With the self-announced news via Twitter that receiver Devon Blackmon is going to miss the opener due to a suspension, BYU fans will naturally start wondering if coaches moved sophomore Michael Davis back to defensive back too quickly. Davis might have answered that Tuesday morning at training camp, as he stepped in front of a Taysom Hill pass and raced downfield for a pick six.
Meanwhile, when the Cougars did some skelly stuff in the red zone a bit later, seven different receivers caught touchdown passes, showing that the position is still deep and talented without injured juco transfer Nick Kurtz.
David Kessler, Keanu Nelson, Jordan Leslie, Ross Apo, Terenn Houk, Colby Pearson and Devin Mahina (who is actually a tight end) caught the TD throws from Hill (four) and Christian Stewart (three).
The 7-for-8 performance by the offense in the red zone erased memories of a poor showing in the 11-on-11 stuff, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
"So 11 on 11 today, defense was very strong. Once we went to pass skelly, [the] offense was very strong, so really it was our first blue-zone focus day, and so a lot of work to do on 11 on 11 offensively. Pass defense, secondary-wise, needs quite a bit of work."
The highlight of the 11-on-11 drill was freshman Trey Dye’s catch of a Stewart pass that looked like it was going to be over Dye’s head. Hill’s best moment came when he dumped off a swing pass to Algernon Brown, who sprinted some 60 yards to the end zone for a TD.
Hill wasn’t sharp in the Team session, but afterward Mendenhall said the starting QB is having a good camp.
"I think it is not only the work he put in in the offseason, but also the experience he had from a year ago. So, he looks really good to me, and looks right on track," Mendenhall said.
There seems to be a lot more shuffling between the ones and the twos at this camp, but Mendenhall said coaches are actually close to knowing which guys will take the field on Aug. 29 against UConn. Talking about the open scrimmage on Friday at LES (6 p.m.), he said:
"I think we are to that point now. So there are not many evaluations that need to be made that haven’t been made already. And so it will be just one more chance to see the guys play without the coaches standing right behind them and telling them what to do. So it will be more of an assignment and readiness check that way than ability. We have a pretty good idea who we are going to play now."
One surprise in the media viewing portion of practice today was that true freshman Tejan Koroma was running with the ones at center. Prior to Tuesday, Terrance Alletto and Edward Fusi had been splitting time there with the ones.
"Overwhelmed and behind and confused to begin with, and currently running with our number ones at center. He’s doing a really nice job. So, rapid growth, rapid progress. He is really handling it quite well," Mendenhall said of the Texan, who he said is one of the strongest players on the team.
"Our strongest player is probably Brock Stringham. And Tejan was his training partner, and can handle anything Brock can handle as a true freshman," Bronco said.
Asked about three other freshmen — Fred Warner, Troy Hinds and Tyler Cook — Mendenhall said: "I think they will all play this year."
One of the major position battles at fall camp is at safety. Who is going to run with senior returning starter Craig Bills back there?
"I will tell you a player who has done a nice job so far is Kaimana Nacua, which we hadn’t expected that, either. If we had to say today, that is probably the one I would mention that has the inside track at it," Mendenhall said.
The coach also said that Utah transfer Harvey Langi’s position will be Mike (middle) linebacker. "Yes, and he looks really good. He has done a nice job," Mendenhall said.
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