PROVO — In the aftermath of BYU’s heart-wrenching 20-19 loss at Utah last Saturday, offensive coordinator Ty Detmer couldn’t help but second-guess himself all weekend.
“It was a long Saturday night and Sunday,” Detmer said.
On the potential game-winning two-point conversion attempt with 18 seconds remaining, Detmer called a quarterback draw for Taysom Hill that was stopped.
“It wasn’t so much the play, it was not having the options available off of it,” Detmer explained Wednesday. “That was the thing I was disappointed in because I know better than an all-or-nothing type of play.”
Detmer said he and the coaching staff were considering a few plays in that situation. As he talked to the players, “Taysom wanted the ball in his hands. I reverted to that one. If we have some options, where if he sees a full blitz, to signal to a receiver and give him an option for a throw, we’re in a better situation."
Detmer shouldered the blame, referring to the play call “poor coaching on my part.”
Had that two-point conversion been successful, there probably would be less attention on the lack of production and consistency from the offense overall. Through two games under Detmer’s direction, the Cougar offense has scored 18 points and 19 points, respectively.
Nationally, BYU ranks No. 86 (out of 128 teams) in total offense (371.5 yards per game), No. 89 in passing offense (193.5 yards per game), No. 111 in passing efficiency (104.01) and No. 113 in scoring offense (18.5).
The Cougars are the only team in the FBS without a pass play of more than 20 yards, and they have only one passing touchdown.
Nobody in Provo in panicking — yet. And Detmer remains confident in Hill and the offense, despite what the numbers say.
“There’s no question on him throwing the ball or making the right reads. When you go back and watch the film, he’s playing well,” Detmer said of Hill. “He managed the game. I’m not into the stats and what the offense ranks, all those things. If we’re giving ourselves a chance to win every week, that’s what we want — an opportunity to win the game.”
Two of BYU’s best drives of the season came on its final possessions against both Arizona in the season-opener and Utah when the Cougars were trailing and playing with a sense of urgency in the final minutes.
“Maybe just go two minutes the whole game,” Detmer joked. “When we were in hurry-up mode last week, we were pretty efficient.”
What concerns Detmer most is the inability to capitalize on opponents’ turnovers. BYU scored only 13 points on six takeaways last week.
“We’ve got to get more points off of turnovers. That’s a thing that stood out the most,” he said. “We had opportunities for more points early in the game.”
BYU’s offense is looking to make big plays and score more touchdowns Saturday (8:15 p.m. MDT, ESPN2) when the Cougars host UCLA.
“We’re definitely ready to break out. There’s no way that we’re going to always put up just 18 or 19 points,” said wide receiver Mitchell Juergens. “We’re ready for a breakout game and put a lot of points on the board. We do have a dynamic offense. For some reason, we haven’t capped off drives. We’ve been working on that. We need playmakers to step up and get the ball in the end zone.”
“Obviously, we want to score every time we get the ball,” Detmer said. “But knowing that we’re playing good teams and it’s a tough schedule, we’re in a chance to win the game. That’s what we’re looking at the end. As an OC, you want to score 40 a game, but it doesn’t always happen that way all the time when you get into the flow of the game.”
Hill said he learned a lot from the loss at Utah, adding that the offense needs more focus.
“We need to be cleaner. On every play, there was one guy that just wouldn’t do his assignment,” he explained. “It’s hard to execute at a high level when you’re playing a good defense when those things are going on. As we move forward, we’ve got to make sure that all 11 guys know what their responsibility is and they’re taking care of it.”