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Commentary: There's high expectations for Cody Hoffman and BYU's wide receivers

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 1 2015 11:09 p.m. MDT

Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Cody Hoffman (2) runs against Washington State Cougars cornerback Damante Horton (6) in Provo  Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Cody Hoffman (2) runs against Washington State Cougars cornerback Damante Horton (6) in Provo Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

BYU fans have high expectations for BYU's wide receivers this season.

And why not? Cody Hoffman is back for 2013 despite a good chance of going in the early rounds of this year's NFL draft.

Hoffman was BYU's clear go-to wide receiver last season as he made 100 receptions for 1,248 yards and 11 touchdowns. That's remarkable given that an injured Riley Nelson was throwing to him, not a star quarterback like Clemson's Tajh Boyd.

Hoffman has near-ideal wide receiver size at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds. He's got great hands and excels at beating the coverage and making that great catch.

Little wonder that Bleacher Report NFL draft guru Matt Miller has Hoffman going late in the first round in the 2014 draft.

Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Cody Hoffman (2) during first half action as BYU plays Idaho in the Cougar's final home football game on 2012  Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012,in Provo, Utah.  
 (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Cody Hoffman (2) during first half action as BYU plays Idaho in the Cougar's final home football game on 2012 Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012,in Provo, Utah. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Hoffman had more receiving yards than all of BYU's other wide receivers put together.

And there lies the problem. As good as Hoffman is, the Cougars need more than just one solid wide receiver if they want to move the ball consistently.

The sad fact is that BYU hasn't played like the pass-happy program that fans have come to know and love. The Cougars had 3,214 passing yards last season. That barely puts them in the Top 50 in the nation.

That's not bad, but it's also not BYU football.

Of course, BYU's quarterback woes deserve part of the blame. The Cougars played an injured Riley Nelson for most of the season, and Nelson just couldn't throw the ball deep.

Therefore, BYU had to depend on short completions and not throwing the deep ball. While that's a good way to pick up medium chunks of yardage, it also puts a lot of pressure on the wide receivers to pick up extra yardage.

Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Cody Hoffman (2) catches a touchdown pass over Idaho Vandals cornerback Jayshawn Jordan (4) during first half action as BYU plays Idaho in the Cougar's final home football game on 2012  Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012,in Provo, Utah.  
 (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Cody Hoffman (2) catches a touchdown pass over Idaho Vandals cornerback Jayshawn Jordan (4) during first half action as BYU plays Idaho in the Cougar's final home football game on 2012 Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012,in Provo, Utah. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Fortunately, Robert Anae is back as offensive coordinator and Taysom Hill is the new starting quarterback. Anae put together a decent passing attack the first time he served as offensive coordinator, plus he's sure to have learned something from Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez.

And while Hill isn't exactly a big-time pocket passer, at least he hopefully won't have to throw with cracked vertebrae.

That should make life perhaps a bit easier in one sense for BYU's wide receivers, but it also means that they'll have to deal with higher expectations.

And BYU is going to need more than Hoffman to meet those expectations.

Senior JD Falslev is back and he's proved his salt as a punt and kickoff return man. However, he will need to step up from his 37 receptions and two touchdowns.

Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Cody Hoffman (2)  warms up prior to  the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego  Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012.    (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Cody Hoffman (2) warms up prior to the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Ross Apo also needs to step up his game, particularly given how much hype and attention he received when he first came to Provo. Apo was a highly touted recruit as the No. 13 wide receiver and No. 108 recruit in the nation, according to Rivals.

Apo had to take a medical redshirt his freshman season after injuring his index finger so badly that he had to have surgery. However, he bounced back with a decent redshirt freshman season with 453 yards and nine touchdowns.

Then the injury bug bit Apo again, this time with a shoulder injury during spring camp. He was able to play in 2012, but he had only 311 yards and one touchdown.

That's not what BYU fans expected from Apo, but he still has two whole seasons to live up to those expectations. He proved his freshman season that he can score touchdowns, and there's no reason to think that he can't have a breakout season.

Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Ross Apo (1) warms up prior to  the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego  Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012.    (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Ross Apo (1) warms up prior to the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

However, senior Skyler Ridley has passed Apo on the latest depth chart, thanks to an impressive spring camp performance.

Ridley doesn't have extensive experience as a starter, but he did have a good game against Washington State with 54 yards and a touchdown. It will be interesting to see how he performs as a starter.

Also, having Apo come in off of the bench may actually help him in the long run.

No one expects Falsev, Apo or Ridley to rise to the elite level of Hoffman this season. However, if BYU is to succeed against its brutal 2013 schedule, it is going to have to live up to some high expectations.

Lafe Peavler is a national college football featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @MasterPeavler

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