BYU football • Not wanting to risk injuries in March, coaches sit most of the team's starters.
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Provo • BYU's spring football scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium was as short as coach Bronco Mendenhall said it would be, lasting only about a half-hour and consisting of only 35 plays.
It probably could have been three times that long, though, and the injury-depleted offense still wouldn't have scored against the defense, which wasn't at full strength either but was also not quite as short-handed.
There were more punts (five) than first downs (four), and one of the longest plays from scrimmage was a 14-yard reception by a guy who used to play defense, former linebacker Austen Jorgensen. Alas, an offensive penalty negated most of that yardage; Backup receiver Dallin Cutler also had a 14-yard catch and quarterback Taysom Hill picked up 22 rushing yards on three carries.
But the defense dominated in every other way imaginable to no one's surprise.
"The same offensive line played all  offensive plays, so that was basically too much for them against that quality of competition," Mendenhall said. "There were eight or nine of our top 10 offensive linemen who weren't playing, and so there was a little bit of a talent differential there."
The offense was also without starting quarterback Riley Nelson, who, although not injured, was held out of action along with almost anyone else who is expected to be a starter this fall. It is all part of Mendenhall's philosophy that what happens in the spring rarely translates to what happens in the fall, and most of what can happen in a spring game or scrimmage is bad, or can tip off future opponents.
"It was fun to see a lot of younger players play and there were a few that kind of caught my eye, which was what we were hoping for," Mendenhall said. "I wasn't measuring execution as much as I was looking to identify maybe players that might be added to the two-deep and might be able to play a significant role, or a large role, in the fall."
The coach singled out defensive back Mike Hague (who intercepted a pass by freshman Alex Kuresa), defensive end Ziggy Ansah and linebacker Manoa Pikula as shining on defense. Offensively, he liked the scrambling ability of freshman QB Hill, the Stanford transfer.
"We got a chance to see [Taysom Hill] get out of the pocket today, and when that happens, he is hard to contain," the coach said. "So I like that."
The four QBs James Lark, Hill, Ammon Olsen and Kuresa each got two possessions to show what they could do. Lark was 3-for-8 for 34 yards, while Hill was 2-for-3 for 4 yards, Olsen was 1-for-3 for 2 yards and Kuresa was 1-for-4 for 6 yards and added a nifty 9-yard scramble.
Center Blair Tushaus, perhaps the only offensive lineman among the eight who saw a rep on Saturday who will play this fall, said the hodge-podge unit showed some potential, but was tired and had a difficult time with a defensive line that is much deeper this spring.
"The coaches kind of did us a favor," he said. "They gave us a minute every time we changed sides. But it was still tiring here or there. It was a test of how bad we want it."
Head athletic trainer Kevin Morris reported that there were no new injuries; Running back Adam Hine stayed on the field for a few moments and wobbled back to the sideline after a collision that resulted in him fumbling the football (Robbie Buckner recovered), but was not displaying concussion-like symptoms and was cleared to go back in.
BYU Spring scrimmage
How the quarterbacks performed:
James Lark • 3 for 8 for 34 yards
Taysom Hill • 2 for 3 for 4 yards; 3 carries for 22 yards
Ammon Olsen • 1 for 3 for 2 yards
Alex Kuresa • 1 for 4 for 6 yards, 1 INT; 9-yard run