In the late-afternoon heat of early August, BYU football players in uniform scattered across the grass of the outdoor practice facility, sweating and pushing themselves as they ran plays, ran drills and ran into each other.
It lasted long enough and was tough enough that Cougar head coach Bronco Mendenhall actually thought the staff had pushed the athletes too hard for Day 1.
"Already my comments with the coaches when we came off the field were that I thought we went a little bit too much, but they handled it well," Mendenhall said. "I didn't intend to push them that hard until four or five or six days from now. But as usual, coaches get excited and we asked a little too much of them, but they handled it well, especially considering that they did their conditioning tests this morning."
Cougar defensive coordinator Nick Howell, however, wasn't about to give the guys a pass.
"I thought it was kind of a first day," Howell said. "I thought we could've tried a little harder. I think that there was a little fall off because of the heat, the time we were out there, probably the conditioning test and not knowing exactly what they were supposed to do, but I would like to see our effort increase. I would've liked to see a little more today, but it was pretty good."
The players overall seemed OK with how they did on Friday, although certainly no one thinks this means they can cruise through the next four weeks.
"I was happy with it," BYU junior quarterback Taysom Hill said. "I was glad to be back out on the field. It wasn't as clean as I would've liked it to be but looking at where we are at, it's to be expected."
On the defensive side, Cougar senior safety Craig Bills said there are plenty of things to work on.
"Looking at tomorrow, I think we need to be more energetic at the beginning, just more ready to go out there and play," Bills said. "I think we had more energy toward the team periods at the end, but starting off it felt like it was kind of sluggish. I hope we focus more on just being excited and happy to be out there."
It's all just part of the way camp opens every year, according to Mendenhall.
"First days are always fun," Mendenhall said. "There is all kinds of energy and excitement. Our team is really anxious to play. A lot of today could've been spent holding back but we let them go. There was not much extracurricular, which is good considering how hard they practiced. I think our team is hungry, I think they have a chip on their shoulder, I think they feel like they have a lot to prove and I was impressed today."
The offense was able to have some success moving the ball, including going deep a number of times. In the short team session at the end of practice, the big play was a 50-yard touchdown from Hill to wide receiver Nick Kurtz.
While the quarterback and receivers were pretty excited about those big plays, Bills and the defense are fired up to change that.
"It's competition," Bills said. "I was frustrated with how many touchdowns they scored. I know it's the first day but you can't stand that. In the same sense, that's our team. We're trying to correct our defense on what we need to do, but you've got to pat the guys on the butt because they are working hard too."
BYU will be back on the field at the outdoor practice facility Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. in a practice that is open to the public.