PROVO — BYU's offense has a plan, and the Cougars are sticking to it.
That was the message conveyed loud and clear by players and coaches following Tuesday’s practice.
In the wake of last Saturday’s struggles against Utah, fans and media members alike have cried out for dramatic changes within the Cougars' offense. As usual, most of the angst surrounds the quarterback position. After three games, sophomore Taysom Hill has an anemic 35 percent completion percentage.
Changes, however, won’t be coming anytime soon, according to people within the program.
Coaches and players expressed confidence in the "go fast, go hard" offense — believing that the team's consistency issues will simply be worked out through more repetition. Regarding Hill’s specific struggles, players and coaches insist the blame shouldn’t fall on just his shoulders.
“It’s on all of us and everyone needs to stop worrying about everyone else‘s job and just focus on their own job,” said receiver JD Falslev. “If we do that, then things will work itself out. We love Taysom — we love his ability — and our focus is now to do everything we can to make sure he can be as successful as possible. It’s on all of us.”
Specific to the receivers is the issue of simply catching the football, which hasn’t happened with enough consistency thus far.
According to receivers coach Guy Holliday, improvements will happen as the Cougars work on two specific areas. First is learning to catch better on contact and second is working on the simple timing between quarterback and receiver.
“We’re working on it and it will come,” Holliday said. “We think it’s going to come (next game), and it’s my responsibility to make sure that happens. It will be taken care of. ... Nobody is more disappointed in the passing game than I am. No fan is even close to being as disappointed as I am and it‘s my responsibility to fix it. I‘ll get it fixed.”
As for fixing the quarterback issues specifically, coaches are sticking with Hill without giving much thought of replacing him with backup Ammon Olsen.
“We’re a long ways away from that,” said quarterbacks coach Jason Beck about a potential switch. “We’re pleased with where Taysom is at and how he’s playing and where this is headed with the system we’re running. We’re excited about Ammon Olsen, but no, we’re not close to making a switch.”
Regarding Hill’s tendency to overthrow his receivers — sometimes by a great margin — Beck believes it’s an issue of being too careful.
“He’s very careful in throwing away from coverage,” Beck said. “He doesn’t force the ball very often where guys can make plays on it, so he’s very cognizant in throwing it away from defenders. Sometimes it just gets away from him a little bit. We’re working with his footwork and on those throws to be more accurate with them.”
Hill has star receiver Cody Hoffman and others to throw to, but he'll have to get his passes closer to them than he has so far.
“We definitely need to get the ball to those guys better — no question,” Beck said.
All in all, fans shouldn’t expect any dramatic changes anytime soon, but they should expect improvement, according to Falslev.
“It’s going to come and we’re going to make sure of that,” the senior captain said. “We don’t like letting fans down, but we especially don’t like letting ourselves down. We expect more of ourselves and that’s what is driving us. We’ll get this thing fixed. It’s going to take everyone, and I believe everyone is completely focused and working as hard as possible to get it done. We believe in each other and we believe in our system.”
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @BrandonCGurney
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company