How hard to hit: Physicality balance efforts on display at first BYU football fall camp scrimmage
Thud vs. get ’em down.
That was a pretty important distinction for BYU football defenders to keep in mind when they took the field for their first fall camp scrimmage at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday.
Which one of those approaches you were supposed to take for tackling depended on when you were on the field.
“We went about 40 plays of what we call thud tempo with our veteran players where we were not tackling to the ground,” Cougar offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said during a teleconference after the scrimmage on Saturday. “There is contact and we are playing 11-on-11 football. It’s fairly realistic but not full-game-like yet. Then we went 50 plays where we were tackling. A lot of young guys got to play during that part of practice and it was good to see them in a game-type situation at a variety of positions.”
There is clear distinction between the numerous defensive players who have seen game action and the athletes who have yet to get on the field when the pressure is on.
“There are guys like Payton Wilgar and Keenan Pili, guys we know can do it but need to keep improving,” Cougar head coach Kalani Sitake said. “I don’t know if they need to play a full live scrimmage. They need a few live reps and that’s about it. There a lot of guys we know can do it so we just need to keep them on top of their skills.”
Wilgar said that the goal for his peers is to be intelligent and get to the right positions.
“We’ve got a lot of veteran guys who have experience,” BYU junior linebacker Payton Wilgar said. “We like to run a thud tempo and just be smart. If a guy is not looking or is in an awkward position, then you lay off of him. But when the time is right, you can get physical, block-shed, and chest them up.”
But the scrimmage was also a good opportunity for younger players to get more chances to show what they can do when it is full-go football.
“We were able to see a lot of newcomers tackle, break tackles, block and play live football,” Sitake said. “There are guys who need the work and those are usually guys who are fresh to the team. We want to be able to see them when it is like a real game.”
He explained that there is just no substitute as a coach for seeing the live-action competition.
“It’s a physical game, so if guys are going to get better at tackling you have to make them tackle,” Sitake said. “If guys can’t take care of the football or break a tackle, you need to give them a chance to work on that or they won’t be able to have the ball in their hands.”
But Wilgar said the veterans can’t get complacent. They have to be ready to go from the first snap at South Florida on Sept. 3.
“Our leaders are going to need to step up and everyone needs to hold each other accountable,” Wilgar said. “When game time comes, we need to come out from the start and not just ease into it. We’ve got to show up and show out.”
As far as the scrimmage in general, Sitake said it was pretty much what he wanted to see.
“I thought the offense took care of the football, which means the defense didn’t force enough turnovers,” Sitake said. “But the defense had some disruptive plays and put some good pressure on the quarterback. There was some give-and-take on both sides. I think 84 total plays was what we had with another 20 of special teams. It was what we wanted. I’m really happy with the talent we have on the football team right now.”
Rodericks said the offense met its main goals, but certainly isn’t ready to take the field and perform at the highest level.
“It was a clean scrimmage,” Roderick said. “The main goal today was to play clean football. We took care of it and kept the penalties to a minimum. Execution isn’t all the way there yet at times but overall I was pleased.”