PROVO, Utah – Freshman tight end Matt Bushman stood out on a rainy spring day as BYU football held its annual spring scrimmage on Saturday at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
About 6,000 Cougar fans enjoyed the open practice and scrimmage before the rain started to fall harder throughout the day.
After both sides of the ball warmed up, the team played a set of 7-on-7 skeleton drills. The offense and defense then competed in a pair of 11-on-11 scrimmages.
Bushman had four catches in the scrimmages for 105 yards and two touchdowns. He also had two receptions for 22 yards and another score in the skelly portion. The highlight play of the day came near the end of the scrimmage on a 65-yard catch-and-run down the sideline from freshman quarterback Kody Wilstead.
Junior quarterback Tanner Mangum went 10 for 16 for 102 yards and one touchdown but suffered three interceptions in the scrimmages. In the skeleton drills, he went 7 for 9 for 101 yards and an interception.
In the first skeleton drill, tight end Joe Tukuafu notched a 47-yard completion from Mangum to highlight the offense. The highlight of the second skeleton drill was Bushman's 4-yard touchdown reception from Beau Hoge on fourth down.
In the first 11-on-11 scrimmage, Hoge found Bushman for a 32-yard gain. In the next play, Kaufusi took down the rusher for a tackle for loss. The defense held the offense to a 42-yard field goal that just missed off of the right upright in the opening drive.
KJ Hall picked up 17 yards on a swing pass that he rushed for more gain. Despite Jonah Trinnaman’s 12-yard reception to get to first and goal, the offense settled for a 20-yard field goal from Rhett Almond.
In the second scrimmage, Spencer Romney picked up 32 yards on a reception. In traffic, Micah Simon caught a 15-yard pass to move the chains. Bushman caught his second touchdown pass of the day, first of the scrimmage, this time a 5-yard completion from Tanner Mangum.
Bushman's 65-yard score came in the last second to last session, tip-toeing down the sideline to reach the end zone. Kavika Fonua rushed three yards for the final touchdown of the day.
BYU wraps up spring practices next week.
Kalani Sitake, head coach
I thought it was good; it was a good practice. We were able to watch a little bit of the run game live with our backup O-line and get a lot of running backs the chance to run and compete.
I thought we had some good things and bad things. I wasn’t happy with some of the throws that Tanner made today. I think he has a lot of confidence in his throwing ability and our defense does a great job at taking away a lot of looks and making it difficult for the quarterback to throw the ball and thread the needle. Overall, he’s a great leader and I think he made some great strides. I think our offense is going to be fine when we get to the fall.
Vibe of the program in year two
I think we’re starting to settle in more. We’re comfortable with our team and program. Last year, we were still trying to get to know everyone. A year later, I think we as a coaching staff have earned the trust of the players. I think the team has become closer as a unit. When you have that, you can accomplish a lot of things.
I think the tight ends had a pretty good day. I’ve set it before, but Matt Bushman is a special player. He’s big and he’s smooth. He can do a lot of things. Moroni (Laulu-Pututau) had a good spring. I think the tight end position altogether has developed really well. Joe Tukuafu has done well. With Tanner Balderree and Hunter Marshall have injuries in the spring, those guys took every rep. They’ve definitely had the benefit of becoming better every day. The quarterbacks understand the tight ends can be a big weapon for us this year.
(Ilaisa) Tuiaki has done a great job with the defense. Having (Ed) Lamb and (Jernaro) Gilford, those guys did a great job last year creating turnovers and making big plays. Now our defense is a little more comfortable in the scheme. We have Fred Warner and Butch Pau’u lead the way. Those guys did a great job demanding more from the defensive guys. It helps having starting cornerbacks return. We’re not as young on defense as people think. Tackle-wise, we’re going to be fine. â€‹
Ty Detmer, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach
Thoughts on spring game
It got a little sloppy trying to catch and put anything on the ball, so kind of towards the ends it was like 'keep your pride and run it.' It was similar to the bowl game a little bit, with wetness and falls. We got in a little bit of work early before it really started coming down and it was good to get a chance to work the run game and let those linemen keep coming off the ball.
This was really more individual evaluation today. We're not scheming. It was really basic scheme on both sides of the ball. It's more about seeing what the guys do with it when they get it. I felt like some guys made some plays and stepped up, and got a taste of what it's all about. It was nice to see Riley Burt get some carries and see him get downhill. Kavika (Fonua), same thing. That's really what this scrimmage is all about, just seeing guys in an individual environment.
Are you seeing this kind of performance from Matt Bushman in practice?
We are. He's getting better and better with reps. It was impressive to see him run away from people. We hadn't really seen that because we usually catch it and just kind of come back in practice. Those are the things you're looking for in a situation like today.
How's Tanner Mangum looking?
He's been great. It's a night and day difference from last year to this year. He's seeing it, understanding it and lining guys up. You know guys are starting to get comfortable when they get greedy and start to try to manufacture big plays. That tells me he understands what he's looking at and trying to do just a little too much. That's what's happening on the interceptions. It's a good thing that he's there, and now you get to pull back and see what you can and can't get away with. Overall he's throwing it great, and we expect a big season.
