PROVO — BYU's offense has had a lot of varying struggles throughout the season, with the most recent one of note being that of starting slow. Ultimately, the Cougars rebounded to put up relatively high scores in wins over Massachusetts and New Mexico State after incurring slow starts, but should the offense start slow against the likes of Utah, the ability to rebound may prove much tougher.
Starting faster is very much in the mind of BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes as he prepares his offense to take on a typically stingy Utah defense.
“It’s extremely important, and the way to approach it is that we really have to look at the plays that we call early in the game and find the things that we think we can execute best regardless of what defense they call,” Grimes said.
Some would assess BYU's slow starts offensively as a product of a lack of energy at the start, although Grimes argues the opposite.
“I think some of it comes from youth and them being a bit too anxious,” Grimes said. “I think those guys need to understand that we’ve played enough football by now. Because once those guys settle in, we tend to do a whole lot better.”
BYU's slow offensive starts haven't been all negative, as Grimes is quick to point out.
“The positive is that we’ve learned this season how to continue playing and dig ourselves out of that,” Grimes said. “I felt like early in the year that when things didn’t go well for us early that we tended to get down and lost our confidence a bit. I feel we’ve grown in resiliency, which is a real positive.”
RED ZONE WOES: Another one of BYU's struggles has come with red zone execution, although recent weeks have seen an uptick in execution and subsequent results. As for Utah, however, its proven to be one of the top defenses around in holding opposing offenses short of the end zone for a fairly specific reason, according to Grimes.
“They have a specific defense that they play and they’ve been running that defense for a number of years, and they’re very confident in their ability to stop the plays,” Grimes noted. “There’s only so many things that you can do down there. It gets compressed offensively, so they do a great job of taking away those things that are most common.”
NO DEFICIENCIES: When preparing to take on most defenses, coaches can almost always find some weakness to exploit, but as for Utah, Grimes claimed to the media that he's having trouble finding any weakness.
“They’re big. They’re strong and they’re fast, and they’re very well-coached,” Grimes said. “So it’s a challenge at every position. There’s no weak link.”
As Grimes often does he provided specifics on each of Utah's position groups on the defensive side, providing a thorough evaluation of each while citing each position group holds just about every strength imaginable starting with the defensive front.4 comments on this story
“Their defensive linemen — it’s a typical Utah defensive line,” Grimes said. “They’re big, strong, powerful and aggressive. They do a great job defending the run, and at the same time they do a great job at pushing the pocket with really powerful rushers.”
He then heaped on praise to the linebackers while finishing up with what he believes is a very strong Utah defensive backfield.
“There’s no deficiencies. Their safeties cover and defend the run well, and they have really good corners who can cover and read on the outside,” Grimes said.