PROVO, Utah -- On Thursday, the Cougars participated in the fourth day of two-a-day drills, concluding with a 40-play scrimmage in the morning and conditioning work in the 95-degree (20-percent humidity) afternoon weather.
For the first time this season, sophomore running back Luke Staley participated in the contact scrimmage and reminded everyone why he was a freshman All-American and the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year.
"Luke is one talented cat," offensive coordinator Lance Reynolds said. "He looks every bit as fast and strong as he did last year, if not more so. He was very impressive today and we're very pleased to have him out here and contributing."
Junior running back Brian McDonald also saw plenty of action at running back, proving he has come a long way in just a few short days.
"I'm feeling really good," McDonald said. "I'm getting a hang of the offense and feeling like I can contribute. I've just been trying to get to the hole before those linebackers smack me. I go to bed every night thinking about how excited I am to be here and playing Division-I football. This is what it's all about."
Reynolds said he has been impressed with the junior college transfer and is looking for him to add to the Cougars' depth at running back.
"McDonald has a chance to help us, "Reynolds said. "He has a good feel of what is going on and has the ability to contribute right away. He's real athletic and has good speed. I've just been real impressed with Brian."
During the scrimmage all three quarterbacks saw plenty of action, dividing reps in the 40-play scrimmage.
"They are all really improving and starting to make some moves," Reynolds said. "I just don't know if we are far enough along to determine anything. We'd like to make a decision within a week, but we are bound by what we see and aren't really under any time constraints at this point. We'll just have to wait and see."
After nine practices, the Cougars have suffered a few minor injuries that are typical to early-season workouts. Isaac Herring is expected to return to practice as early as Saturday with a bruised knee. Ben Horton is suffering from a mild tear in his hamstring and is expected back early next week. Josh Lowe should return to practice on Saturday after twisting his ankle earlier in the week. Jeff Holtry is day-to-day with a sore groin.
"So far, we haven't had anything serious, in terms of injuries," Reynolds said. "We are seeing a lot of injuries that we have come to expect with working out so hard this early. Mostly, we're just dealing with little day-to-day things."