High school football: Provo Bulldogs 2012 preview

Published: Thursday, Aug. 9 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Note: Provo finished with a 2-8 overall record and a 1-6 record in Region 8 in 2011. It did not qualify for the 4A state playoffs.

PROVO — It sometimes takes an uncommon coach to achieve uncommon results, and Provo believes it has that kind of leader in Cody Mallory.

Provo’s new head football coach hails from Michigan and doesn't have any ties to the local community, but he does have ambitious goals for the fledgling Bulldog program.

It all started when Mallory took a trip out to Moab to go snowboarding a few years back and fell in love with what the state had to offer. When the head coaching job opened up at Provo he went after it.

“I knew that I could live out here in this community and love it when I was out here vacationing,” said Mallory. “More importantly I think Provo has a ton of potential as a program. I’m here for the long haul and I’m committed to turning this program around into one of best programs in the state. I wouldn’t have taken this job if I didn’t feel Provo had that type of potential.”

You don’t just turn around a program like Provo overnight, and Mallory understands that. For this reason he’s taken care to visit every player’s family — from grades nine to 12 — presenting a five-year plan to turn Provo into the winning program he firmly believes it can be.

In his inaugural year at Provo, Mallory knows that a state championship or even a region championship probably isn’t a realistic expectation. But he does expect improvement.

“I don’t like talking about wins and losses, winning certain games or championships,” said Mallory. “If you focus on that stuff then you lose sight of the bigger goal. Our goal is to play technically sound and with intensity. At the end of the year I want our team to know that they made progress and that they are moving the program in the right direction.”

Mallory has completely overhauled Provo’s existing offensive and defensive systems to implement his own. He’ll run the triple-option on offense, which is uncommon in spread-happy Region 8, and he'll run a brand-new defense that doesn’t rely on any particular alignment.

“It’s a thin playbook that just focuses on execution and getting it done up front,” said Mallory. “Defensively we’re smaller upfront, so we’re going to have to take advantage of our speed and quickness there. What we do will be similar to what Navy and Georgia Tech does and what I guess Highland does here and what Skyline at least used to do.”

To run his unique system, Mallory recognized he’d need a quarterback with unique abilities. Enter senior Jeff Van Buren, who hasn’t taken a snap at quarterback since he started playing for Provo.

“I moved Jeff Van Buren from wide receiver to quarterback and he’s done well with it,” said Mallory. “His level of comprehension of the offense at this point is amazing. He sees the game well and knows how we want to attack certain fronts.”

On defense Mallory believes he’ll have the most work cut out for him. Provo enters 2011 undersized and inexperienced — not a good combination for any coach.

“We’re looking for guys to step up and be playmakers,” said Mallory. “I’m teaching them an entire new system and an entire new way of doing things and that might take awhile, but I’ve been pleased with the progress so far.”

Mallory’s ultimate goal is simply to turn Provo into a consistent winner, and he believes the attitude of his players will play a big role.