Did the offense or defense perform better in BYU’s first full scrimmage of fall camp?
The Cougars still haven’t chosen a starting QB, but coaches say the ‘picture is clearing up’ and some separation is starting to take place
BYU’s first scrimmage of preseason training camp, held Saturday in front of a handful of family members at LaVell Edwards Stadium, didn’t produce the answer at starting quarterback that all of Cougar Nation is waiting on.
No surprise there.
But offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick did sing the praises of one particular offensive player, a running back who appears to be moving up the depth chart and quite likely will be pushing established stars Lopini Katoa and Tyler Allgeier for playing time once the season begins.
That would be redshirt freshman Miles Davis, not the famed Jazz musician, but the Las Vegas product who carried the ball 15 times last year for 96 yards and two touchdowns.
“That guy is a good player, and he is going to play for us. That is one (thing) I will tell you,” Roderick said. “That needs to be said. That guy stands out every time he plays. Same thing happened last year as a freshman. He would get in games and he was playing at a different speed than everybody else. And he does something good every day.”
As far as the battle between Jaren Hall, Baylor Romney and Jacob Conover to be the starter when the Cougars line up against Arizona on Sept. 4 in Las Vegas is concerned, neither Roderick nor head coach Kalani Sitake said much regarding which quarterback stood out following the 90-play live scrimmage in full pads.
Roderick did say, though, that the competition is sorting itself out and “starting to become more clear each day.”
He added that Saturday’s activities “pretty much stayed true to the pattern that we have been seeing up to this point in practice. … All three of them did some good things today. I know that is a boring answer for you guys, but they are playing good. We have got a good group.”
“I will say this: Jaren and Baylor look like veteran QBs. They run our offense efficiently. And then Conover’s got his moments. … I don’t like to compare anybody to anybody, but he is most like Zach (Wilson) when he was young. Some of the plays he makes are really big plays. And then some of the mistakes he makes are just young mistakes. They are things that get fixed with time.”
Still, Roderick said, Conover’s upside is really high.
“He’s an intriguing dude. He’s a good player. So it is just fun having the contrast there of the the two veterans that really know what they are doing, and run the show, with the young guy that has the super bright future that is a really explosive kid.”
Sitake said he can’t say which QB stood out until he watches the video, but acknowledged some interceptions were thrown — walk-on freshman defensive back Ethan Slade made two picks himself — turnovers he attributed to the defense making plays.
“It was a good day, a great day of work,” Sitake said. “So overall, I thought we got everything we needed. Obviously, we had some guys get banged up, but nobody out for the year. So we will just keep working with it.”
As is customary in camp scrimmages, a lot of experienced players were held out, including Allgeier and Katoa — at least during the tackling portion of the scrimmage.
Because those stars didn’t play, safeties coach Ed Lamb wasn’t ready to pronounce the defense as having won the day, but the assistant head coach did say the defenders at least held their own.
“The defensive players are certainly going to come away from this feeling like they kept the offense off the scoreboard through the majority of what we would call the ones and twos (facing off),” he said. “The defense had the upper hand, or kept the offense out of the end zone.”
Sitake said the defense is “normally further ahead at this point of camp,” but insisted he saw good things on both sides of the ball.
“I thought overall there were some good things and some things we can definitely work on in all three phases,” Sitake said.
Lamb said he was impressed with how stout the defensive line was and said the Cougars have “great depth” at the tackle position. In addition to Slade’s interceptions, he singled out the play of defensive tackles Atunaisa Mahe and Caden Haws and said freshman walk-on Joshua Singh of Orem High “played himself right into the conversation for a rotation spot, in my opinion.”
From the video BYU distributed, defensive backs Matthew Criddle and Quenton Rice had pass breakups.
Offensively, Sitake said it was good to see running backs Davis, Hinckley Ropati and Mason Fakahua show what they can do, and pass protection “was decent,” for the most part. Penalties were held to a minimum, but there were some “substitution issues” that will have to be cleaned up.
“Give a lot of credit to our coordinators and coaches for communicating well and being a little bit more game ready,” Sitake said. “You usually see more mistakes than that. But they’ve been able to learn and make a lot of corrections along the way in the first practices leading up to the scrimmage.”
Roderick said he’s never fully satisfied with how the offense is performing, but acknowledged, “we are on track to being good.”
The first-year OC said 95% of the offense has been installed.
“We have sort of identified who our best players are. The next week or so we will be fine-tuning things where we will be thinking more about getting the ball to the right people in the right places,” Roderick said. “As we get deeper into camp we will start featuring our best players, doing the things that they do best.”
And figuring out who that starting quarterback is going to be.