They did a great job today, so I was really pleased with how they pressured the quarterback, disrupted plays (and) caused turnovers. —BYU coach Kalani Sitake on BYU's defense
PROVO — If a defense as proud as BYU's gets hit in the mouth, you would expect it to hit back. And that's exactly what happened during the Cougars' second scrimmage of fall practices on Thursday.
In front of Cougar Club members and family, BYU's defense largely met the challenge given it after the offense came out on top of the first scrimmage last Saturday.
"We called out the defense last time, and they responded," said BYU coach Kalani Sitake. "They did a great job today, so I was really pleased with how they pressured the quarterback, disrupted plays (and) caused turnovers."
Sitake credited most of the defensive havoc to his defensive line, which played all of its assumed starters, including junior defensive end Sione Takitaki, who was held out of the first scrimmage.
"Me personally, I love playing with Sione," said senior safety Micah Hanneman. "He brings a lot of energy to the field and brings that physical mentality. He seems like he's getting to the quarterback every time he's rushing."
Defensive highlights included sophomore cornerback Troy Warner defending a long pass thrown to junior receiver Beau Tanner, while locked in single coverage, and sophomore Chris Wilcox knocking down a pass across the middle that was attempted to senior receiver Jonah Trinnaman.
Junior safety Zayne Anderson ended the scrimmage by picking off a Joe Critchlow pass attempt in the end zone.
While the defensive backs were highlighted, Sitake was quick to credit the defensive line play.
"A lot of it had to do with the pass rush," Sitake said. "But I think the (defensive backs) — they're an experienced group, so I anticipate them making some big plays and causing turnovers."
The only defensive starter held out on Thursday was junior outside linebacker Francis Bernard, with junior Adam Pulsipher seeing most of the reps with the first-team in Bernard's place. Wilcox also saw a lot of reps with the 1s in place of Dayan Ghanwoloku.
OFFENSE HAS ITS MOMENTS: While the defense largely dominated Thursday's scrimmage, the offense did show well on occasion. Highlights included freshman tight end Matt Bushman catching a short touchdown pass from quarterback Beau Hoge, who also had a 5-yard touchdown run.
"A little sloppy," described quarterback Tanner Mangum, when asked to assess the offensive performance. "It wasn't our best practice, but you know, that's going to happen. You can't get too down and the defense made a lot of good plays. So we'll just have to learn from it."
Mangum believes he's going against some top flight players during every practice session and qualified that fact into his side's performance.
"There are some guys on that side of the ball that in my opinion are some of the best in the country," Mangum said. "So they're going to come out and make plays, and you just have to take it. But we'll learn from it."