BYU’s first scrimmage notebook: Offensive line still in the lurch, Miles Davis makes impression, five QBs get reps

BYU’s first scrimmage of training camp gives few answers as position battles grind on

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Quarterback Jacob Conover runs a play during a scrimmage, on day 1 of BYU football Fall Camp, on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022.

Here is what we know after BYU’s first scrimmage: Everything is pretty much status quo.

The remaining position battles grind on. The injury prevention techniques continue. And the younger guys fighting to get on the travel roster are still auditioning.

There were no major announcements to conclude any of these ongoing questions this Saturday. Media were not allowed to view the scrimmage, but coaches and players were made available after.

Here are the major notes out of BYU’s first live action of the year.

Offensive line still not settled

Darrell Funk started this week off by saying he would like to have the offensive line starters settled by the end of the week.

It seems that timeline will be pushed back until next weekend.

Offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said BYU heavily rotated the linemen on Saturday and was not prepared to name starters. BYU will likely end up playing eight guys on the offensive line during week one. It is just a matter of what positions they will play and the distribution of those snaps.

“I can’t give you any definitive answers from the scrimmage on those guys,” Roderick said. “We are rotating them in so much that half the time I don’t even know who is in. We will watch the film and learn about who played well and who didn’t.”

Funk mentioned earlier that the only position he feels comfortable locking down right now is left guard. Clark Barrington will man that position. Blake Freeland will also likely start at left tackle.

“Clark is probably the only one to me, based on his play last year, [that is locked in]” Funk said on Monday. “Really other than left guard, we are still looking for the lineup.”

BYU has about eight guys it feels can vie for a starting position. Freshman Kingsley Suamatia has made the push at multiple positions.

“I can play all of the positions,” Suamatia told The Salt Lake Tribune. “It’s just wherever coach puts me. Just where I can help the team the best.”

With the importance of chemistry on the offensive line, there is urgency to get this figured out. Roderick said the staff will have a better picture by next week’s scrimmage.

Splitting the reps

Five quarterbacks got snaps durning the opening scrimmage, with Jaren Hall taking the bulk of the work.

Hall had about 25 snaps, according to Roderick. Jacob Conover and Cade Fennegan had 20 snaps. Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters and Nick Billops got around 12 snaps apiece.

Roderick was pleased with Fennegan’s and Conover’s command over the offense. Multiple coaches mentioned that Conover has progressed steadily from the spring, to be the clear-cut backup to Hall.

Fennegan was limited due to injury in the spring, but has made plays in the fall camp with reps with the second unit.

“Both of those guys made some good throws,” Roderick said. “Cade made some good plays, so did Jacob.”

Hall did not play as much as he might in the second scrimmage, but Roderick was pleased.

“At the quarterback position it is important to show you have good command and know what you are doing with the football,” Roderick said. “I thought we took good care of the football. That was all the guys. We had one play all day that you could say was nearly a turnover.”

Miles Davis gets a chance

BYU ran about 85 snaps in the scrimmage, the last 40 with live tackling.

The coaching staff held out most veteran players from live tackling, letting the younger players get used to the physicality of the college game.

“There are guys that need that work,” head coach Kalani Sitake said. “We want to see [the younger players] in real [setting]. Then there are [older guys] that need to keep improving, but I don’t need to see play a full live scrimmage.”

With the opportunities for the younger players, running back Miles Davis and wide receiver Tanner Wall were mentioned as guys who stood out.

Davis is currently fighting to be the third-string running back with Jackson McChensey. The starter, Chris Brooks, is a fifth-year senior and only had a couple of live reps.

Wall is fighting to be a key cog in the wide receivers room. Roderick said Wall will likely be at least on special teams, if he cannot break into the deep room.

Holding out

BYU continues to limit veteran players in fall camp to get everyone healthy for the first week of the season.

That continued with the scrimmage, with offensive starters like Gunner Romney, Puka Nacua and Dallin Holker sitting out.

They will likely play next week during the scrimmage.

On defense, Keenan Pili sat out on Saturday as a precautionary measure.