Dick Harmon: BYU's Mendenhall needs to serve his offense the D's Kool-Aid — and maybe change some of the servers
One guy on the hot seat is likable, talented, player-loved offensive line coach Mark Weber.
After BYU’s loss to Boise State, Weber’s always affable demeanor with the media changed. He began avoiding interviews, making eye contact, being himself. In other words, pressure, which Weber has experienced in a myriad forms at Oregon State, North Carolina and UCLA came to him at BYU.
This week in San Diego, I bumped into a lawyer from Albuquerque, N.M. named Michael Danoff. He knew SDSU coach Rocky Long and Mendenhall when they coached at New Mexico. He knew Mark Weber as a UCLA coach who recruited and signed his son to play for the Bruins. He loves all three men.
For more than an hour in the plaza at Old Town in San Diego, we talked of the men we both knew. They included Rick Majerus, Roger Reid and his sons, Mendenhall, Long and Weber — to mention only a few of dozens.
As our bored wives wandered in opposite directions, Danoff and I stood our ground. It was remarkable that we knew so many of the same faces and stories behind them. We both agreed on Weber; he is a great guy.
“Mark told me BYU was the best job he’s ever had,” said Danoff. “It is the only coaching job he’s ever had where his family time was respected and valued. He loves it there.”
I told him how Weber was always good to interview and very accommodating until about a month into this season, and then he wasn’t the same jovial guy.
We speculated whether Weber would return to BYU next year.
That remains to be seen.
What is obvious is BYU’s offense needs an overhaul. It needs what Mendenhall’s defense is drinking — and probably some different servers. Certainly an element of it is injuries to the line, but a chunk of it is recruiting and revolving missionary service.
And yes, it is true, BYU could have won 11 or 12 games if it had made eight or so more plays. But the dilemma is, how do you design a product on offense to get more of those plays?
Mendenhall could replace only one or two offensive staffers, or he could replace them all. Of the two extremes, I think Mendenhall will do a facelift on that side of the ball in coming weeks.
For those who expect coordinator Brandon Doman to be fired, I wouldn’t bet that to happen.
But to not do something is to set his offense up to be perfectly designed to produce the same results in 2013 — games where Mendenhall’s defense rushes in with lifelines and life rafts just like they did in San Diego. Like they did throughout 2012.
That is not a picture BYU’s ESPN partner expected in this Cougar run at independence.
To re-quote Mendenhall: “We’re increasing the demands, because we want more.”
It will be interesting to see what changes he is willing to make to get more.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at email@example.com.
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