Dick Harmon: What we learned from the Cougars’ second scrimmage

Kelsey Brunner, Deseret News

BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki, center, watches the action with other coaches at BYU’s scrimmage Thursday at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Thursday, August 10, 2017.

PROVO — What did we learn about BYU football after the second major scrimmage of fall camp on Thursday?

Well, first, the defense got mad, motivated, got called out and responded to a thrashing the offense delivered earlier.

Second, at this stage, the defense pretty much knows the offensive plays and thus, the prediction factor increased dramatically. Routes were jumped, pressure worked and players simply played harder. The results were a pair of interceptions and a trio of fumble recoveries.

If a team is progressing, this ebb and flow of who wins in fall camp is natural. Both sides have their days and bragging rights.

It should also be pointed out, coaches can “allow” one side to succeed simply by deciding who they put on the field or choose to hold out. And sometimes the offense and defense are running plays not to attack the other’s scheme but to build on their own designs.

So, in a sense, it’s a teaching laboratory with a lot of controls. What is unpredictable is if a few individual players simply blow up and make star moves. That was the difference this last time.

After limited exposure to Kalani Sitake’s team, it’s a challenge to accurately piece together what the Cougars have. But if you delve a little deeper into resources who’ve seen every drill and play, you can get an idea of what direction this squad is headed.

BYU will grind it out in September, playing three ranked opponents in LSU, Utah and Wisconsin. They could get lucky, they could break even during the first four weeks and surprise people. But they could also go 1-3 with their only win over Portland State in the opener.

I will say the first scrimmage when the offense had the upper hand was no fluke. It was a first-class whipping by Tanner Mangum and his receivers and tight ends. “They simply shredded us,” one coach said this week. “It was…

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