PROVO — Brandon Doman knows BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall will hold him accountable if BYU's offense doesn't perform to a higher level.
That's why he got the offense together on Monday and told players they have to practice harder, execute better, score sooner, be nastier and more determined with a greater sense of urgency.
Then came practice.
By all accounts from offensive line coach Mark Weber, offensive tackle Braden Brown and defensive linebacker Brandon Ogletree, Monday's practice showed progress.
BYU is a couple of plays from being undefeated at 4-0 instead of 2-2. But the gap is bigger than that with Cougar offensive execution, according to the offensive coordinator.
"We can't keep turning the football over," said Doman. "If you add up the mistakes, I'm not sure if we qualify for wins in those losses. Even though we were a fingernail away from knocking the ball down or not hitting the goal post for wins, it is encouraging they are fighting to the end. We just can't keep making the mistakes we are making.
"I am the leader, so I'm master of the design. You are perfectly designed to get the results that you get, and the results we are getting are not what we want so we have to change the design. I have to ask more out of them and they need to hold themselves accountable. Our statistics have to be better and we have to stop making mistakes."
The past two games, BYU has played with senior quarterback Riley Nelson, who has what is described as a "sore back." Doman said Nelson is a step slow and that caused his signal-caller to react slower than he thought, or the coaches thought.
Riley told reporters Monday he knows he isn't playing like he did in the first game, a win over Washington State. "I see the film. I know," he said.
What happens with Nelson this week is something Doman and Mendenhall will watch carefully leading up to Friday's kickoff against Hawaii.
Doman says he will do what needs to be done, either going with Riley or backup freshman Taysom Hill.
"The script and offense are tailored for Riley right now, and it fits with what Taysom does," said Doman.
In the Boise State game, after four turnovers, he called down to Mendenhall and said a QB change was needed. Hill was involved in a fumble upon entering the game deep in Boise State territory.
"But I thought we could do some things against them and we needed someone to fight our way down the field," Doman said. "Taysom did just that."
Weber said on Monday his offensive line is still a work in progress. "We made progress today. It is up and down, we made some progress during the weeks. There are things to fix, guys are still learning, some are making strides, but we have work to do."
Weber said his offensive line is not limited to what it can do with Doman's playbook, it's more of a matter of getting young players prepared and working together. "It's a matter of getting better. We got better today. We pushed them hard and the more we pushed them, the better they did it."
Tackle Braden Brown said there are no excuses, but hard work is required. He admitted BYU's offensive line has had a tough time hearing line calls at Utah and Boise. "At times last week, we couldn't even hear the call in the huddle, let along line block calls from the center and then relay it down the line."
Brown said what is done is done. BYU's line just has to improve. "Today was our best Monday practice of the season. We had a lot of soul searching to do offensively and with Doman today in meetings, we need to change our mindset and put it all on the field."
Brown said young players have to get older. Players can't question their assignments and play with hesitancy; they just have to play.
"We have a lot to prove up front. I feel we've let the team down the last couple of weeks, and that's now what we want our team to see. We have a lot to make up for and we have a lot to prove up front."
Who knows how much progress BYU's offense can make before meeting Hawaii? Certainly the agenda is long.
But playing Hawaii, a 1-2 team that gave up 69 points and 575 yards to Nevada last Saturday, may help.
"I don't have any reason to think our offense won't improve," said linebacker Ogletree. "I have to trust the coaches and the players that it will get done."
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