Mark A. Philbrick/BYU, Mark A. Philbrick/BYU
PROVO — It’s hard to sugarcoat the fact that BYU’s offense has been shockingly inept against quality opponents through six games this season. After a somewhat promising start against Washington State, the offense later slogged its way against Utah, Boise State and Utah State.
Sure, the offense was able to do some good things late against the Utes, but its execution during critical moments of the contest was very poor. The offense was able to romp over Weber State and then over Hawaii, but, with all due respect, who doesn’t romp over those defenses?
So what is wrong with the Cougar offense and can it be fixed?
With rumors swirling around about Taysom Hill possibly being done for the season with a knee injury and consecutive matchups with Oregon State, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech on the horizon, things don’t appear all that rosy.
Just about every fan and pundit has an opinion about what is wrong with BYU’s offense and this pundit certainly has his. Here are five things I’ve observed that have contributed to the offensive struggles this season:
1. No clear identity
Remember when coach Robert Anae was the worst offensive coordinator in the history of college football? OK, most fans didn’t take their opinions to that degree, but it was largely celebrated by just about everyone when Anae was dismissed to make room for Brandon Doman.
We all remember the handwringing about the offense Anae ran at BYU. "Boring," "predictable," "uncreative" and "punchless" were the words often used to describe Anae’s offense against fast and athletic defenses.
Sure, Anae’s offenses had all of those issues, but one issue it didn’t have was a clear identity. Opponents knew what BYU ran and how it would attack a defense. Fans knew it and, most importantly, the players on offense knew it.
So what is the identity of the Brandon Doman offense?
“It’s going to be dependant on what the personnel is, on who is playing quarterback and what does our run game look like, what do our running backs do well?" said Doman after being hired as offensive coordinator in January 2011. "To sit here and say definitively on what the offense is going to look like, I’ve learned enough about football as a player and as a coach that you create the offense around the talent that you have.
"That will be sorted out over time within the next few months and deciding on what the players can do great and on what they can’t do very well and then put together an offense that suits who we are and what we can do, hopefully better than anyone in the country.”
Doman went on to state that he wanted to keep the tradition of passing at BYU while exploring ways to consistently deceive an opposing defense — something Anae largely didn't do all that well.
“I want to throw the football. I’ve grown up in these backwoods of BYU football and I’ve seen it at its very finest," said Doman. "I don’t think you can throw the football very effectively if you don’t run the ball well. The defense has to be guessing all the time and a good offense is an offense that puts the defense at bay all the time. I want defenses that go against our offenses to be guessing all the time and to be guessing wrong. We’ll put together an offense that can hopefully do that.”
The big problem for much of Doman's tenure as OC has been BYU's inability to run the football. The inability to mount an effective ground game has kept defenses confident and clued-in on what BYU is bringing offensively on most occasions — much like Anae's offenses, ironically.
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