Nov 9, 2013; Madison, WI, USA; Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill (4) throws a pass during warmups prior to the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

BYU Football Fall Camp 2014: 10 Observations from Friday's Scrimmage

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After attending Friday night’s scrimmage, here are 10 observations.

  • Taysom Hill struggled

Tonight was not a good night for Taysom. The junior quarterback looked great as a runner –no surprise there-, but Hill’s passing left many with questions.

There’s no question that Taysom is BYU’s starting quarterback in 2014, but has Taysom improved enough as a passer to give the go fast, go hard offense balance on a week-to-week basis? Anyone that thinks Taysom is going to be limited to 10 carries a game is kidding himself or herself at this point. He’s going to run, and he’s going to run often. Is that a good thing? We shall see. Next to Jamaal Williams, Hill is probably BYU’s second most reliable rusher.

A lot of credit has to go to the BYU defense that played great tonight, but some of Taysom’s decisions were that of a quarterback we saw in Charlottesville last fall. Not reading progressions, making ill advised passes, holding on to the ball too long, and fumbles at the line of scrimmage. It wasn’t Taysom’s best night to say the least.

  • Christian Stewart is better than you think

I’m going to preface this; Taysom is BYU’s best quarterback. Don’t let one scrimmage make you think otherwise. If BYU has any hopes to be in the national conversation, Taysom is your guy. But BYU fans should feel confident that they have a capable backup quarterback if an injury to Hill was to happen.

Stewart has deceptive speed out of the pocket. He will surprise you how quick he can roll out. He has a good arm and it felt like every other pass he threw was a deep-ball that went 30+ yards. Stewart is very confident dropping back in the pocket to throw the rock. Something BYU fans haven’t seen since the second half of Jake Heaps’ freshman season in 2014.

  • 2-5-4 on defense?

BYU’s defense had a good night. Between the two sides of the ball, the defensive unit was the clear-cut winner tonight. There were a few plays during the scrimmage that BYU lined up five linebackers, and only two defensive linemen.

Definitely a unique scheme if it was to play out in an actual game. Does this speak to some of the depth concerns along the defensive line, or does it speak to the talent and confidence coaches have at linebacker?

  • Jordan Preator will see game-action at cornerback

Had you told me that two of BYU’s top cornerbacks heading into the opener against UConn would be former wide receiver Michael Davis and Fremont High product, Jordan Preator, I would have then expected you to drop a Bronco-ism and say, that was a joke by the way!

But it’s not a joke. Davis appears to be firmly entrenched in the two-deep, and Preator was seeing time with the first-team defense tonight.

Robertson Daniel is clearly injured and who knows what the status is with Jordan Johnson in week one. There’s an opening for Preator, and defensive coordinator Nick Howell is high on him.

Expect Preator to be seeing game reps against UConn.

  • Offensive Line latest

Starting lineup at offensive line in the scrimmage:

LT – Brad Wilcox

LG – Kyle Johnson

C – Edward Fusi

RG – Brock Stringham

RT – De’Ondre Wesley

With how many plays that BYU’s offense will run in a game, Mendenhall wants to have up to 10 offensive linemen available to play on any given Saturday. At what point though will this offensive line have five guys emerge as BYU’s starters? This is a position that needs continuity. Wesley has been a lock at tackle since winter conditioning, and Kyle Johnson is emerging as the leader at left guard. Who are the rest?

Tejan Koroma needs to be the center in week one. He’s already surpassed Edward Fusi. Koroma might be a true freshman but he’s already the strongest player on the team, and he’s quick off the line of the scrimmage.  Also, he brings nastiness to the line.  Koroma was booted for unsportsmanlike conduct during the scrimmage.

At the opposite tackle my bet would be on Ului Lapuaho, and at right guard Brayden Kearsley.

  • Kicking Game

Trevor Samson kicked a 35-yard field goal with ease. “Moose” Bingham made an extra point. At this point, there’s no clear-cut leader.  All of them have done okay.  But nothing special.  Trevor Samson is probably the best option for kickoffs.

  • Return game is going to be electrifying

Devon Blackmon and Jordan Leslie were the starting kick returners tonight. Blackmon muffed the ball on one kick, but then on another return, had it not been for refs whistling the play dead, Blackmon would have returned the kick to the end zone.

Keanu Nelson and Adam Hine were the second string returners.

Special Teams have always been an area of focus under Mendenhall, this group could be a legitimate game-changer for BYU this season.

  • Jamaal Williams is ready for a record campaign

For someone that has averaged over 1,000 rushing yards a year through two seasons, the question becomes, what’s next?

We are getting our answer so far. Just watching Jamaal through fall camp, he’s faster and stronger. You can also tell he feels confident that anytime he carries the ball, it’s going to end up in positive yardage. He’s going to have a big season. It’s a shame that he isn’t available for the UConn game, but I get the sense that this suspension is motivating him to hit the ground running when the Cougars take on Texas in week two.

After Jamaal, there’s a significant drop at the running back position.  Algie Brown is still behind the curve compared to the rest of the team.  He’s going to be the starter against UConn still because he’s better than the rest of the running backs after Jamaal.  After Algie, Nate Carter was the most impressive on Friday night.

  • What’s the logic behind the music?

Throughout fall camp the Cougars have been playing music throughout practices. Tonight’s scrimmage was no different. Throughout the one-hour scrimmage artists like Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and that no place I’d rather be song were blaring through the speakers in LaVell Edwards Stadium.

I’m curious what the logic is behind this music throughout camp. Music isn’t going to play when the Cougars are playing on the road at UConn or Texas. Maybe having simulated crowd noises would be a better option. It’s an odd feeling watching BYU Football while a One Republic song is blaring, I must say.

  • This team is better than last year, but isn’t invincible.

Due to BYU’s schedule in 2014, many have naturally assumed that this team will win 10+ games. They should. The talent is there for them to do it, but this team needs to clean up some mistakes before the opener against UConn in two weeks.

There are a lot of new faces that this team is looking upon to give significant contributions. Things will take time, and there will be ups and downs. This team is headed in the right direction but if anyone thinks week one against the Huskies will be a walk in the park, they might be in for a surprise.

There’s still work to be done before we assume this program gets back to the 10-win threshold.

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