Dick Harmon: BYU needs to focus on craft of quarterbacking

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 25 2013 4:30 p.m. MDT

Utah Utes defensive end Trevor Reilly (9) pursues Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill (4) during NCAA football in Provo Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013.

Andrew J. Allred, Deseret News

PROVO — The craft of quarterbacking and the teaching of this lofty art is sorely needed by inheritors of the brand at BYU.

And they know it.

This is a place that has traditionally owned this craft, churning out Davey O’Brien and Maxwell Award winners like China does toys. All-America passers galore sprouting up like weeds, the school capped with a Heisman Trophy winner in 1990.

It takes talent, hard work, schemes, repetitions, timing and teamwork.

The pass. BYU. For one not to be able to do the other is like the Ford Motor Company telling you, “Sorry, our fuel injection systems are 37 percent efficient.”

The pass?

Can it emerge in some form this week when BYU hosts Middle Tennessee State in LaVell Edwards Stadium on Friday night?

“We’re still finding out who we are,” said sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill. “But there needs to be a sense of urgency to get things done.”

Hill, a strong, albeit sometimes wild-armed QB, is the pupil in dire need of pass-craft from offensive coordinator Robert Anae and Jason Beck, who was specifically hired to be hands-on as a specialist in this area.

Anae said struggles in the pass game are an indication of where the offense is; that improvement needs to come in protection first, then receivers going where they should go, the passer throwing it accurately and receivers catching it.

“We’re not there yet,” said Anae.

“It comes with time,” said Hill.

“Nobody is as disappointed in the passing game as I am,” said receiver coach Guy Holliday. “No fan is even close to as disappointed as I am; it's my responsibility to fix it, and I’m going to get it done.”

Anae said all offensive coaches feel the same way.

After throwing 30 incompletions in a loss to Utah at home last Saturday night, Hill’s passing ability has been under scrutiny, but he’s been the victim of some drops and mistakes by his receivers and challenges in protection from his line.

Thing is, he’s shown extreme power in his arm, throwing impressive passes that may or may not have met the target, but he’s also missed what looks like easy passes in a simple range while unpressured.

This week, Bronco Mendenhall told reporters BYU’s passing game, ranked last in the nation individually in pass efficiency, has lagged in development due to the implementation of a go-fast, go-hard high tempo philosophy that has focused on the read option, zone blocking and run game with this 1-2 start.

One step before the other.

And he’s right.

Anae said the run game is up and down and the passing game is lagging. He says it’s part of a puzzle that needs to be pushed forward and mature.

Holliday said it isn’t an excuse but Hill is really just a freshman quarterback. He also said NFL receivers don’t run 90 plays in a game.

Regardless, it’s tough to see.

BYU passing like Air Force is laborious to watch. It’s like going to the salt flats to watch a Volkswagen.

To make BYU’s offense tick, the ideology Anae banked everything on, it is imperative that the Cougars get the run game going and face shorter third-down situations. That hasn’t happened except for the blowout with Texas.

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