PROVO — BYU wide receiver Ross Apo has set a lofty benchmark for himself this season.
"I just want to get better numbers than last year. My main goal is to try to get over 1,000 (receiving) yards," he said. "I always want to get higher numbers than the year before."
The sophomore from Arlington, Texas, caught 34 passes for 453 yards and nine touchdowns a year ago.
Apo is confident that he can reach his goal. But will there be enough passes to go around for Apo and the Cougars' other top receivers, Cody Hoffman and JD Falslev?
"Definitely, especially with the new offense that we have," Apo said, referring to the up-tempo approach BYU is utilizing. "We'll be able to run two times as many plays as we did last year. With Cody and JD out on the field, they open it up a lot. We do the same for the other receivers. Plus, the run game. You've seen the running backs. They're running out of their minds right now. That's only going to make it easier for the wide receivers. I think everyone will get a lot of touches this year."
Opposing defenses are expected to place a lot of attention on Hoffman, who caught 61 passes for 943 yards in 2011, which could free up Apo to make a bigger impact.
"In any given game, Cody could score three touchdowns, or four. He's done it before," Apo said. "That's what we do for each other. We get open and try to make everyone else's job easier. I'm going to try to do the same for him. He's a reliable guy."
Apo, who was part of the same recruiting class as quarterback Jake Heaps, who has since transferred to Kansas, said his rapport with quarterback Riley Nelson took some time last year.
"Riley's a totally different quarterback and you've got to get used to his ball," Apo said. "He's a lefty, so sometimes the ball takes a little different spin that you're not used to seeing. Until you've seen 1,000 of his balls, you're not used to it. I think we're okay now."
TEXAS TECH ROOTS: Former BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae was an offensive line coach under Mike Leach at Texas Tech before coming to Provo in 2005 as the Cougars' offensive coordinator.
Of course, Anae is now coaching at Arizona, while Leach is now the head coach at Washington State — which is BYU's season-opening opponent.
BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said Anae installed many aspects of Texas Tech's "Air Raid" offense when he came to Provo.
"It started out almost identical (to Texas Tech's). That's how it started," he said. "Then we put our own version as we went. It shifted to two backs. The terminology and formations, it all helped. It seems like a long time ago. There are some of those concepts in what we do now."
HIGH EXPECTATIONS: Running back Iona Pritchard is optimistic that BYU's offense will be both versatile and prolific this season.
"The offense, we've got a good group of guys. We have a lot of returning starters," he said. "You can expect some great things from the pass game and the run game. I think this is a big year. This year, we're going to show what BYU is all about."
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company