As most followers of BYU know by now, the offense didn't do much against the defense in Saturday's BYU scrimmage, getting only four first downs and failing to score a single point in eight possessions.
But the offense did move the ball a little, especially when senior backup QB James Lark was playing.
Lark threw a little flare pass to Austen Jorgensen that went for 14 yards on his first series, but a penalty negated the gain. A false start on the same series put Lark's offense into another hole.
"I can't speak a lot in terms of what I saw today, but the volume of work this spring, of all the quarterbacks after Riley [Nelson], he has had an excellent spring. I think James has our team's confidence, which is a huge thing. Because now it is not just about how Riley plays. He has elevated his status from the team's perspective. Again, I am speaking about his body of work," said coach Bronco Mendenhall.
Lark delivered one of the better comments of the day, when asked if he's happy to be the backup.
"I mean, obviously, I didn't dream of being a backup quarterback," he said.
ESPN's Andrea Adelson weighed in today on BYU's quarterback situation with this piece about Nelson's emergence and leadership ability.
But Lark also has his teammates' respect, according to sophomore backup center Blair Tushaus, who played every down on Saturday along with sophomore Solomone Kafu and freshman Corbin Kaufusi.
"Lark gives us confidence," Tushaus said. "We all trust him, just like we trust Riley."
Lark easily could have pointed to the offensive line's inexperience (eight or nine of the top 12 were held out) as the reason the offense didn't move the ball consistently Saturday, but didn't.
"I think the offensive line, this was one of the best jobs they have done all spring. We struggled running the ball throughout the spring, and we don't have that many opportunities because we don't have pads on. Today, they proved they can be good. We ran the ball really well, and I felt like pass protection was good. I only remember one play where I had a guy in my face."
Lark's second possession featured some good plays, and some bad ones. Safety Jray Galea'i almost picked off a Lark pass and would have taken it to the house, but he dropped it. Then Lark threw a 14-yard swing pass to Dallin Cutler.
A few plays later, however, Skyler Ridley had Skye PoVey beat down the east sideline, but Lark's throw was off his fingertips, costing the offense a touchdown.
Whatever the case, Lark says he will be ready if Nelson gets hurt and isn't paying much attention to the praise being dished out by the coaches.
"I mean, I am indifferent, honestly. I have learned that when I focus on what other people are doing around me, I don't get better myself. All I can do is focus on getting better and helping my team get better as a whole. I know what I am capable of doing," he said. "It is just football. The more I learn, the better I get, the easier it comes. I used to come out here a couple of years ago and be nervous. I am pretty comfortable now. I have played against our defense for four years, I have seen what they do. I have learned, I have studied, and so I feel comfortable every time I come out here now."
Lark was asked how Nelson, his former roommate, was handling the spectator role on Saturday.
"Riley is a fierce competitor, of course he wanted to be out on the field. But coaches wanted to let some of these other guys get some reps, and let them play some football. Riley is never going to be happy when he's not playing. That's how he is," Lark said.
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