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BYU football: Brandon Doman confident Riley Nelson can run the traditional offense efficiently

Published: Thursday, March 22 2012 9:02 p.m. MDT

Quarterbacks McCoy Hill, Taysom Hill, Riley Nelson and Ammon Olsen, left to right, confer on BYU's first day of spring football practice Monday, March 5, 2012, in Provo, Utah.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

PROVO — Now that he's in his second year as BYU's offensive coordinator, Brandon Doman has digested and examined the ups and downs of his rookie campaign in that position, which included a change in the starting quarterback during the season.

Having learned important lessons, Doman's goal is to continue to develop senior quarterback Riley Nelson, build an identity, and simplify the approach.

"I was way too complex. I tried too many things," Doman said about last season. "I never created an identity for this offense. Then Riley came in and played hard, full of passion, kind of catapulted us into another sphere. I don't think our kids knew who we were, nor our coaches."

Going into the 2012 campaign, Doman "would like to see us be the most efficient progression-based offense in America because I know that's what we can do and I know our coaches know how to coach that. I didn't say the most prolific or the most yards gained. I want us to be the most efficient progression-based offense. That's something BYU knows how to do and I've got to coach that from our kids. Which means it's a 65 percent completion percentage and it's a high third-down conversion rate. It's close to 300 yards passing a game and guys are making tough catches. That's who we are and that's the culture that we're trying to create. We'll create that culture through grit, execution and tempo because we'll have to create an advantage through those three things. We can't try to be the fastest team in America, because we're not. But we can be what I said."

Doman defines a progression-based offense as "a quarterback-friendly offense" with roots in the West Coast offense. "It wasn't tailored to suit a bunch of studly athletes," he said. "It was tailored to grab a good quarterback and exploit weaknesses in coverage. It's been successful for a long time."

Nelson took over at quarterback after guiding the Cougars to a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Utah State. Is this offense tailored to a QB like Nelson, whose strength is running?

"There's three components to being good — timing, decision-making and accuracy," Doman said. "I looked at myself as a coach and I thought, 'I need to give this guy (Nelson) a chance to really see if he can succeed in this offense.' We are running the BYU offense right now. His completion percentage and efficiency at this time of year is as good as any senior that I've had a chance to coach, that's John (Beck) and Max (Hall). He's right there with them. I think he can do this offense. He can do some things those guys couldn't do and he can certainly do those things as well inside this offense."

Meanwhile, Doman is excited about the young talent at his disposal, particularly backup quarterbacks Taysom Hill, a freshman, and Ammon Olsen, a sophomore.

"I think we've got some young guys that have really stepped up and played well. The quarterbacks — I really like how Taysom Hill and Ammon Olsen are playing," Doman said. "If (quarterbacks) have the ability to learn, and they're willing to learn, and they'll commit themselves to it, they can be good in this offense. These kids are all very smart. Taysom could have gone to Stanford. He's bright. Ammon received one of the Utah High School Hall of Fame awards. He's a really smart kid. You couple that with ability in this offense, and you've got a good formula."

With redshirt freshman Alex Kuresa having missed much of spring drills due to academic issues, and junior Jason Munns having been sidelined due to foot surgery, Hill and Olsen have been able to take a lot of snaps.

"It's been good for Ammon and Taysom because they've gotten a ton of reps in relation to what they would have gotten," Doman said.

Doman also likes what he's seen from redshirt freshman wide receiver Terenn Houk; offensive linemen Manaaki Vaitai and Brock Stringham; and tight end McCoy Hill, who was switched from quarterback recently.

Overall, Doman has enjoyed working with his players this spring.

"I've loved coaching Riley and this group of quarterbacks," he said. "I like the energy and the focus of these young men. I think they want to be great, which is even funner as a coach."

email: jeffc@desnews.com

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