Tom Smart, Deseret News
PROVO — BYU senior receiver JD Falslev firmly believes that his third position coach in as many years is the charm.
Guy Holliday joined BYU’s offensive staff just prior to the start of spring practices. It didn’t take long for him to leave an impression on fans, media and, most importantly, his players.
“I love him,” Falslev said. “That’s not to say I didn’t love coach (Ben) Cahoon or coach (Patrick) Higgins because I loved them as well, but coach Holliday is someone I believe we need right now. He’s someone who will get the best out of all of us.”
Falslev sat out of spring practices due to an ankle injury, but sat in meetings and all other team functions to get an impression of Holliday.
What he found is a hard-nosed coach — but in a good way.
“A lot of coaches are old-school and get after you, but the difference with coach Holliday is that he cares about you; he wants the best for you; and he lets you know that,” Falslev said. “That aspect changes everything because when he’s yelling at you, you listen and take in what he has to say. He has so much knowledge of the game.”
While it’s been frustrating adjusting to a new coach at times, Falslev believes he and his teammates will benefit from it.
“Each coach we’ve had taught us a little something different and when you can draw on all that knowledge you can be that much stronger,” he said. “I learned so much from coach Higgins and from coach Cahoon and I still have a great relationship with them, so is it easy adjusting to a new coach? I’d say it isn’t easy, but we’re going to be better for it.”
Because of offensive coordinator Robert Anae's new offense, Falslev hopes he's poised to go out with a bang in his final season at BYU. Anae's offense is a spread system where slot receivers have seen a lot of success.
The shifty 5-foot-8 Falslev appears to be tailor fit for the role of slot receiver.
“We were able to do a lot of good things with Nate Meikle playing slot when I was here before and JD Falslev could definitely be a guy who we can do that same sort of stuff with along with some other guys we‘re looking at,” Anae said. “I want to see him out there practicing, but I’ve seen his film and I liked what I saw.”
The receiving corps will be led by Cody Hoffman entering fall camp, but most other starting positions are up for grabs. One of the more heated battles looks to be opposite Hoffman, where junior Ross Apo will work to earn his starting role back from senior Skyler Ridley, a surprise starter out of spring practices.
“I like how Ross (Apo) has worked and we’ll see how he continues to work this August,” Holliday said. “I like his ability, but he needs more confidence and needs to be more consistent. Skyler Ridley is a dependable guy, the type of guy you want out there, so yeah, they’ll continue to battle into fall camp.”
Another receiver who hopes to make a big impact at wide receiver is 6-foot-6 sophomore Mitch Mathews.
“Mitch Mathews is fast and explosive — especially for someone of his height,” Holliday noted. “I really liked what I saw from him in spring and he’s just a great athlete. I’m excited to see him progress and hopefully he’s done what’s necessary in the offseason to progress.”
Overall Holliday likes what he’s seen from his players and is excited for them.
“They’ve responded well to what I’m trying to teach and they have a lot of ability as a group,” he said. “I think we have some good players with good experience. Certainly you have Cody Hoffman who was dominant last year, but you have some guys like Kurt Henderson and a great talent like Mike Davis coming in who could also help us. I’m excited to get going.”
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