Defense Rebounds to Dominate Wednesday Practice
<b>AARON FRANCISCO</b>
AARON FRANCISCO
TBS Managing Editor
Posted Aug 18, 2004


The BYU defense came back with a vengeance and dominated drills against the offense Wednesday morning in practice after apparent weaknesses were exposed Tuesday in an 88-play full contact scrimmage.

“Yesterday, I think we came out flat,” said senior cornerback b><Brandon Heaney, who was held out of the scrimmage as a precaution. “We didn’t have the mindset coming out yesterday that Mendenhall likes us to come out with. We made the effort today to come out with a better mindset and I think we did just that.”

The intensity of today’s action erupted in a minor boil during the two-minute offense drill when offensive lineman Scott Young and linebacker Justin Luettgerodt mixed it up and had to be separated. Both regained their composure and were back in action on the very next down.

BYU head coach Gary Crowton noted after practice, “The defense is always intense. I don’t think they were necessarily not intense yesterday. We just had good timing offensively as a unit. The defense did well today. I don’t know if their intensity was up more, but they just performed better. A lot of it was because of the drill. They’re very good as a unit defending the two-minute drill, so seeing them have success against that drill wasn’t all that surprising.”

Cougarback Aaron Francisco delivered a forceful hit on freshman receiver Antwaun Harris across the middle, forcing an incompletion, while Luettgerodt knocked down a pass intended for sophomore tight end Daniel Coats over the middle. Senior cornerback Micah Alba also deflected a pass to receiver Rod Wilkerson along the sideline and Ryan Beck intercepted a pass.

Sophomore linebacker Cameron Jensen did now any lingering signs of an ankle sprain last week, getting to the quarterback three times during the drill. Incoming JC sophomore linebacker Gary Lovely showed his athleticism, knocking down a pass at the line of scrimmage.

Heaney added: “We knew what we had to change today going in. I think we did that today on the field during drills. Mendenhall told us we needed to change our mindset and had to come out better and with more intensity. I think we did that today. We shut them down pretty well so I’m happy about that.”

It was not all defense as the offense also had its moments, albeit few and afar between. Receiver Riley Weber made a nice sliding catch on a sideline route; Todd Watkins caught a well-thrown fly pattern from John Beck; and Matt Berry threw a great post corner route to Austin Collie for a 40-yard gain.

On the final play of the drill, with the offense facing a third and long, the defensive reserves started yelling on the sidelines – rallying the first team starters to stop the offense. Watkins counter-responded vocally for the offense. On the play, John Beck was flushed out of the pocket and threw an interception right into the arms of Francisco. The defense trash-talked the offense all the way to the final huddle where Crowton gave an impassioned speech to his young charges.

“It was an effective drill and I was happy about it,” Crowton commented. The defense was up again intensity-wise and they’re very good at that drill. We had better timing yesterday than we did today offensively, but the defense was tough. It was good to see them get after it like that,” he said.

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