What's your biggest offensive concern in the spring?
Just more time and more reps. We'll add things in the fall. The biggest concerns are just figuring out the combinations of what guys can and can't do, and execution will always be the main deal. We know the guys who can play and now it's just up to the coaches to get them in the right spots.
Tanner Mangum, junior QB
On the rainy weather
It’s rained the last two games, but it is what it is—that’s football. You have to adjust. It makes it tough when the ball slips out of your hands and doesn’t come out as clean as you’d like. No excuse. You need to be able to play in any weather. Some good plays today, some things to work on. Overall, it’s fun to be able to come out and play.
This spring compared to last spring
One of the biggest improvements for me is the understanding and mastery of the offense. Having a year under my belt now, I have it more ingrained and it’s more muscle memory. I’ve been able to improve in that aspect, even since last season. In the last few months, I’ve gotten better, working with Ty, going in to watch film and learning from each practice.
I feel good, I feel confident. It’s fun to be able to come out here and put it on the field.
Seeing field differently now
The game slows down, you understand what you’re seeing. You understand coverages and front. Having a mastery of the offense allows you to have more freedom. It allows you to be more creative, mix things up, make some checks at the line and call some audibles because you know what you’re doing. You know what you have, and that makes it fun. That’s what Ty wants us to have—he wants us to have that freedom to be able to put ourselves in a good position to win and be able to make plays.
Ty calling him “greedy”
He encourages us to play our game. I think I was a little greedy. I wanted to come out and be able to push the ball down the field. And I think some of those throws went a little higher or shorter than I would have liked. But I think to Ty’s point, I am seeing things. I’m seeing coverages and seeing opportunities, and seeing the potential that we have as an offense. I’ve got to be able to learn from those mistakes and sharpen those throws.
â€‹Chris Wilcox, sophomore DB
Going through struggles
It has helped me a lot. I’m just really glad that I got to play so I can learn from my mistakes. I feel like I’m learning a lot from coach (Guilford), teaching me new things. I’m looking forward to this year to showing what I can do.
Lessons from spring camp
Mainly technique. I have been getting a lot of reps at practice. I’ve watched a lot of film from last year, things that I’ve done wrong and I’ve been correcting them.
Matt Bushman, freshman TE
I feel good right now. Getting back from my mission, I’ve got back into shape. I think that was the fastest I’ve run in a while.
On his breakout performance
Honestly, I was just trying to catch the ball. It was a rainy day and the quarterback’s line did a great job protecting. I was fortunate enough to make a few great plays. I think I was just feeling it today.
Surpised he did so well?
I’m a little bit surprised today, but I was just trying not to slip in the rainy condition and to catch the ball. I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be out there and to learn from these great coaches. It is nice to have opportunities. Coach Detmer is telling the quarterbacks to look to the tight ends. We have had a lot of balls thrown to us and have a lot of reps. If we can have deep threats down the middle, it opens up all facets of the game.
Talon Shumway, sophomore WR
Connection with Tanner Mangum
It was a pretty good day. Great weather. It’s Tanner, so I don’t think it matters who is in my spot. He always has a day. He expects a lot with everybody and holds himself to a really high standard. I think it comes down to him and his leadership.
Feelings on the day
It was fun. It is kind of the climax of the spring season. We were excited to come out here and the rain didn’t damper our spirits. Some guys made some great plays. It’s fun to watch guys play great and to be out here in the stadium.
Tanner Jacobson, junior DB
On spring ball
It's fun to have your guys and your brothers out there making plays with you. We all have worked so hard in the off season to get where we are today.
On position in safety depth chart
I am putting my nose to the ground and I am going to keep working. I'm not in the coaching business, I am in the playing business. I am just focusing on getting better day in and day out. I think everyone understands that everyone wants to be the starter. There is no doubt in my mind that is where I want to be and that is what I am working towards. I think we are a mature group, and a deep group. I am happy with my spring play, and I am happy with my momentum going into summer workouts.
On punt returns
I returned punts for two years in high school and also my first year (at Texas Tech) was as a punt returner. So that's how I saw the field first at Texas Tech, and then I started to get more reps, and then they started to taper me off into some special teams plays towards the end of the season. Punt return may be may favorite position to play.
KJ Hall, sophomore RB
In my case, the rain may affect the way I have to run a little bit, but I feel like we did fine. We had a lot of good runs and a lot of bursts. I don't know if we ended up slipping a lot out there, but that could have been a problem. I feel like we did really well.
I feel like we are in a good spot right now. I feel like we are where we need to be. Obviously, there is a lot of room for improvement, but our chemistry is there, and it will only be better in the fall.
On offense progression through spring ball
When we first started, guys are trying to get to know the plays and get comfortable with the offense. Today there was a lot more plays being made because guys knew what they were doing. Obviously, we have some new guys on the offensive side and I think they did really well today as far as plays and assignments. I think there has been amazing improvement.