Back to BYU's future

Cougs want to be Quarterback U. again

Published: Thursday, March 24 2005 12:00 a.m. MST

"I think they're all very capable. They're big, strong athletic kids," Doman says. "I think now they just need to gain confidence. They've lacked a little bit of that in the past and I think that's because they've rotated so much. It's been a hard deal for them. Now, each one of them is having an opportunity. They're gaining the reps, gaining the confidence and there's a surety in who their coach is and what he's telling them. Now I just want to see someone take ownership and do it. I'm very, very pleased with all three of them. Each one of them is competing. For me, it's been important for them to know there's a trust in me, but that there's no nonsense, either."

The quarterback's role will be enhanced significantly in the framework of the offensive scheme, Doman says.

"We'll give them a lot of ownership, a lot of empowerment to be a manager on the field as far as calling plays, audiblizing and finding mismatches out there on the field. Hopefully, they'll get comfortable in the offense so that when they see something they want to change to, they'll be comfortable enough to do that. That's my job, to get them confident to do that. The system isn't hard. It's just a matter of training their feet. In that process, they'll train their decision-making to happen faster. As that happens, their timing gets better and they'll be accurate. That's the bottom line with the quarterbacks — timing, decision-making and accuracy."

For Berry, playing in this new offense is akin to starting over. "This is why I came to BYU. This is the old offense. I'm really happy," he says. "I'm going to get a fair shot now. I'm just going to go in and run the offense and be consistent."

Berry explains the new offense this way: "There will be a lot of quick hits, a lot of two-back sets like they used to run (at BYU). We're going to hit the back a lot. Hopefully, they'll have more receiving yards than running yards."

"I think it's an offense that will benefit us tremendously," Beck says. "If we execute the plays properly, we should do well. This offense was a high-scoring offense at Texas Tech because they ran it perfectly. Yeah, we have the plays in, but it's up to us to run it perfectly and run it properly."

Doman is impressed with John Beck's strong arm, though he adds that Beck must improve on his accuracy.

"I haven't seen that kind of an arm here for a little while at BYU,"

Doman says. "But he needs to control that strong arm now from throwing the deep balls and the intermediate balls, and that's been a big focus of mine. He realized he wasn't as accurate as he wanted to be last year. I expect him to be in the mid-60s in his completion percentage (Beck completed 56 percent of his attempts in 2004). In this offense, he'll have to be very good at touch passes. He used to throw them too hard. Now he's getting better at that. If he does that, he'll be sweet."

As for the future of the quarterback position at BYU, there is work to be done, considering four of the six quarterbacks on the spring roster are seniors. Doman is hopeful that Jason Beck will get back a year of eligibility. Beck was pressed into duty last year at Stanford, where he completed 23-of-46 passes for 232 yards before suffering an arm injury.

"It's in the NCAA's hands," Doman says. "They should give him a year back. It would be crazy if they didn't. But you just don't know."

Officially, the Cougars didn't sign any quarterbacks in February, although Stephen Covey starred at QB at Timpview High. Covey is slated to play defensive back this fall for BYU and Mendenhall has left the door open for Covey to play QB after his mission.

On the horizon is Jacob Bower, who signed with BYU in 2003 and returns from a mission next summer. "(Bower) will be shoved right into the mix," Doman says.

"We'll have to recruit probably two quarterbacks this year. The high school juniors who are going to be seniors, there are a lot of good ones, a lot of Ben Olson-type kids. It's just a matter of getting them to come to BYU. We have to be good this fall. We'll be fine, as long as John stays healthy and we get Jason his year back."

For Cougar fans who are still dreaming of the day that Ben Olson plays at LaVell Edwards Stadium, they just might get their wish — the UCLA Bruins visit Provo in 2008, which would be Olson's senior year.

At this point, the player who will be under center for the Cougars on that day is a mystery. If Doman has his way, though, it will be a quarterback who piles up big numbers and wins games. Just like the good ol' days.

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