Provo • Go all out and see what the players can do in a game situation or hold back and keep season-opening opponent Arizona guessing?
That’s the question BYU football coaches face Saturday as they wrap up 2018 spring camp with some live scrimmaging at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Gates open at 10 a.m. and the team will begin practicing around 11 a.m.
Coach Kalani Sitake declined to provide details regarding the event’s format when he last spoke to reporters Monday, but it almost certainly won’t be a full game pitting a blue-clad team against a white-clad team.
“We are kinda down in numbers because we have had such a physical spring camp, but we will see what we can do,” Sitake said. “We don’t have the numbers to split completely into two teams right now.”
Quarterbacks already have been “live” in scrimmages four times, “so the fifth time might be a charm for us, too,” Sitake said. When they are deemed to be “live,” quarterbacks can be hit and tackled.
Most observers believe the Cougars will hold back and very few established players will see much playing time.
What is known is that the weather will be less-than-ideal, just like last year when it rained throughout the proceedings and then-freshman tight end Matt Bushman showed he was a star in the making. Quarterback Tanner Mangum struggled in that scrimmage last March, a precursor to a disappointing junior campaign. He won’t play Saturday, having not been cleared for contact after an Achilles injury suffered last November.
For the other QBs, most notably freshman Zach Wilson, sophomore Joe Critchlow and junior Beau Hoge, it will be an important checkpoint to test their knowledge of the new offense.
“In terms of evaluating those guys, it is a really big deal,” quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick said.
But the focus won’t just be on the quarterbacks. There have been plenty of defensive changes as well, Sitake said.
“I think it will be fun,” he said. “The guys can empty the tank. … It is the end [of camp] and they can exit out and give everything they have. We will play a certain type of defense that is going to include everything. I think we just want to see our guys execute cleanly and focus on the fundamental part of the game and finish strong. We will see how it works.”
Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes said Monday that they were “close” to having enough offensive linemen to stage a full game.
“We have a couple guys kinda on the border as to whether they could go live if we were to have that game today,” he said Monday.
The west parking lot will be open for tailgating at 8 a.m. and parking is free. The first 5,000 fans through the gates will receive a free football poster featuring this year’s team.
Where • LaVell Edwards Stadium
When • 11 a.m. Saturday (Gates open at 10 a.m.)
Admission • Free