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BYU's Grimes looking for more poise and better execution from the offense

PROVO — Because of inclement weather, BYU coach Kalani Sitake moved Friday’s scrimmage from LaVell Edwards Stadium to the Indoor Practice Facility.

That meant that nobody could blame the rain for all the miscues that took place, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes was not happy about the plethora of errors in terms of ball security and penalties.

“I was pleased with our energy. I was pleased with the way the guys competed. I think they came out and played it like a game, which is a positive. But way too many mistakes, far more than we’ve had in any practice to this point,” Grimes said. “Sometimes you call it a scrimmage and you actually move the ball and anxiety rises, particularly with some young players. We had a lot of that today. We had three balls on the ground, which is obviously way too many. One was a fumbled exchange (between the center and quarterback), one was a (running) back getting hit on the ball going in to score. That sort of thing will cost us games. We’re going to make a really strong point about that. Those guys know if they can’t hang on to the football, they won’t be playing. We had five false starts, I think. No excuse for that.”

Grimes’ message for the offense after the scrimmage?

“The thing I told them at the end is, ‘We’ve got plenty of talent here. It’s not an issue of talent that’s right here. It’s a matter of guys being able to play with energy and poise at the same time,’” he said. “We’ve got to the point where we’re coming to practice with passion, energy and enthusiasm. Guys are playing with great effort. Now we’ve got to play with a little more poise and execute better.”

Quarterbacks Joe Critchlow, Beau Hoge and Zach Wilson took the majority of snaps Friday. Once again, like last week's scrimmage, they were “live,” and not protected, meaning they could get tackled.

“It’s the only way you can really find out what a guy has both as a runner and we find out a whole lot about what he’s made of in terms of timing and getting rid of the ball and being willing to stand in and take a hit and throw it rather than duck it and scramble,” Grimes explained. “We had too much scrambling around today. Way too often quarterbacks are not reading the progressions properly or getting the ball out on time.”

“It’s good for them to get hit and I think they’re getting used to it,” Sitake said of the quarterbacks. “It’s easy for the defense to assume that they’re going to take every quarterback down. But we didn’t get one sack. We missed sacks. That’s the best way for us to get a look at who can play quarterback for us — have them compete and be live.”

As far as highlights during Friday's scrimmage, Sitake liked what he saw from the running backs — including Squally Canada (who had a couple of touchdown runs), Zachary Katoa, Kavika Fonua and Riley Burt — as well as the offensive line.

“The O-line did a good job getting a push up front,” he said. “For the most part, the O-line did a great job of getting holes open.”

The running backs are improving, according to Grimes.

“I don’t think anyone has really stepped out yet and proven that they’re the guy,” he said. “But I like the progress they’re making. Coach (AJ) Steward is going a great job with those guys — building their mindset first, developing toughness, willingness to block and reliability. For those guys, they’re doing a lot of things in the run game that are a little bit different than what they’ve done before.”

Cougar safety Austin Lee said the team is enjoying spring ball.

“It’s fun — a lot of energy, high tempo. Things are getting done. People are competing and that’s the biggest thing that is so fun about it,” he said. “It’s competition. Everyone is competing to start. Everyone’s competing — offense versus defense. It’s a lot of competition and it’s a lot of energy and people are having fun.”

NOTES: The scrimmage revealed one key position change as Austin Kafentzis has moved from running back to safety … Freshman tight end Joe Tukuafu was held out Friday. He was sporting a brace on his right hand … Wide receiver Gunner Romney, who signed with BYU in February, attended Friday’s scrimmage as did former BYU offensive line coaches Mike Empey and Lance Reynolds.