It was hot and overcast Saturday at the BYU football’s team spring scrimmage, but that didn’t stop the stadium from being full of fans eager to get a taste of what the team had to offer.
In years past, the spring game has been an actual game where there was a winner and a loser. This year, the two teams just played against one another without keeping score.
“I wanted to see a lot of the younger players play,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “There were a few that kind of caught my eye, which is what we were hoping for.”
The younger players were able to get some action as the team ran an effective scrimmage. They were also the players Mendenhall was scoping out during the practice.
“I wasn’t measuring execution as much as I was looking to identify players who might be able to play a significant role or larger role than we thought in the fall,” Mendenhall said.
Mendenhall kept tabs on a few players to see where he could possibly use them in the upcoming season.
“In the defensive perspective Mike Yeck was showing a really nice command of the defense and leadership,” Mendenhall. “Ezekiel Ansah is very hard to block and very, very active. Manoa Pikula is emerging as someone we’re impressed with. Offensively Jason Munns, besides being able to throw the football in most of the conditioning and even in some of our time tests, he’s one of the fastest players on the team.”
The team has been practicing several times a week so far this spring, and it has helped the team get back into the swing of things.
“Yeah, it’s been a great spring,” said junior Houston Reynolds. “I feel like especially the offensive line has done a great job. There are a lot of guys that are hurt, a lot of guys who’ve had surgeries so there’s been some younger guys who get to learn how to be aggressive and they’ve done a great job of that.”
Many of the projected starters didn’t participate in the scrimmage, causing the others team members to step up to the challenge.
“I think it was a great choice,” Reynolds said in reference to the starters not playing. “It’s awesome to see some of those young guys who you see battle every day to get a chance to shine, get a chance to make some plays. That’s always a great thing, you’re always stoked for your teammates to get that chance.”
The scrimmage was a great opportunity to show that the football team has many players who are ready to play at any time.
“I completely agree with that,” senior Riley Nelson said when asked if he thought that the team had depth. “That’s a sign of a good program, and you have to credit coach Mendenhall and the whole coaching staff and also credit those players who came before to where we can recruit depth. Great programs recruit depth and if we can only keep getting better and better as time goes on, that’d be a great thing.”
The injury list for the Cougars is fairly large this spring, which can cause some tension.
“For me personally it’s been a little frustrating,” Nelson said. “I mean there’s nothing you can do about it, and that’s why it’s frustrating. It’s best to focus on the things you can control. Regardless it is what it is, and I feel like coach Mendenhall has done a great job managing all of that and allowing us to still have a highly effective scrimmage.”
The team looked well organized and executed the scrimmage well, but according to Nelson the Cougars have some things to work on before the fall.
“Just from the offensive standpoint, we need to get better in all aspects of the game,” Nelson said. “From protecting to our timing patterns to our down the field passing. The good thing is we’ve got time, it’s only March.”