The various 50-yard playing fields were divided between the offensive and defensive units running fast-paced drills, accompanied by the commands of no-nonsense coaches.
It seemed like the perfect time and occasion for Hank Williams’ (Jr.) Monday Night Football musical introduction cry, “Are you ready for some football!”
Despite the intense yells, wide-eyed intensity and excitement in the year, it was all business. The energy in the air alone would have filled the Goodyear blimp if such a thing were possible. There were no smiles on the faces of defensive players as adrenaline-injected drills by Bronco Mendenhall removed all lingering thoughts of summer.
The whole defense chased football-toting Washington State transfer Jared McLaughlin (the rabbit) down the sidelines in designed pursuit drills. Welcome to BYU, Jared. Of course, the Cougars new 6-5, 195 pound sophomore punter, survived to be chased yet another day.
After several walk-throughs and warm-ups that made some newcomers hyperventilate (par for the course with Mendenhall), a horn sounded for the first 11-on-11 non-contact, skeleton drills of fall practice between the offense and defense.
The offense was noticeably better from my experiences in past seasons. The receivers got off the line quicker and out into their routes faster. The quarterbacks didn’t hold the ball as long waiting for plays to develop.
Both Matt Berry and John Beck are going to create a permanent smile Gary Crowton’s face if they continue to play and improve the way they did on Day One.
Berry stood confident completing multiple passes to a large collection of receivers both inside the pocket and out. Beck was equally confident hitting targets as soon as they broke on short and deep routes.
The substantial improvement from Berry and Beck was noticeable right from the start. Granted it wasn’t full contact with hard-charging defensive guys looking to rip their heads of, there was moderate pressure applied and the defensive backs where in full coverage.
A better feel on their timing, confidence, accuracy, and the effectiveness of the offensive line will be determined later in fall camp. All in all, it was a good first day for the quarterbacks and receivers.
Pacing the sidelines in civvies watching drills and scrimmage was Arizona State QB transfer Mike Affleck with a football in hands. He looked eager to be a part of the action.
Also present was defensive tackle Isley Filiaga who, like Affleck, looked pained to be standing on the sidelines instead of suited up on the field. He submitted his high school transcript after passing some needed summer courses at Timpview and is still waiting for final word from the NCAA Clearing House regarding his eligibility status.
The offensive line all looked very fit and raring to go. As practice begins to heat up, the progression of the offensive line will be one that will be closely watched.
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