Pritchard's back

Once-broken Pritchard thrives on tempting fate at BYU's first stadium scrimmage of camp

2012-08-10T00:30:00Z 2013-01-04T15:49:32Z Once-broken Pritchard thrives on tempting fate at BYU's first stadium scrimmage of campJason Franchuk - Daily Herald Daily Herald
August 10, 2012 12:30 am  • 

Iona Pritchard wanted to tempt fate.

So he listened to the same music as he arrived at LaVell Edwards Stadium, and entered the field under what he recalls as the same situation as a year ago.

Last August, in BYU's first scrimmage of fall camp, Pritchard had his leg shattered on a live kickoff drill. Not exactly a good way for anyone, player or team, to start what should have been an exciting situation.

This time, the fullback Pritchard did some special teams work (kick return, punt return) and was banged around a few times in the backfield. But he managed to walk off the field with a big smile on his face after a two-hour practice that included a 70-play scrimmage. It was a "fairly vanilla" setup according to the Cougar head coach after what would be the only public access to the team until the Aug. 30 opener against Washington State.

It was perfectly vanilla in terms of injuries. None of major significance.

"I was coming in, and I knew I couldn't think about that," Pritchard did. "Though I did earlier in the week. I just wanted to look fate in the eyes — and whatever will happen, will happen."

Pritchard was part of a slew of running backs that showcased themselves on a sultry afternoon in Provo in which reserves, young talent and backup quarterbacks were otherwise the stars. The first-stringers just had to sit in the heat and do some cheering.

"It was really god to get more plays than I anticipated," coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "Our depth held up on both sides."

Only one injury was reported this time. Offensive lineman Brock Stringham rolled an ankle which he also aggravated last week at the start of camp.

The star may have been Jamaal Williams, a 6-foot and 190-pound freshman who showed off some versatility. He's a little younger than most freshmen, and he was pronounced as skinnier in the spring when he signed with the Cougars, but fans are already buzzing about his shifty nature and ability to make plays whether the ball is handed off or thrown to him.

"Fun to watch," was how Mendenhall described him after the scrimmage.

Mendenhall said he thought of Pritchard's injury anniversary earlier in the day. At a staff meeting, some assistants wanted some more live special-teams work.

"I basically said I've learned my lesson," the eighth-year head coach said.

The Cougars were also able to rotate a lot of quarterbacks.

Starter Riley Nelson had a nice 13-yard touchdown pass to JD Falslev on the first drive. Offensive coordinator Brandon Doman high-fived Nelson after the score in the back right corner of the end zone. So did new student assistant Max Hall.

The touch on the pass was perfect. Coaches were happier with Nelson's read of the defense. 

"Once I was able to see it was a linebacker with (Falslev), I was able to take advantage of that," he said. "It's something we had worked on while watching film, after noticing how often teams dropped their cornerback against us in those situations. So that's what you're happy to accomplish after you put so much effort into it."

James Lark and Taysom Hill, vying for the backup role to Nelson, also led touchdown drives.

Williams had a 20-yard run when Jason Munns led a drive that ended with a 33-yard field goal from Riley Stephenson (Justin Sorensen's back is keeping him from participation).

***Jason Franchuk can be reached at Follow him on Twitter, @harkthefranchuk. 


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