PROVO — On BYU's first day of fall football practice, it looks like the Cougars' offense will return to some of its simple roots: Elements taken from Sid Luckman and Doug Scovil; formations used by Bill Walsh, and a strong tinge of LaVell Edwards in the days he hired a daring and creative Dewey Warren just after the Vietnam War.
What we saw Saturday was a multi-dimensional West Coast offense designed to make a defense cover the entire field on every play. And not be predictable.
New offensive coordinator Brandon Doman wants to run an offense that will keep defenses guessing, off-balance and on their collective heels.
Every offense would like to do just that, of course. But that wasn't exactly BYU the past five seasons.
Doman likes what Boise State does and doesn't mind plagiarizing. After all, this stuff will replace BSU as a regular on ESPN.
In fact, Doman has spent the past nine months researching desired plays from a myriad of coaches he's admired, and he's counseled with NFL quarterbacks John Beck, Max Hall and former Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer.
It's what he calls building up the library.
"I've tried to visit the best coaches I know to get as much information as I could find," said Doman.
"Now the challenge is to find out what we can do at a very high level. We're trying to find that out right now."
There is the challenge of giving his players too much at once. Even Saturday, on the fly, after handing out a script of plays to offensive players, Doman tweaked a few formations and added a few wrinkles.
His players loved it.
A year ago, defenders were sitting on routes of receivers and tight ends.
"They knew exactly what we were going to do, knew what our personnel groups were going to be all the time," said one player afterwards. "No more."
"We added a few wrinkles today and the wrinkles we added were very, very successful," said Doman.
It's a gunslinger attitude. Dewey Warren, the old swamp rat, is born again.
Some of this is returning the quarterback under center instead of lining up in the shotgun.
"When you line up in a formation, you should be able to do four or five things out of those formations. That's why in the NFL, you see a lot of quarterbacks under the center because it enhances the run game, increases your ability to do play-action. If you go through your quick-step game and drop-back vertical game, those same sets can be every bit as effective with inside protection and you are hard to defend," said Doman.
Doman said Heaps is a drop-back quarterback with an elite arm and he's got a very good offensive line in front of him.
"Now, if the other components come in to place," Doman said, "then yes, our guys can: 1. Handle it, and 2. Be difficult to defend and predict."
Doman said the challenge on the first day is getting new "Z" receiver Ross Apo up to speed with what's expected so the staff can take advantage of his speed, size and talent.
Apo, a 6-foot-3 freshman who once committed to sign at Texas, is a sub-4.5 speed guy in the 40.
"He was swimming out there, trying to figure out what to do and it's going to take time," Doman said.
But regardless, Doman and wide receivers coach Ben Cahoon started Apo the first day of practice to help him get launched and in the fire.50 comments on this story
In addition to Apo, BYU spread the field with a myriad of formations and used motion and slot receivers from among a cadre of athletes including JJ Di Luigi and punt returner JD Falslev while using McKay Jacobsen, Cody Hoffman and Apo in the attack.
It looked like it all had potential. At times it really confused Bronco Mendenhall's defense.
"We're not going to pretend that we've got it all figured out," said Doman. "When we look at film, we're going to find plenty of mistakes. This is one of 29 (practices), and I'm pretty happy how it started, but I'm also realistic."
In the books.
With a much larger library.