Provo • It would be easy to proclaim that BYU’s offense is way ahead of its defense exactly two weeks away from the opener against Washington State, after the guys with the football scored five touchdowns in 10 possessions Thursday in a scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
But as feisty defensive stalwarts such as Kyle Van Noy, Brandon Ogletree and Eathyn Manumaleuna could point out, many of the frontline defensive players didn’t see action, a result of coach Bronco Mendenhall’s philosophy that it is better to not play and stay healthy than play even a little bit, and risk injury.
BYU scrimmage highlights
» With most of the first-team offense going against most of the second-team defense, quarterback Riley Nelson goes 10 for 16 for 169 yards and a touchdown.
» Running back Adam Hine makes up for an early fumble with 117 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
» Playing together for the first time all camp, the probable starting offensive line of Braden Brown, Brock Stringham, Houston Reynolds, Braden Hansen and Ryker Mathews dominates, albeit against the second-team defense.
Also, it wasn’t like the first-team defense was giving up all those yards to Riley Nelson and the probable starting offensive line, all together for the first time this month. Generally, first-teamers went against second-teamers and vice versa — at least until later in the scrimmage when third- and fourth-stringers got in.
So everyone won, in a way, and "we had a little fun," which was Mendenhall’s intent.
Highly unofficial score, with one unattempted PAT conceded: First-teamers 21, Second-teamers 14.
Nelson directed three touchdown drives, while his backup, who is also a senior, James Lark, directed two. Taysom Hill and Jason Munns got one series each, but didn’t score, as Hill was sacked twice and Munns sacked by Matt Hadley near the red zone to end the scrimmage and keep the second-teamers from drawing even.
To be fair, the quarterbacks were without some of their top weapons as well, including receiver Ross Apo and running back Mike Alisa.
"Good to have guys cheering for each other a little bit," Mendenhall said. "And a fairly clean conclusion to really what camp is going to be … and no injuries today, which is [good]. Man, you kind of keep your fingers crossed, but we held out quite a few players to make sure that didn’t happen. So yeah, overall a good day, I think."
There might not be another coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision that worries more about injuries in preseason camp than Mendenhall, as Thursday’s get-together showed.
"We have all hit before," said receiver JD Falslev, defending Mendenhall’s approach. "We are all Division I college football players. We have all been hit. We all know how to hit. So we don’t need to do that day in and day out to realize we are football players."
Actually, there was plenty of hitting Thursday in roughly 62 plays from scrimmage. The offensive linemen — especially projected starters Ryker Mathews (LT), Braden Hansen (LG), Houston Reynolds (C), Brock Stringham (RG) and Braden Brown (RT) — showed well, along with running backs Adam Hine (117 yards, 1 TD) and David Foote (36 total yards).
"I liked the offensive line and the running backs," Mendenhall said. "I thought the run game looked really good. … I liked that part a lot."
The hero of last week’s scrimmage, freshman running back Jamaal Williams, couldn’t go, due to an ankle sprain from Tuesday. That left Hine a golden opportunity to show what he could do, and he delivered an above-average performance, despite an early fumble.
"My role hasn’t been made known to me yet," Hine said. "But whatever the coaches like, that’s my role."
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