Provo » The BYU Cougars learned shortly after waking up Saturday morning that they are ranked No. 20 in the nation in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll. Then they were shown again just how good their senior quarterback can be.
Max Hall was simply brilliant -- especially on third down -- at LaVell Edwards Stadium in their second scrimmage of fall camp. Getting two series of work, Hall engineered two long touchdown drives, finishing the day 13-for-14 for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
He was 5-for-5 on third down, most of them third-and-long situations.
There may be some quarterback battles brewing elsewhere in college football -- most notably 40 miles to the north -- but no such thing in Provo. For that, wait until next year.
"It was a good day for the offense," Hall said. "We executed really well and I was really good pre-snap, knowing what the defense was doing ... but not only me. The receivers and running backs were able to pick up on it as well. So we were all on the same page."
The same couldn't be said for the second- and third-string offenses when backup QBs Riley Nelson, Brad Sorensen and Josh Hamblin were at the controls. They did little, and Hamblin even had a throw picked off by freshman Jared Richardson and returned for a TD.
Brenden Gaskins, who earlier in the week demoted himself to third string behind Nelson, actually looked good. He drove the team 41 yards in his one chance, but Mitch Payne missed a 42-yard field goal.
Of course, those QBs didn't have the luxury of throwing to tight end Dennis Pitta. He talked coaches into letting him play the first series (Harvey Unga was held out completely), and he caught two passes for 40 yards and a touchdown of 26 yards.
"Dennis would play every snap if he could," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "Coach [Robert] Anae took a lot of grief for not letting him play in the last scrimmage. I think he gave him one series today, which maybe will appease him for a minute."
Running back J.J. DiLuigi suffered a shoulder contusion after being tackled early in the scrimmage and was held out the rest of the day. Mendenhall said the injury isn't serious.
While the entire projected starting defensive line -- Jan Jorgensen, Russell Tialavea and Brett Denney -- was held out and the untouchable Hall was "whistle sacked" three times, Hall and Mendenhall liked how the offensive line played.
"The O-line did a phenomenal job today," Hall said.
The defense was also without starting safety Andrew Rich (tight groin) and buck linebacker Shawn Doman (precautionary). Sophomore Shiloah Te'o, a safety who is being cross-trained to play buck linebacker, got the start there. Freshman Craig Bills started at safety along with Scott Johnson.
Mendenhall said the Cougars will have one more scrimmage at the stadium, most likely on Wednesday, but that it will mostly include situational work, two-minute drills and goal line work.
His progress report after two weeks of camp: "I like our team. I think they are confident. I think they are progressing, with some questions like there always are at fall camp. Depth at offensive line to me is still a question, making sure that we establish another buck linebacker, and getting our field corner spot, because of depth and injury with [Robbie] Buckner, I would like to get that solidified."
What we learned » Field-goal kicking continues to plague the Cougars as Mitch Payne missed a 42-yarder during the scrimmage
Who was hot » Quarterback Max Hall completed 13 of 14 passes and was 5-for-5 on third down.
Who was sidelined » Several healthy players were held out of the scrimmage, but the list of players out due to injury included safety Andrew Rich (groin), cornerback Brandon Bradley (groin), cornerback Robbie Buckner (hamstring), linebacker Chase Hansen (groin), running back Mike Hague (hamstring) and running back Bryan Kariya (ankle)