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BYU football: Offense gains the upper hand during first full-contact scrimmage of spring practices

PROVO — BYU's first full-contact scrimmage of spring Thursday ended with the offense executing a long touchdown pass and defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki walking off the field, joking with the media that it was a good thing he wasn't doing interviews that day.

Cougar coach Kalani Sitake confirmed Tuiaki's impression to the media regarding the notion that the offense won the day, stating, "Defensively, I'm not real happy about it, but (the offense) — I think they probably had the upper hand today."

Offensive highlights included receiver Rickey Shumway making a diving, one-handed catch, Inoke Lotulelei taking a fly sweep for a big gain, and Tariq Buchanan catching a Beau Hoge pass that went for a 46-yard touchdown. The offense celebrated Buchanan's catch, which ended the day's practice session.

However, BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes was cautious when praising his offense.

"We did a lot of good things, but we still have a lot of work to do. A lot of little things," Grimes said. "Things like — we fumbled the ball today, which we're not going to do, at all, and it's unacceptable. That was the first thing I talked to them about."

Grimes listed a number of things he'd like to see get better, including depth on pass routes, footwork, and "little things that make a big difference."

But through it all, the first-year offensive coordinator likes the strides he's seeing from his offense.

"I think it was our best day yet, in terms of practice, but we still have a long, long way to go," Grimes said.

As far as which of BYU's seven quarterbacks are separating themselves, Grimes declined to answer specifically, preferring to review more film until coming to any firm conclusion. A lot of the reps Thursday were given to Hoge and true freshman Zach Wilson.

Wilson is a mid-year transfer from Corner Canyon High, and despite his relative youth, coaches have largely come away impressed, albeit not surprised, by what he's shown so far.

"In his time at Corner Canyon, he made some big plays in a different style of offense," Sitake said. "He worked to graduate early and I think he had this planned at the very beginning — before he even had offers. I'm just glad that he's here with us."

Overall, both Grimes and Sitake expressed satisfaction with all of quarterbacks' progress thus far by grasping and directing a newly implemented offense that Grimes describes as being "multiple, versatile and able to attack a defense in a number of ways."

It's an offense that still has room to fill out, with Grimes mentioning he's installed around 60 percent so far, but ultimately the hope is for balance between the run and pass while being versatile and adaptable when facing different defenses.

"Most offenses that are really successful today are balanced, and we'll be balanced in a number of ways," Grimes said. "It doesn't mean every game we'll be 50/50. There will be some games where we run it a little bit more and games where we pass it a little bit more. We'll take advantage of what a defense gives us."

Grimes ultimately hopes to install 90 percent of his offense by the end of spring, while further evaluating positions. Spring practices have a Friday off for spring break and will get underway again at the start of next week before concluding April 7 with an open scrimmage.


Twitter: @BrandonCGurney