OXFORD, Miss. — Now that his debut as an offensive coordinator is out of the way, BYU's Brandon Doman can evaluate his performance and work on fixing some first-game issues going into Saturday's game at Texas.
For the first 50 minutes Saturday at Ole Miss, Doman's offense, which returned 10 starters from last season, was shut out.
"I was sweating," Doman said. "I had never searched my soul as much in my life in an athletic event. It was a good learning lesson for me. I look forward to next week."
BYU finally got on the scoreboard at the 9:52 mark of the fourth quarter, when quarterback Jake Heaps threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Ross Apo. Minutes later, linebacker Kyle Van Noy forced a fumble, recovered it, and scored to erase a 13-0 deficit and secure a 14-13 victory over the Rebels.
Several Cougar drives were short-circuited due to a variety of miscues. For example, Heaps was sacked for a nine-yard loss on a corner blitz on the third play from scrimmage. On the Cougars' next series, Heaps mishandled a snap from center Terence Brown, resulting in a loss of nine more yards.
So what is Doman's focus this week?
"We need to clean up the poise from the center-quarterback exchange," Doman said. "It's a problem we haven't had. We just need to speed that tempo up a little bit so the snaps happen sooner and are more crisp, especially on the road. That, believe it or not, caused more mental problems early on for Jake than anything. For the quarterback's sake, he missed some throws early in the game that I think would have sparked him ... It took us longer to get Jake playing well than anybody else. For the most part, I think everybody else did pretty well."
In the third quarter, BYU had one drive end with Ole Miss' Charles Sawyer intercepting a Heaps pass and returning it 96 yards for a touchdown. Later, the Cougars marched again into Rebel territory, only to watch Justin Sorensen miss a 31-yard field goal attempt. In the end, after seizing a one-point lead, the Cougars drove to the Rebel 25-yard line and faced fourth-and-one with less than one minute remaining in the game.
"I simply asked our players, not our coaches, if they could get (the first down), and they said yes," coach Bronco Mendenhall explained. "I thought it was a good time to trust them and so I did. I would do it again if they said they could get it."
But running back Bryan Kariya was stopped for no gain, turning the ball over to the Rebels on downs.
"Quite honestly, our quarterback called (the play) to the wrong side," Doman said. "Because he called it to the wrong side, I think it had an impact on the play. We had mental errors in this first game that I believe we can correct and fix."
Of course, Doman expected his offense to score more points than it did.
"I thought that we would have more success early in that game," he said. "But I'm grateful for the opportunity to be the coordinator. I'm grateful to be coaching these guys and I'm grateful for the coaches that are here. There was a pretty resilient look on those kids' faces in that second half. They stayed the course and the coaches made some recommendations in the second half that were critical for me as a play-caller. Things started clicking. At least we got a touchdown, which allowed us to win the game."
Heaps said the fact the Cougars struggled, and had to rally to win, will strengthen his team.
"Quite frankly, I'm glad this win came out like it did. We made some mistakes we had to overcome," said Heaps, who completed 13-of-16 passes for 151 yards in the second half. "I think it shows a great football team that's able to come through adversity. I don't know if last year we would have been able to come through in a situation like that. This team has grown so much."
Saturday also marked the debut of Ben Cahoon as receivers coach and Joe DuPaix as running backs coach. Doman, who called the plays from the field during the game, liked the way the group worked together for the first time. He credited longtime assistant Lance Reynolds for his wisdom and advice from the press box.
"The difficult task for the offensive coordinator is to now take these seven or eight ideas that everybody's got and make one call," Doman said. "Then put it into a sequence of plays that put together a big drive and keep the defense at bay. I'll learn as I go. I'm inexperienced. I understand. I'll get better as well."
What grade would Doman give himself for Saturday's performance?
"Probably a 'C', I think. There were a couple of calls I'd like to change and go back and re-do," he said. "But I don't know that I'll get to an 'A' for a while. Right now, I've got a long ways to go."
Cougars on the air
BYU (1-0) at Texas (1-0)
Saturday, 5 p.m. MT
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