The BYU football team picked up right where it left off last season during a scrimmage at Cougar Stadium Saturday afternoon - the offense was moving the ball and the defense was allowing it.
But after the Cougar offense advanced 58 yards on seven plays to open the scrimmage, an interesting thing happened - the defense held. The result was a missed 37-yard field goal.While the offense certainly had its moments, as expected, the defense, which was last in the WAC last season, held its own.
"A lot of the new guys on defense are starting to step up," coach LaVell Edwards said. "The hitting was good and their attitude has been excellent. I felt good about (the defense)."
Defensive linemen John Raas and Mike Ulufale made their presence known, as did middle linebacker Stan Raas (John's twin brother) and defensive backs Dermmell Reed and Jamie Cook. All five are junior college transfers who will see plenty of action this year. Cook had the hardest hit of the afternoon, when he leveled receiver Mike Johnston after he caught a pass across the middle. He also intercepted a Tom Young pass.
Quarterback John Walsh wasn't particularly sharp, completing 9-17 for 88 yards and no touchdowns while being sacked twice (once by linebacker Ed Lamb and once by end Travis Hall). Backup Steve Clements completed 8-14 passes for 110 yards before leaving the game due to dehydration. His big play of the game was a 41-yard bomb to senior receiver Bryce Doman.
Young, playing much of the time against the second and third string defenses, completed the first eight passes he threw and was 8-11 for the day for 95 yards with an interception. Freshman Bryan Vye came in the scrimmage late and tossed a pair of touchdown passes - an 11-yarder to Tyler Bolli and a 40-yarder to tight end Itula Mili.
Starting running backs Jamal Willis and Hema Heimuli saw limited action. Mark Atuaia, a sophomore who was on a mission the past two years, made the offensive play of the game with a nifty 58-yard touchdown run. Tefua Bloomfield, a freshman from Hunter High, scored on a five yard run.
Senior receiver Tim Nowatzke twisted his ankle early in the scrimmage and several players sat out due to minor injuries, but the Cougars still have no major injuries to report.