If you were the offensive coordinator for BYU, what one thing would you want to try to get BYU’s offense firing?
Carl: Throw the ball down the field. BYU needs to be effective passing to give a chance that our running game will work. What cannot be disputed is Cody Hoffman is a great wide receiver. He’ll be remembered by Cougar fans long after he leaves. We’ll reminisce at how he performed when given the opportunities. But we’ll also remember how under-utilized he was during much of his time here. He’s available, BYU, and so are Ross Apo and Kaneakua Friel. I’d love to see the quarterback line up in shotgun, with Alisa and Williams on either side, with Friel on the line and Hoffman and Apo split on either side. I’d love to see them run all their offense through this set; running, passing, play action, trick plays, designed screens, roll outs, etc. It may look vanilla on paper, but you could run just about everything that BYU has shown thus far this season through it. The key is to pass, and to pass for more than 75 yards in a game. This isn’t the SEC.
Matt: I’m going to cop out and agree with Carl here. BYU needs to stretch the field. The ESPN crew said it was such a shameful waste of talent (speaking of Hoffman and Apo) that they weren’t being used. You have 6’4”, 6’3”, and 6’5” (in Friel). There aren’t many defensive backfields (or linebackers) that can cover that kind of size and talent. But with a throw-it-underneath kind of offense, you don’t have to do much to stop it. The quarterback has to stretch the field and make the secondary stay back.
Do you expect BYU to score more points on Friday than their previous two games combined and if so, how do they do it? (Previous combined total is 27.)
Carl: Yes, but barely. Look for an extension of what we saw at Boise. Very slow out of the gates, but I think they’ll figure things out and begin scoring points against an inferior opponent.
Matt: They will cover, but not by much. The difference is in that this Hawaii offense is horrendous so the Cougar defense should have a field day. I don’t expect much more than one field goal out of the Warriors.
Doman said after Thursday night’s loss that QB Riley Nelson is “hurt bad. (That) he’s fighting through an injury that is significant.” However, the day before the game, Nelson said, “My back is feeling really good, thank you. And no, it is not (limiting my movement.)” Who do you trust and what needs to happen here?
Carl: You have to trust Doman on this. Nelson may have had a cortisone shot in him when asked that question, so there could be elements of truth to both. But any armchair quarterback knew Riley was not himself. If Riley is still Bronco’s guy, he simply needs show that he’s at or near 100 percent on the practice field before going back in. No words or promises will get Riley back out there until he proves it.
Matt: I can feel myself approaching my soap box and I’m going to do my best to stay off. (But I don’t guarantee I won’t jump on it for another post later.) BYU’s obsession (read: Bronco’s obsession) with loyalty to grit and determination is approaching the border of crazy town. Riley Nelson at 100% is a limited quarterback. He can’t throw a decent ball past 20 yards and he isn’t a stellar runner. He’s a gamer and a playmaker and he is on the edge of serviceable at 100%. If he isn’t 100%, you can’t tell me that Taysom Hill or even James Lark are not better options than he is. I know the system isn’t built for Lark (that is Doman’s fault) and Hill is still only a freshman and they are jittery after the Jake Heaps fiasco, but at some point, you roll with the best option, not the gritty leader at only 80%. I don’t trust Riley to make the right decision and I don’t trust Bronco to make the logical one. And since they are the two that matters, I have a hard time seeing success after this week in the next 4 weeks.
It seems that each season we allow ourselves to believe that the Cougars year is this year and buy into the hype that it will be special. Now the Cougars have back-to-back losses against Utah and Boise State. Is the 2012 season over? If not, how do we stay positive for the final 8 games plus a bowl game?
Carl: Yes, and it ends in San Diego at the Poinsettia Bowl. It doesn’t matter if we put ATI’s Matt as QB, BYU will beat Hawaii, Idaho, San Jose State and New Mexico State. That puts the Cougars at 6 wins and in a bowl game. Such a shame as we always expect bigger things. For me, I always temper my expectations of BYU by the past, and that we always need a little luck to roll our way to get to a BCS bowl. I never expect to be BCS bound every year, but it’s a real shame that the quality product BYU puts out every year can’t get seasons panned out the way the fans hoped they would. There’s a bitter, chalky, taste in my mouth right now writing about this…like Maalox. After so many years of near misses, or what could have-beens, it’s time for BYU to have a season we know they’re capable of.
Matt: That might be stretching it just a bit far Carl. I’m probably more limited than Riley Nelson is. But I digress. The coaching had staff better figure out a way to get the team up for Utah State. That’s my “the season is over” game. Lose to the Aggies at home and this team has nothing left to play for. But it starts over each week. Can you get your team to get up for Utah State then Oregon State, then Notre Dame, and then Georgia Tech? Because each loss just drives one more nail into the season’s coffin so you gotta keep winning. Even though the prize is San Diego regardless, winning out now shows the team, the fans, and the nation that BYU is legit. You just have to go do it.
@SuperPerks: Are the running game struggles because of scheme, Doman’s inexperience, offensive line issues, or lack of talent? Or is it something else?
Carl: All of the above. And they’re all compounded by each other. When you talk scheme, that’s really an extension of Doman’s inexperience. Doman has been limited in the last 2 games by a quarterback who can’t throw and defenses who know you can’t. Putting 8-9 guys in the box is a tough challenge being productive in the running game. Compounding that difficulty is the inability of the offensive line to dominate the line of scrimmage, get a push, and open lanes for running. Losing Reynolds was certainly a blow, but I’ve haven’t seen this type of ineffectiveness out of a BYU offensive line in some time.
Matt: Inefficiencies certainly abound and the blame is large enough to drop some in each reason you provided. However, I feel that it starts with Doman’s play-calling. Weak side option runs don’t work at BYU. They worked at Skyline when you were the man in the mid-90’s; they don’t work at BYU. Running Alisa to the edge doesn’t work. But you can’t blame it all on Doman. This offensive line is merely offensive. Run blocking is the simplest of tasks for an offensive lineman and the inability to open even the tiniest of running lanes is a shame to behold.
I don’t think the backs are entirely without blame, but I think they are talented and skilled enough to be very successful if the schemes improve and more importantly, the big guys up front improve.
Carl: A win obviously. Yet that’s not really what this game is about. I’ll be looking for other clues as to whether this wayward ship will be right. BYU faithful will be looking for 3 critical things that will give them relief. 1) Taysom Hill will start at quarterback. 2) If Hill starts, will the offense be crisp? 3) If the offense performs well with Hill, the psychological affects of a win prior to the 4-week gauntlet, will help Cougar fans with optimism going forward.
BYU- 34 Hawaii- 17
Matt: No doubt this is a blow out. The line as of now is 27.5 points and an over/under of 50.5. BYU will surprisingly cover this spread. The over/under will not get there though because I don’t believe Hawaii is capable of scoring against BYU. Since I’ll be writing my weekly preview in a few days I won’t spoil my keys here, but suffice it to say, I have BYU winning 37 – 3 this week.