New BYU quarterback Steve Sarkisian has a lot of things going for him as a football player. Experience at the major college level isn't one of those things, however.
Sarkisian got some valuable experience in game-like situations when the Cougars held their first scrimmage of the fall camp Saturday evening. While the BYU defense as a whole appeared to be ahead of the offense at this point, Sarkisian made a few big plays. He finished 8-for-14 for 110 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions."Sarkisian's getting more familiar with the offense, but you can't manufacture experience," Cougar coach LaVell Edwards said. "Getting him into a game-like situation like today with more contact and with everyone fired up is something we want to have him exposed to as much as possible."
Sarkisian's first two passes were incomplete, but he then completed six straight. His biggest completion of the scrimmage came on a fourth-and-six situation, when he found tight end Itula Mili wide open on the left side resulting in a 46-yard touchdown catch and run. His second TD was a 30-yarder to receiver Ben Cahoon, a junior college transfer from Ricks.
"I feel very confident in (Sarkisian). He's going to do a good job," Edwards said. "Early in the week he was putting too much pressure on himself, but the last couple of days he's settled down."
Sarkisian played about half the time during the scrimmage, with the other quarterbacks splitting up the remainder. The two redshirt freshmen fighting to be Sarkisian's backup were about even Saturday. Brian Vye completed 4-of-7 passes for 39 yards, while Paul Shoemaker was successful on 5-of-9 throws for 46 yards with one interception.
None of the running backs broke off any long runs, as the Cougar defensive front seven did a nice job. Starters Hema Heimuli and Mark Atuaia ran hard for short gains, while Ned Stearns, a freshman from Oregon, had a couple of eight-yard rushes and looked impressive in his first scrimmage as a Cougar.
Kicker Bill Hansen had a nice outing, nailing two long field goals - of 42 and 47 yards.
Overall, Edwards was pleased with the first dress rehearsal of the fall.
"There was good contact, good hitting and the effort was excellent," Edwards said. "We had some good execution on both offense and defense. We had a few breakdowns, but for being after the first week of practice it was very good."
On a down note, the Cougar offensive line, which already has little experience, saw a couple of starters leave the scrimmage with injuries. Tackle Matt Meservey sprained an ankle, while center Morris Unutoa went out with a knee injury.