This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A major storyline out of BYU's five-week spring practices session has been the offense's domination over the defense, but on Wednesday morning the 14th of 15 practices the defense seemingly rose up and said enough is enough. Actually, it went that way on Monday as well.
Safety Kai Nacua appeared in the interview room and said the defense is finally rounding into shape, especially the secondary, and has delivered back-to-back solid practices.
Receiver Mitch Mathews also spoke to reporters today, and said the offense got a little complacent after its strong showing in last Friday's scrimmage.
Both sides will get another shot on Friday, as coach Bronco Mendenhall announced the final practice of 2015 spring camp will be held at LaVell Edwards Stadium and will include a short scrimmage as part of Alumni Day. More than 1,000 former players and their family members are expected to attend the practice and festivities afterward. The proceedings are not open to the public.
"My understanding is [that it will be] similar to last Friday," said quarterbacks coach Jason Beck. "It will be in the stadium, with a similar setting and format to let the guys compete in kind of a game-like situation for a limited number of reps. Being smart with the last scrimmage, being smart with the guys who are proven in what they are going to do for us next year, we don't want to put them at risk. So it is more for that next group of guys who are trying to earn a bigger role and a bigger job on the team to get out there and show what they can do."
In the media viewing portion of Wednesday's practice, the Cougars worked a lot on trying to flip the field. The offense would try to move the ball from within yards of its own goal line, and if it failed, punters would boot the ball out of their own end zone.
Linebacker Austin Heder intercepted a Christian Stewart pass for the biggest highlight.
"Yeah, it was a little flat on Monday," QBs coach Beck said. "We were pushing hard to get it going today. A combination of feeling like they had a little success, and also playing in the stadium in front of the fans, and then you come back on Monday and it is kind of back to the normal. So it is kind of [flat]. You can anticipate that a little bit and try to push them and we all wanted to finish strong."
More notes about Wednesday's session, and then more quotes from Beck (Mendenhall was not made available to the media on Wednesday):
* Colby Jorgensen, the towering (6-foot-7) tight end, has been moved to defensive end. Beck said Jorgensen was competing with 5 or 6 other tight ends for reps and wasn't getting many.
"I think it is with his abilities, try him out at some other spots and see if he can have an impact for us," Beck said.
* Nacua said that Khari Vanderbilt, the safety from San Jose (Calif.) City College who committed to BYU last winter, then recommitted a few days before Signing Day, was at practice on Wednesday. Vanderbilt later confirmed that via Twitter. Nacua spoke as if Vanderbilt and coaches are still trying to work something out to get him back for fall camp. Stay tuned.
* Beck said that backup QB McCoy Hill, who suffered a foot injury the first practice of spring camp, has had a screw inserted into said foot and was originally diagnosed to be out six months.
"So we are just kind of waiting until he gets back and cleared, and then he will start,' Beck said. "You know, he is involved in everything mentally, from that standpoint, but can't do much, can't put much weight on that foot. They put a screw in there, I know that, but I am not 100 percent sure what [the injury] is."
* Beck said that QB Tanner Mangum will return home from his mission to Chile on June 3 and will head to Provo (from his hometown near Boise, Idaho) a few days later. After talking about how he has sent film and cut-ups and parts of the playbook to incoming freshman QB Beau Hoge in Kentucky, Beck joked that he's been tempted to send similar material to Mangum in Chile but has resisted so far.
He said Hoge will join the rest of the freshmen in Provo in early August.
As for Mangum, he expects the highly touted prospect to "just jump in the pool, both feet, and get going. So there will be a lot of film work and the mental side of it as he works back with the normal missionary protocol that we do to get him back physically. He gets back early June, so he will have a couple months physically to get back into it before he reports to camp.
But the big thing is mentally, just really diving in and soaking up the playbook to get to work."
* Finally, Beck talked about how Taysom Hill performed in a limited role in camp as he recovers from a fractured leg.
"I think we have gotten better with the cards we were dealt, and the circumstances we were working with," Beck said. "We did a pretty good job tailoring the practices to meet the needs of our team. For me, specifically, getting Taysom the work that he could do and the setting and situations to help him get better. And then with bringing Stew back to help our offense and our team do get better. I feel good about what we have accomplished these last five weeks."
"My understanding was [Taysom Hill will be fully cleared to play in] early May. He is pretty close now, but early May was kind of the timeframe and I think everything has been on schedule, or earlier. So that's my understanding."
Beck on Taysom's progress:
"Everything has been limited to standing in the pocket and throwing, which is what we want to do anyway, which is great. And we have seen some nice development with certain throws throughout the spring.
We are always emphasizing fast decisions, and cutting the ball loose, and so we have seen quite a few really good steps this spring with certain routes, certain throws and the timing of it that we feel good about. We just have to keep building through the summer and then competing for our first game."