That’s how BYU football offensive coordinator Robert Anae summed up the performance of the Cougar offense after Friday’s Alumni Day scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
It’s also the term he used to describe the spring camp as a whole.
“We had spurts,” he repeated three times before continuing: “I’m excited about what the possibilities the future could represent when we go fast and go hard. I’m cautiously optimistic. I was pleased with the effort in spurts.”
While Anae and BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall consistently claim they are on the same page, Mendenhall was clearly much more impressed with the performance of the offense.
“I think the offense made continual progress throughout the spring and I still think they are gaining significant momentum, which is what I saw today,” Mendenhall said. “I was pleased with the offense especially.”
The Cougars had particular success running the ball in front of approximately 1,000 former BYU players and their families.
Sophomore running back Adam Hine proved to be the star, rushing for 143 yards and two touchdowns (70 yards and 28 yards) on just 10 carries.
“I was impressed with Adam Hine and Paul Lasike today.” Mendenhall said. “I thought they both ran physically, which really did a nice job of creating some play-action opportunities. I thought Tanner Mangum did a really nice job as a freshman and we threw and caught the ball pretty well, which was fun. That was opened up by the running game.”
Cougar sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill didn’t participate in the scrimmage as the team hasn’t wanted to risk the knee he hurt last year. Still, he said he liked watching the offense move the ball up and down the field.
“I loved to see it,” he said. “Guys are out there battling. Our defense is good and I understand that they didn’t have a lot of their guys going as well but it’s encouraging. I think we are going to have a lot of fun this season and offensively we are going to do some good things.”
Of course, when you have the BYU offense taking on the BYU defense, the success of one unit comes at the expense of the other.
“Any time one side has a good day, obviously the other side doesn’t,” Mendenhall said. “There was a lack of execution and the physical play wasn’t what it needed to be. Any time an offense can run the football, they have a chance to dictate and do what they want to do. The offense ran it a lot more effectively today, which was good.”
Cougar senior defensive lineman Eathyn Manumaleuna said they have to close things down at the point of attack.
“They played a lot of downs and it was a fast tempo,” he said. “It can get tiring pretty fast. There are a few things that came into play with some of the new guys that made them not do so well today. We’ve made a step forward from the first day of practice but there is still a long ways to go.”
The defense did manage to force three turnovers, something the Cougar offense had managed to avoid for much of the last five weeks.
“I’m more determined than anything to make a better effort to secure the football,” Anae said. “I am pleased that we for the most part secured the football this spring. Coming in, those were my priorities: Going fast, going hard and securing the football.”
The main priority moving forward, according to Anae, will be getting the players into the type of shape they needs to be in to maintain the breakneck pace he wants.
“There were times where our tempo was being compromised and our execution was being compromised because we were not fit for that situation,” Anae said. “I’m looking forward to a spring and summer where we can improve in that area.”
Even given the work that was done in January and February, workouts senior linebacker Kyle Van Noy called 10 times harder than any he had done before, Anae said the players should now have a better idea of what will be needed.
“I think the whole group would say without many arguments that they were not properly trained,” he explained. “What I’m most pleased with is that there were very few guys who quit, although there were some who quit. I’m pleased that the guys who stayed have bought in to a level that I wasn’t quite sure if they were capable of. I hope now that they’ve gone through a spring that they can measure and have something to fall back on. I’ll bet to a guy, from offense to defense to special teams, that there will be a concerted effort to better prepare for fall camp.”
Mendenhall, just as he did in evaluating the offense, had more positive things to say about the work that the Cougars accomplished.
“I think we got a ton done,” he said. “I think we established a unified mindset and work ethic. I think we have an offense installed and the tempo built in. I think they have a good idea of what conditioning will look like to be ready to play at this pace. I think we have a good idea of what players can make plays and where they will be situated depth-wise going in. We also didn’t get many players hurt, so I thought it was productive.”
No QB starter named yet: Mendenhall said he wasn’t yet ready to name a starter at quarterback, although he didn’t rule out the possibility of doing it next week.
“I’ll have to think about it,” he said. “I’ll meet with the offensive staff first, probably through Monday and Tuesday and then we’ll make a decision. But I like what I see from our quarterbacks, not only Taysom Hill and Ammon Olsen, but kind of up-and-coming in Tanner Mangum. He’s going on a mission next, but he’s going to be a good player for us.”
The odds-on favorite has to be Hill, with his experience from last year. If he isn’t named the starter, it probably means Olsen is closer than most expected.
Another back?: The running back unit consisting of Jamaal Williams, Michael Alisa, Lasike and Hine might leave sophomore running back Nate Carter buried on the depth chart.
But he’s making the most of his opportunities. He rushed for 75 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries in Friday’s scrimmage with his long run being a 51-yard burst around the left side.
Weather cooperates: Mendenhall said he was glad the early April weather allowed the Cougars a chance to get back to LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“It’s the last practice of the spring and it’s fun to have a sunny day and let the kids play in the stadium one more time,” he said.
Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or email@example.com. He can also be followed on Twitter at @JaredrLloyd.