Dick Harmon: BYU offense must be as clean as its defense

Published: Monday, Sept. 17 2012 10:00 p.m. MDT

This responsibility is also on the entire offensive organization. Getting plays called late, failing to execute a silent count, messing around with signals and yelling out calls as the play clock winds down and not getting the right personnel in position ready for the hike is a disaster waiting to happen.

Nobody questions Nelson’s heart, his leadership, his desire and guts.

Petersen took time out to praise Nelson on Monday, calling him a defensive-minded player playing offense, a guy who uses the run as part of his game. “He puts his pads down and doesn’t look to run out of bounds.”

But Thursday, it’s going to take a lot more from Nelson — and I’m not talking about what he can and cannot do with his arm, his legs or his knowledge of the offense.

He’s going to have to lead a charge to lift BYU to a much higher level of execution. He cannot afford to take a play that is failing and try to save it all the time. He’ll get away with it 95 percent against most teams, but that percentage drops against the elite. Play good teams and numbers ultimately catch up with you on these tries at salvation.

Sometimes there is no shame in taking a knee or throwing the ball out of bounds.

Sometimes it is the only option.

Riley should have been intercepted or lost fumbles half a dozen times more than what you see in the books this season.

Against teams like Utah, Boise State, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, the kinds of decisions he makes in these areas of chaos — in which he really succeeds — can be the difference between wins and losses.

Receiving a center hike, a simple act like that, has to be a life-or-death act for Nelson and his offensive coordinator Brandon Doman. Whatever it takes, short of illegal use of electronic radio communications between him and his center, must be part of practices Monday and Tuesday.

The time is short, but so much of BYU’s challenge goes to cleaning up simple things.

Can it be done?

We shall see.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at dharmon@desnews.com.

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