PROVO — Senior running back Ty'Son Williams was a standout during BYU’s scrimmage Saturday afternoon at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Well, at least that’s what coaches and players told reporters afterward about the 107-play scrimmage, which was closed to the media.

“Ty’Son Williams did really well today,” said coach Kalani Sitake, who added that the grad transfer from South Carolina is emerging as a team leader. “He’s starting to feel comfortable in the program.”

“He’s exactly what we’re looking for in a back. He’s an all-purpose back. He can run, he can catch, he can block,” said offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes. “He’s a willing blocker and a lot of tailbacks don’t like that. He showed the ability today to break a tackle or make a guy miss. You think you have that in a back but you don’t really know until you go live. A couple of our other backs did the same thing. He certainly did a nice job.”

Said Williams, "I feel like I was going pretty good in my runs. But I feel like we did good as a unit, as an offense. That's most important."

It was nice to see the guys get out there and play some physical football and make some plays. I was really encouraged by what I’ve seen, especially with the physical part of our team. – BYU coach Kalani Sitake

The scrimmage featured 75 live reps, Sitake said. But several presumed starters were held out of the action as a precautionary measure, including tight end Matt Bushman on offense. Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki sidelined cornerback Dayan Ghanwoloku; linebackers Zayne Anderson and Isaiah Kaufusi; defensive linemen Zac Dawe, Khyiris Tonga, Bracken El-Bakri and Trajan Pili; and safeties Austin Lee and Sawyer Powell.

“We’d be a different defense if we lost any of those guys in a scrimmage,” Tuiaki said. “We’ve got to get those guys to the Utah game. That’s the most important thing.”

But much of the talk after the scrimmage centered around the running backs — Williams, sophomore Lopini Katoa and senior Emmanuel Esukpa, a grad transfer from Rice.

“It’s a really good group of running backs,” Sitake said. “Coach (AJ) Steward has done an amazing job getting them ready for the season.”

“Ty’Son Williams stood out to me just because I hadn’t seen him play before,” said sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson. “Katoa is a stud but he was with us last year and I know he’s a hardworking kid and he’s a great running back for us.”

What does Williams bring to the offense?

“You can tell that this dude (Williams) is a football player. He knows what he’s doing, whether he knows the playbook or not because it’s brand-new,” said Wilson. “He’s a football player. He knows how to run the ball. He’s definitely that kid that wants to make sure he’s getting extra work learning the plays because he knows how important that is.”

“From what I can tell, the guy’s a special player,” Sitake said of Williams. “I also think (Esukpa) is the same way. Those three guys do well together. They complement each other. It’s a good group of three.”

How did Wilson fare on Saturday?

“I thought he did well overall,” Grimes said. “Like every player, there were probably a couple of plays he wished he had back. Overall, his completion percentage was high and he operated really clean for the most part.”

Wilson liked what he is seeing from the receivers.

“I thought the receivers did a great job knowing what routes they’re supposed to run, how they’re supposed to run the routes and making plays on the ball,” Wilson said.

On defense, there are some position battles taking place.

“There is some competition in certain spots where we’ve got to make sure those guys have opportunities to show in real tackle football what they can do,” Tuiaki said. “Some guys took steps forward and some guys took steps backward. We’ll continue to shuffle the depth chart around.”

At middle linebacker, Payton Wilgar, Kavika Fonua, Jackson Kaufusi and Keenan Pili are competing for the starting job.

“We’ve got the guys who can play,” Tuaiki said. “It’s about buckling down on who the starter is. We have four guys that are capable of doing it.”

With a little more than two weeks until the season opens against Utah, Saturday’s scrimmage provided Sitake with a glimpse of what the Cougars can be.

“It was nice to see the guys get out there and play some physical football and make some plays,” he said. “I was really encouraged by what I’ve seen, especially with the physical part of our team. That’s going to be really exciting for us when these guys take the field. I liked what I saw from both sides.”