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.”
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.
So, the challenge for Anae is to keep working on that philosophy while elevating the pass game. Why? Because teams are stacking the box, daring the Cougars to pass the ball, and that makes the run struggle.
Speaking of quarterbacks, during BYU’s bye week, Anae and QB coach Jason Beck visited Somerset High in Texas, a team coached by Sonny Detmer. There they took a peek at sophomore QB Koy Detmer, Sonny’s grandson and nephew of Ty Detmer. Koy Detmer, so far this season, is 51 of 75 for 927 yards and 12 touchdowns. His Bulldog team is 2-1 and he’s had a pair of passing games over 370 yards.
My leaders for the Heisman race are: 1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon; 2. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville; 3. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M; 4. A.J. McCarron, QB, Texas A&M; 5. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State.
This week’s predictions:
TCU 37, Southern Methodist 14: Gary Patterson’s defense delivers the Metroplex showdown victory.
LSU 21, Georgia 17: Bulldogs are very good but the Tigers have too much firepower and a solid defense.
Washington 24, Arizona 21: Steve Sarkisian continues to march on.
Alabama 38, Mississippi 28: Ole Miss hasn’t defeated ‘Bama in nine years. Make it 10.
Oregon 45, California 21: The Duck walk continues in the Pac-12.
Arizona State 9, USC 7: The Sun Devils win a defensive battle.
Oklahoma 28, Notre Dame 24: The Fighting Irish don’t have enough weapons.
Stanford 24, Washington State 14: Mike Leach is good, but he needs another season.
Utah State 34, San Jose State 17: Aggies polish up and Chuckie Keeton rolls.
BYU 28, Middle Tennessee State 7: A must-win for Robert Anae and his go-hard and fast offense in search of blue zone points.
Last week, 7-3: Overall 22-9 (.709)
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company