BYU football: Cougars conduct second scrimmage of fall camp, and offense wins the day again
Playing without several key starters, BYU’s defense fares better than a week ago, but receiver Dax Milne says passing the football in Friday’s team sessions ‘was easy money’ for the Cougars’ talented trio of quarterbacks
PROVO — While every other college football team in the West continued to absorb the thought of not playing this fall, the BYU Cougars wrapped up their second week of preseason training camp on Friday with a spirited, 75-play scrimmage at the outdoor practice field.
“We understand it is blessing because not everyone else has been able to do this right now so far and so we are just taking what we can get,” said junior Dax Milne.
The receiver was also grateful because, for the second straight scrimmage that was not open to the media or the general public, the offense reportedly won the day. At least, that was the version of events mostly described by Milne and head coach Kalani Sitake. Defensive lineman Zac Dawe saw it a bit differently.
“We got guys stepping up, so I think there is a good, competitive flow going through the defense right now and we are deep as far as just how many players we have,” Dawe said. “I think we are healthy and we are ready to go.”
“I am an offensive guy, so of course I am going to praise the offense. Defense is coming along, but honestly we were pounding the ball in the run game, and then when we would go pass game, it was just easy money, honestly, so I am liking the direction we are headed.” — BYU receiver Dax Milne
Having said Monday that the offense clearly dominated the first scrimmage, held the week prior, Sitake hinted it was more of the same Friday, but quickly noted that some established defensive players, such as senior nose tackle Khyiris Tonga, were held out and mostly freshmen and sophomores manned the defensive line.
“Pleased with what I saw from the team,” Sitake said. “ It was good to see the guys tackle a little bit and to see the offense march down the field, and for our defense to get some stops. It was good. … If you are looking at it, give the edge to the offense.”
“I would say all the offense did a really good job with the (first-team) offensive line,” Sitake said. “Whoever was with that No. 1 O line, they might have scored on every drive, which is good.”
Told of his coach’s assessment, Milne said Sitake would get no argument from him.
“Today when we were scrimmaging, the offense had a great day,” Milne said in a video conference with reporters. “And I am an offensive guy, so of course I am going to praise the offense. Defense is coming along, but honestly we were pounding the ball in the run game, and then when we would go pass game, it was just easy money, honestly, so I am liking the direction we are headed.”
Milne said sophomore running back Tyler Allgeier’s “amazing” runs were the biggest highlights for the offense.
“He broke off for a couple big ones, and it was impressive to see,” Milne said. “When I am on the sidelines watching, or blocking downfield, and I see him make a couple guys miss, or run though some guys, I am impressed.”
Sitake praised Allgeier’s playmaking and tackle-breaking ability, and said junior Lopini Katoa, redshirt freshman Jackson McChesney and junior college transfer Hinckley Ropati also ran the ball well. Luc Andrada (receiver) and Javelle Brown (defensive back), who played different positions last year, also got carries in their new roles.
“So the run game was really nice, and the pass game was on point,” Sitake said. “I thought Zach (Wilson) and Jaren (Hall) and Baylor (Romney) threw the ball really well. Sol-Jay (Maiava) was also throwing the ball really well, and had some good moves.”
As for the defense, Sitake said the “bodies are there,” and so is the depth. He said reserve defensive linemen such as Gabe Summers, Seleti Fevaleaki, Tyler Batty and Fisher Jackson did make some plays, but any D-line is going to struggle “going up against a physical offensive line like we have.”
Sitake and Dawe said the defenders did manage to get some stops, forced some turnovers, and delivered some memorable hits.
“We had some guys limping around after some striking today; we had some tackles that were really violent,” Sitake said. “Guys got up and limped off and I am like, ‘are you OK?’ And they are, ‘yup, loving it.’ These guys are having fun with it. They have an opportunity to feel sore right now and recover. … This is the leadership of our team taking over. And the reason why it is a lot of fun is because they are good human beings who appreciate where they are at and have a lot of gratitude in the way they approach things.”
Dawe knows all about this veteran BYU offensive line’s ability. He’s faced most of these guys in practice for four years now.
“I have to give a lot of credit to the offensive line,” Dawe said. “All the way across they are thick, they are strong, and if you have never seen them in person, they are monsters. They are modern-day Goliaths. They are all strong, they are all fit. … We have a lot of good skill players, but the offensive line — I don’t think we have had as good of an offensive line the last couple of years as we do this year.”