Provo • Reports of the demise of BYU’s offense in 2017 might have been exaggerated. That, or BYU’s defense isn’t quite as dominant as expected.
Head coach Kalani Sitake delivered his report from Saturday’s closed scrimmage after practice on Monday afternoon, saying the offense won the day against a veteran defense that was playing without standout junior defensive end Sione Takitaki.
“It was a really good scrimmage,” Sitake said. “The offense did much better, especially for the first time being live. They had some good drives. A couple of mistakes, but I thought they did better than I anticipated. I think they got the better of the scrimmage, if I were to evaluate everything and analyze it.”
Sitake said linebacker-turned-running back Kavika Fonua played well, along with quarterbacks Tanner Mangum and Beau Hoge, receivers Talon Shumway and Beau Tanner, all the tight ends and the entire offensive line.
“I was a good day for the offense,” he said.
As for the defense, Sitake said the defensive line did some good things, but “the technique wasn’t good enough” and the offense scored a lot of points. He singled out freshman defensive end Langi Tuifua as having a good day, and said 410-pound defensive tackle Mo Langi “gets better every day in every practice.”
Overall, Sitake said he is pleased with the way the team is working and noted another scrimmage will be held Thursday at the stadium.
“Our guys are getting excited,” he said. “They want to play the [Portland State] game already. We just keep them anxious for the game, and excited, and when it comes we will let them fly.”
Is Hoge emerging as Mangum’s backup?
Sitake and offensive coordinator Ty Detmer continue to say there’s plenty of time before they have to decide on Mangum’s primary backup quarterback, but Sitake hinted Monday that Hoge, a redshirt sophomore, might have the inside track.
“I thought Beau Hoge did some good things in the backup role as the second-team quarterback [in the scrimmage],” Sitake said. “Koy [Detmer] and Joe [Critchlow] and Kody [Wilstead] and the rest of them, they just gotta keep working and keep at it. … If they keep progressing, it is going to be hard to choose.”
Hall hopes for more of the same in 2017
Sophomore KJ Hall, son of former BYU great Kalin Hall, rushed for 101 yards in his first career start last year, against UMass. He was pressed into action when Jamaal Williams and Squally Canada were injured, and made the most of his opportunities.
The shortest player on the team, who finished the season with 184 rushing yards, 78 receiving yards, and two touchdowns is ready to post bigger and better numbers this year, but is in the logjam at tailback.
“Last year definitely helped me to get comfortable in the offense, to get live reps against someone who is actually trying to tackle us, instead of in practice where it is not too intense,” Hall said. “We are not hitting every day, we are not tackling every day. So to get live reps helped me as far as confidence. Yeah, I think it has helped me a lot.”
Hall’s calling card is his versatility, he believes. He is probably the best pass-catcher of all the running backs.