BYU football: Cougar offense has plenty of options

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 16 2011 12:50 a.m. MDT

Head coach Bronco Mendenhall works with the Cougar defense during BYU football practice on Monday.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

PROVO — It's first down, and first-year BYU offensive coordinator Brandon Doman has a decision to make.

Does he call for quarterback Jake Heaps to throw it deep to one of his tall wide receivers, Ross Apo or Cody Hoffman?

Or does he call play-action and have Heaps look for speedy McKay Jacobson? Or connect with one of the tight ends — Austin Holt, Marcus Mathews, Richard Wilson or Devin Mahina? Does he put running back JJ Di Luigi in the slot? Or call for a handoff to Joshua Quezada or Bryan Kariya and let them barrel through holes created by the Cougars' big, physical offensive line?

Decisions, decisions.

As Doman game plans this season, he'll be something like a mad scientist, armed with plenty of options, trying to concoct ways to humble opposing defenses.

"The goal of coach Doman this year will be to figure out which weapons to use and what time," said left tackle Matt Reynolds. "We have them all over the field. We've got depth all over the field. To have that much of an arsenal at his disposal is a huge advantage for him."

Notwithstanding the offense's lackluster performance during practice Monday morning, Doman has unveiled glimpses of the Cougar offense's unlimited potential during fall camp.

"It's really scary for opposing defenses to look at our offense," said Heaps. "Then you add on top of that we can bring JJ in any spot on the field. We're so versatile with our offense that we're coming out there with different formations and motions and shifts. What we're trying to do is make the defense think and make them react to what we're doing. When they have to think, that's when we're able to capitalize on mistakes. It's fun to be in this offense and I'm so happy that coach Doman is our offensive coordinator. Our guys are flourishing."

Since taking over as offensive coordinator, Doman has shown a propensity for being both aggressive and unpredictable. For instance, on the first play from scrimmage during last Saturday's scrimmage, Heaps aired out a long pass for Apo, which resulted in a defensive pass interference penalty.

At the same time, Doman wants the offense to be balanced, with a blend of run and pass, in order to keep defenses guessing.

"I just like the style of play," coach Bronco Mendenhall said of Doman's play-calling. "I like the run and play-action mix with the chance to spread out and throw the football. We're very versatile and we have the weapons. I'm impressed with the talent we have to pull off the balance that we have."

"We have a lot of great players and great options," said Kariya. "We're not a one-dimensional team. We have a number of different things we can attack with and that's promising."

In an unorthodox move, Doman has decided to call plays from the sideline on game day, even though the vast majority of offensive coordinators work from the press box.

"We have a couple of new coaches on staff that haven't been on the sideline with us before," Doman explained. "Our quarterback's still very young. And I think we have the best press box coach in America in (tight ends coach) Lance Reynolds. He's really good at it. He provides me with the exact right information at the right moment. He's savvy. The combination of him up there and providing the information, and the stability that I can provide for the quarterback on the sideline has a chance to be a really good combination."

BYU's offense started slowly last fall, due to a two-quarterback system, inexperience at many key positions, and a difficult early season schedule. The Cougars averaged a mere 16 points per game through the first eight contests. But over the final five games, BYU roared to life, averaging 42 points, including a 52-point outburst in the New Mexico Bowl against UTEP.

Can the Cougars continue their momentum when they travel to Ole Miss for the season-opener on Sept. 3, then visit Texas the following week?

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