PROVO — Jeff Grimes hasn’t called a game yet as BYU’s offensive coordinator, but his impact on the program is already paying dividends and is ever so crucial.
At BYU football media day, Grimes received praise from fellow coaches and players for the atmosphere he helped create the past half year.
The former LSU and Auburn offensive line coach is taking best methods from his myriad career stops and trying to give head coach Kalani Sitake an offense that is dependable, productive, balanced, accountable and tough to defend.
He delegates and gets everyone involved.
He trusts but verifies.
He also knows he’ll need some time.
He’s empowered his assistants and those around him to be invested in the product, thus sharing in the creation, development, responsibility and ownership of what he’ll unveil in Tucson Sept. 1.
That approach makes 2018 very intriguing with three former offensive coordinators — Steve Clark, Fesi Sitake and Aaron Roderick — all at the drawing board.
“He didn’t just come in, plop a playbook on the table and say, 'This is what we did at Auburn when we won a national championship. Do it,'” said Roderick.
Instead, Grimes created a kind of roundtable like King Arthur in Camelot. Everyone had a say, including graduate assistant coaches with NFL experience like Dallas Reynolds and Harvey Unga.
“He’s the most inclusive coordinator I’ve ever been around," said Roderick.
It’s an interesting model, something Grimes has formulated after a couple of decades being in the mix at not only BYU before, but also at Boise State and many other stops.
Football is an interesting sport. It partially needs the military style of a battlefield, where authority is demanding and strict rules are necessary to create discipline and exactness of heart and soul. But it is also part kinship, respect, esprit de corps and leadership that make players want to follow because of a bond that is born naturally and cannot be artificially manufactured.
We’ve all seen college and NFL teams implode during adversity when programs are built on personality, ego or mismanagement. When things come crashing down, and at times all teams face those moments, it takes a lot of bonding from inside to survive and rebound from terrible moments — and all teams have to rebound.
This is a season where BYU’s resiliency will be strongly tested. This is a team that will have two kinds of moments — wins, maybe close wins, and nights when superior programs will simply drain everything BYU has and what it has won’t be enough. A year ago injuries were a big factor that impacted not only games but also practices leading up to games. A seven-game losing streak signaled that it was too much to overcome with reinventions on Mondays.
The Cougars will play two top-10 teams on the road in Washington and Wisconsin. They’ll get Utah and Boise State on the road, programs not used to losing at home. The opener at Arizona features one of college football’s most intriguing coaches in former Texas A&M pilot Kevin Sumlin.
So, it is interesting how Grimes is going about it. He knows, as does Sitake and defensive coaches Ilaisa Tuiaki and Ed Lamb, that they’ll all be better at their respective jobs, and be able to manage games better if they play with points on their side early. That edge changes the dynamics of formations, in-game adjustments and how aggressive or passive all need to be with play calls.
BYU needs an offense to be successful. It cannot grind it out in 2018, not against this schedule playing Power 5 teams. A hit-and-miss offense won't do.
It needs the BYU tradition of smoke and mirrors.
Traditionally, that has come on offense. Max Hall to Austin Collie and Andrew George, and John Beck to Jonny Harline produced that. Go down the line — from Jim McMahon to Marc Wilson; Steve Young to Robbie Bosco; Ty Detmer to Steve Sarkisian and even Brandon Doman — and you can point out those moments when big offensive plays were the absolute difference.
BYU doesn't beat Texas without Taysom Hill rattling the Longhorn defense to its program's core.
Detmer proved in the NCAA record 52-52 tie at San Diego State with Marshall Faulk that you can do a lot in a game without defense. But you cannot get on the track and hope to be in a race without offense.
BYU football without big offensive plays is kind of like junior college football. It’s a program that must have a big-play offense to survive as an independent with ESPN as a partner. BYU needs to invest in and create an offense no matter the cost. I think they paid an installment on that with Grimes and this staff back in January.
We shall see.16 comments on this story
This is why the job Grimes is doing is so interesting this summer. He recently told reporters the plays that win games aren’t called in the heat of battle, rather they are polished and mastered in the offseason, many times in the heat of summer.
That is where BYU football is at this moment.
It’s just four weeks until BYU’s football train prepares the cars behind the engine for destinations yet to be defined. The offense is the engine.
It will be an interesting journey and these mental pieces created this spring and summer are critical.