Offense gets the best of defense in Cougars first scrimmage

Offense gets the best of defense in Cougars first scrimmage



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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by Jeff Reynolds, BYU Athletic Communications

PROVO, Utah (August 11, 2007) -- With kickoff to the 2007 season just three weeks away, the Cougars held their first scrimmage of Fall Camp on Saturday at Edwards Stadium. The first-team offense scored on four of its five series, including three touchdowns and a field goal.

"It felt good to put some points on the board today," BYU quarterback Max Hall said. "Our offensive line and our running backs had a good day. It felt good to be in a live situation."

Hall completed nearly 79 percent of his attempts for 171 yards, including a 61-yard toss to redshirt freshman running back Harvey Unga and a 50-yard pass to sophomore receiver Austin Collie. Hall completed his first six attempts before missing his first target. However, he made up for the errant toss on the very next play, hooking up with Unga for the unit's second touchdown of the scrimmage.

"I'm encouraged by the direction Max is taking with our offense," Mendenhall said.

While Hall showed continued improvement running the offense, it was the corps of running backs that frustrated the normally stingy defense.

Six different backs carried the ball for a combined total of 118 yards, averaging just over 6.5 yards per carry. Unga started the ball rolling with a 25-yard run early in the scrimmage that later led to a Joe Semanoff 7-yard touchdown run. Freshman J. J. Di Luigi got a heavy dose of action, carrying the ball six straight times during a late series. The newcomer showed off some nifty moves, picking up an average of 5.7 yards per carry.

"Everyone talks about how our running backs are mostly about power, and you saw what happens when you have to try and tackle them," Hall said. "I think we also saw their speed. This was just a glimpse of what our running backs are capable of. We have a lot of depth at running back."

The duo of Unga and Manase Tonga were credited with over 140 of the first-team's 240 total yards.

"Today was a good day," Unga said. "Our offense had a good showing. Our line had some good blocks and Max did a good job."

Despite picking up four sacks and holding the second-team unit out of the endzone throughout the 50-play scrimmage, senior linebacker Bryan Kehl said the defense lacked emotion and did not compete as expected.

"We were flat," Kehl said. "That was not the Cougar-D out there today. We have to go back and watch the film and ultimately come out here and put more heart and energy into what we're doing. Overall, this first week, the defense has played pretty well through camp. Today we got knocked down a little, but we'll get back up and be ready to go."

Following the scrimmage, Mendenhall said sophomore defensive lineman Russell Tialavea suffered a possible season-ending knee injury. He added Tialavea will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the injury.

"Losing Russell is a big blow to the defense," Kehl said. "Someone will have to step up. I don't know who it will be, but someone is going to have to step up. That's what we're all about."

The team's next practice, Monday, Aug. 13 at 10 a.m., will be open to the public. Fans are encouraged to wear blue. The BYU Bookstore will have new "Fully Invested" t-shirts available for sale at the event.

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