard was the leading rusher with 22 yards on five carries.

"I was probably the most plays we will do, with the most significant players, until we play [against Nebraska on Sept. 5]," Mendenhall said. "So this was a chance to see where we are."

And gain some comfort that the defense might be OK.

Twitter: @drewjay —

Camp scrimmage highlights

R Much-maligned the first week of camp, the defense wins the day at the first scrimmage, holding the offense to one touchdown in about 80 plays.

• Quarterback Taysom Hill completes 13 of 20 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.

• Defensive back Michael Shelton and linebacker Butch Pau'u record interceptions off freshman QB Tanner Mangum.

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