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Cougars not quite ready for opener

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PROVO — With a little less than two weeks remaining until the season-opener against Boston College, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall says his team isn't ready for prime time — yet.

That was his assessment following a scrimmage Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

"That's not the way I'd like to see our team play two weeks from now," Mendenhall said. "We have some work to do. When I looked out there today, I'm not walking away saying, 'We're ready to play.' That's basically what I told them."

Much to the first-year coach's chagrin, the Cougars looked a little too much like the Cougars of the past few seasons. Among the qualities Mendenhall is trying to establish in the program are consistency, execution and precision.

"If you were to say what have been the components the past few years that wouldn't be attributable to our football team, it would be those," Mendenhall said. "My hope is to get those things manifest at a higher level."

"Am I encouraged? Yeah," he continued. "However, I would say focused and leading with a sense of urgency to have our team perform at a higher level would be the way I would describe my feelings. I would have hoped our execution would be at a higher level. We're not playing clean right now. We're having more turnovers in scrimmages than what we're seeing in practice."

Both the offense and the defense had their good and bad moments during the scrimmage. Both found their way into the end zone more than once.

The offense scored three touchdowns as John Beck threw a six-yard TD pass to Joe Griffin, Matt Berry threw a 40-yard TD pass to Zac Collie, and Curtis Brown had a 2-yard TD run.

The defense, meanwhile, scored on a 20-yard interception return by safety Aaron Gordon, as Gordon picked off Beck in the flat and cruised into the end zone.

Later, linebacker Paul Walkenhorst intercepted Jason Beck and ran for 15 yards before pitching it to defensive lineman Daniel Marquardt, who rumbled for about 25 yards before handing the ball to safety Stephen Covey, who took it the final 30 yards for the TD.

On the final drive, Jason Beck moved the Cougars to the 1-yard line, but the defense kept the offense out of the end zone on four consecutive plays.

"Two weeks from today we have B.C.," Collie said. "We just have to keep getting better. We've got a lot of things to improve on, offensively and defensively. That's all we can ask, every day be a little bit better and just get after it."

In all, John Beck completed 15-of-24 passes for 168 yards; Berry was 10-of-14 for 118 yards; and Jason Beck finished 8-of-15 for 108 yards.

Brown had six carries for 20 yards while a number of receivers hauled in passes from the quarterbacks. Todd Watkins had three receptions for 32 yards (he fumbled once); Griffin caught three passes for 75 yards; freshman tight end Vic So'oto had five grabs for 54 yards and Collie made three catches for 82 yards.

Safety Corby Hodgkiss recorded a tackle-for-loss and a sack. Manaia Brown had two pass deflections while David Tafuna, Vince Feula, Richard Nehring and Justin Luettgerodt knocked down one pass apiece.

Placekicker Jared McLaughlin missed his only field goal attempt, from 38 yards, as the ball smacked the left upright. He converted all three of his PAT attempts.

E-mail: jeffc@desnews.com