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BYU football: Tight ends play a big role in win over Boise State

Published: Friday, Oct. 25 2013 11:10 p.m. MDT

Brigham Young Cougars tight end Devin Mahina (84) runs for yardage after a catch during a game at Lavell Edwards Stadium on Friday, October 25, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars tight end Devin Mahina (84) runs for yardage after a catch during a game at Lavell Edwards Stadium on Friday, October 25, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

PROVO — Tight ends have been almost absent on the BYU passing tree for the better part of the season, but that changed Friday night against Boise State.

From the outset, quarterback Taysom Hill and the offense made a concerted effort to get the tight ends involved early and often. Seniors Kaneakua Friel and Devin Mahina were particularly integral in the Cougars producing 37 points and 568 yards of offense in a dominating performance

Their respective involvements likely caught the Broncos a bit off guard, considering their combined three receptions for just 41 yards prior.

Friel finished the game with three receptions for 53 yards while Mahina contributed four for 40 yards. Both of them knew they'd get opportunities with starting Y receiver Brett Thompson banged up and unlikely to play.

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill (4) and Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy (3) celebrates the Cougars win over Boise State at Lavell Edwards Stadium on Friday, October 25, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill (4) and Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Kyle Van Noy (3) celebrates the Cougars win over Boise State at Lavell Edwards Stadium on Friday, October 25, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

“It’s been awhile since I got some balls across the middle and balls in general,” Mahina said. “I was just so excited that when I got that [first pass] I just wanted to make some yards.”

Mahina contributed a key reception early but followed it up with a drop. Instead of taking Friel off his passing tree, Hill had enough confidence to go to Mahina on the very next play, which went for big yardage and a big first down.

“Right after [my drop] I went right up to Taysom and told him not to worry — I’d get the next one,” Mahina related. “That’s the kind of thing the quarterback wants — to know that you’re not down and you’re not just going to slump around, but come right back and make a play. I‘m grateful and glad that he had enough confidence to come back to me.”

Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Cody Hoffman (2) makes a bobbled grabbed past Boise State Broncos cornerback Bryan Douglas (1) during a game at Lavell Edwards Stadium on Friday, October 25, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Cody Hoffman (2) makes a bobbled grabbed past Boise State Broncos cornerback Bryan Douglas (1) during a game at Lavell Edwards Stadium on Friday, October 25, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

Not slumping around has been a challenge for Friel, who had 30 receptions and five touchdowns last season. Offensive coordinator Robert Anae’s offense has departed from heavy use of the traditional tight in favor of quicker, shiftier inside receivers.

“At first it was hard for me to stay engaged because I wasn’t getting the ball,” Friel said. “Through the first two weeks of the season I just told myself that I still have a responsibility and I need to be grateful for what I do have and for what I’ve been doing in the game. I think as I’ve improved with that, that things have started coming my way.”

Email: bgurney@desnews.com Twitter: @BrandonCGurney

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