LOGAN — Outside the BYU locker room at Romney Stadium on Friday night, the site of Utah State's decisive victory over a staggering Cougar football team, players and coaches shuffled out with food boxes in their hands and bewildered looks on their faces.
Inside, it was quiet, somber. Players traded looks. They understood the score.
It's been 37 years since a BYU football team started a season 1-4. Nobody's used to this feeling and they don't want it to settle in.
One of those bodies departing the scene was BYU quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman. He'd just watched BYU's offense spit and sputter and fail to put scores on the board. Again.
He watched the nation's 117th (out of 120) pass-efficiency offense fail to convert third downs and score but two touchdowns. He witnessed 10 dropped passes and others sail past targets.
Only a half hour earlier, Doman could be seen dancing on the sidelines, calling in plays to freshman quarterback Jake Heaps. Passionate and wound up like a watch spring, Doman took liberties with his steps on the field, often going five to 10 paces on the turf to yell out a command or observation. After a series, Doman looked Heaps in the eyes and tried to talk QB talk, delivering those words that make the young grow old faster than time allows.
Whether Doman took that animated role upon himself or whether Bronco Mendenhall gave him a longer leash, no outsider knows. But Doman, the fiery former quarterback for Skyline, BYU and the 49ers, certainly would have stood in the shoes of the younger Heaps if it were corporally possible.
I caught Doman as he left the stadium and headed for the team bus.
In a way only Doman seems to do, he kind of gave his version of a George Patton speech. It was forthright, honest and to the point.
Here, I'll just let it run.
Doman, Take 1:
"I think right now, we're in a real tight spot. We have to make a lot of decisions based on how we're going to proceed. We certainly have to play better at many positions.
"For me, as the quarterback coach, I have to look at myself and the quarterback. The last thing I'm going to do is look around at anybody else and any other position and tell them what they need to do.
"As for Jake, it's going to be day to day. I mean, we placed him a lot of positions tonight. I don't know how many balls he had to throw in tough, critical situations he had to be in. He's going to be ready for those situations, but right now, he's just not ready.
"Our football team is suffering, but he's not the whole reason we're suffering. Everyone's going to want to say that's why we're suffering, but I certainly don't think that the case.
"I will say this, I'm his football coach and I take a lot of pride in that and I'm going to do everything I possibly can to prepare him to play the best he can inside whatever we do offensively. If it's going to be this, throwing it all around, then I've got to help him make those throws.
"That's the bottom line for me in this particular case."
Doman then made the declaration concerning something everyone knows but likes a coach to say. It's a declaration that folks notice about this 2010 squad, so very different from a year ago, the one that beat Utah and Oregon State to end the season.
That seems very long ago.
Doman, Take 2:
"We've got to be tougher as a team. We just have to be tougher. I just hope we can teach them to be tough.
"For me, you know me well enough, the gloves are on and I'm ready to go, so if you want to say anything in the newspapers, I'm ready to go. That's the way I feel. I don't think I've felt this much resolve and this much urgency ever as a player or as a coach.
"I'm not interested in going out and not playing good football, I'm not interested in that. Right now, we're not playing good football. We are not a good football team.44 comments on this story
"To me, that's us as coaches, we just have to be better and so I have to look at myself and see what I have to do to be better as a coach and working with this kid and all four of our quarterbacks. I have to help these guys succeed.
"Like I say, I'm ready to go."
With that, he smiled, pivoted and disappeared into the night.