PROVO — One of the reasons Jake Heaps came to BYU was the high expectations placed on its quarterbacks.
So far, Heaps, and the Cougar offense in general, have fallen woefully short of expectations. And he knows it.
"If you look at the potential of our team, it's just really frustrating to be where we're at right now," the sophomore QB said Monday. "We have such great potential and we have such a great opportunity to have an explosive offense. We just haven't shown that. And it's really frustrating as the quarterback of this team to not put our guys in those situations."
Through three games, BYU has scored three touchdowns — all on passes from Heaps to wide receiver Ross Apo — and has turned the ball over 10 times, including seven in last weekend's humiliating 54-10 loss to Utah. The Cougars lost fumbles on their first three drives of the game.
BYU is looking to jumpstart its offense Friday (6 p.m., ESPN) when it faces Central Florida (2-1).
The Knights' defense figures to pose a stiff challenge for the Cougars. While BYU is one of the worst offensive teams in the nation, statistically, UCF is No. 1 in the nation in pass defense, giving up just 93.7 yards per game. The Knights also rank No. 13 in the country in run defense.
"This is my responsibility to lead this team to victory, to perform in the big moments when our backs are against the wall," Heaps said. "That's something you can look (for) from me, is more consistency as far as throwing the football and taking care of this football team. I need to do that in order for this team to improve."
Wide receiver McKay Jacobson said his team needs to learn from that whipping at the hands of the Utes.
"I think in some senses you have to remember it to have something to respond to. With the performance we had, it was just a horrible game all around and leaves a horrible taste in your mouth. At the end of the day, that game is over and we have to focus on what we can do now and control, and that is preparing for our next game."
Heaps credited Utah's play last Saturday, saying, "They did a great job. They caused us to have turnovers, and capitalized on those turnovers. … We can't dwell on this Utah game, they have a great team and I wish them well in the Pac-12, but we need to get on to the next game and get better."
On Monday morning, Heaps and offensive coordinator Brandon Doman had a conversation about the current state of the Cougars' offense. Both are bewildered by the anemic results to this point, but both are determined to get things fixed.
"I think it's going to grow us closer," Heaps said of that conversation. "It's not just us, it's our whole offense and we have to figure it out and put it all together. I have great confidence we will."
Doman recruited Heaps to BYU and has served as his position coach the past two seasons. This year, Doman is in his first year as offensive coordinator, and unlike most offensive coordinators that call plays from the press box, he stands on the sidelines instead.
Heaps said the offensive problems shouldn't be blamed on Doman being on the sidelines or his play-calling, but rather the players' lack of execution.
"He can see the field just fine. He's calling the game just fine," he said. "It's a matter of us going out and executing those plays. I really, truly believe he's putting us in the right spots. I'm not just saying that to back him up, or anything like that. I think if you ask any one of these guys on our offense, he is putting us in great spots. We just have to go execute."
Coach Bronco Mendenhall said he is leaving it up to Doman to decide where he calls the plays.
"Brandon will be given the choice to be wherever he feels most comfortable, wherever he thinks the team needs him and wherever he can be most effective," Mendenhall said. "That's a decision I wouldn't want to impose on him or one I wouldn't want imposed on myself. The bottom line is where can he help our football team the most and where can he be most effective from. With his personality and his strengths, I am comfortable with where he is at the moment."
BYU has become a very one-dimensional team, with an unproductive running game. The Cougars gained only 11 yards rushing against the Utes.
"If I knew the answer, we'd fix it," Heaps said. "It matters to our offense to run the ball. When defenses drop back eight guys, we have to make them pay for it and be able to run the ball."
In the national rankings, BYU checks in at No. 118 (out of 120 teams) in rushing offense.
Mendenhall said the scheme, the plays, and the running backs need to be evaluated.
"The design has to be looked at first and foremost and what runs are we doing. And then we need to look at with whom are we doing it and in what situation. That needs to become clear. It has to fit into the offensive plan as to when those plays are called. Really, we haven't seen what the run game should look like in relation to our offense."
Cougars on the air
Central Florida (2-1) at BYU (1-2)
Friday, 6 p.m. MT
TV: ESPN Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
Punchless offense121 comments on this story
BYU's offense is among the nation's worst in several categories. Below is where the Cougars rank, out of 120 teams, in several offensive categories.
Category National Rank
Rushing offense No. 118 (48.33 yards per game)
Passing offense No. 43 (253.33 ypg)
Total offense No. 104 (301.67 ypg)
Scoring offense No. 111 (13.33 ppg)
Pass efficiency No. 101 (107.40)
Fumbles lost No. 113 (6)
Turnovers lost No. 116 (10)