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A Change for the BYU Offense

9 August 2010 Brett Richins 10 Comments
McKay Jacobson (2009 Las Vegas Bowl)

McKay Jacobson (2009 Las Vegas Bowl)

2010 marks the return of the wide receiver for the Cougars.

The BYU offense will look a little different this season. Expect to see more receivers on the field and fewer double tight end sets.

BYU is well known for employing its talented tight ends with great effectiveness, but this year the combination of inexperience at tight end and depth and talent at wide receiver will necessitate a change in the way the Cougars approach things.

As usual, there is talent galore at tight end, but there isn’t a single tight end on the roster that has played so much as one snap in a Division-1 college football game.

Luckily for the Cougars the wide receiving corps is here to save the day, led by McKay Jacobson and O’Neill Chambers. Both of them went through their own physical and mental metamorphosis this offseason and both of them have returned this fall committed to taking their games to the next level.

The Cougars will also change the way they use Jacobson, employing him more as an inside receiver and looking to create mismatches with him in the slot.

By moving the speedy and sure-handed McKay to the inside, the offensive brain trust at BYU can create situations where he will be covered by safeties and, on occasion, linebackers. Advantage Jacobson.

Chambers has entered fall camp looking like he is in the best shape of his life. He has been working this summer on utilizing the size and strength advantages he has on most cornerbacks.

O’Neill was singled out by the BYU entourage at Mountain West Conference Media Day as one of the players on the team that has most improved his effort and commitment during the offseason. Despite dropping a key pass in practice today, one gets the feeling that Chambers is set to have an excellent year.

The Cougars also return experience in the form of Luke Ashworth and Spencer Hafoka. Ashworth is not a particularly explosive player, but he is a solid route runner with good size and sticky hands.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on Hafoka this season. He has been slowed with health issues during his career, but he has the ability to be a valuable asset on the field. Spencer also brings some ability to stretch the defense vertically.

If the Cougars really want to get serious about going vertical, they can turn to freshman Ross Apo.

Although the opportunity to show what he can do has been limited so far in fall camp, Ross is an incredible talent with an unusual package of size, speed, soft hands, long arms and the ability to leap over a building with a single bound (that last part is a bit of an exaggeration). It will be interesting to see how Apo works his way into the rotation as camp progresses.

Apo’s biggest obstacle is that his competition in high school was mediocre at best, so he may struggle some with the adjustment to college. That said, it shouldn’t take too much adjustment for the 6’4″ true freshman to just line up on the outside and streak down the field on some poor, unsuspecting 5′ 10″ cornerback.

One cannot help but think about the possibility of Jacobson, Chambers and Apo at receiver, with Devin Mahina at tight end and JJ Di Luigi coming out of the backfield. Did someone say something about rebuilding this year?

The question that needs to be asked is which BYU trigger man is best suited to get the ball to this group of receivers. We’ll try to answer that question in out next segment.

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10 Comments »

  • Ryan F said:

    Exciting times. It seems that if the wide receivers are the real offensive threat we have, that starting Heaps is the best option. If he can stretch the field, cornerbacks will be hesitant to bite, opening up a lot of close stuff.

    Mmmm, comfy armchair.

    Look forward to the next segment.

  • Drakos said:

    I love Chambers and his size and physicality and he seems to have good hands when it comes to catching the ball. I hope he doesn’t have some of the fumble issues he has had in the past. Looking forward to seeing what these guys can do!

  • kiyoshige said:

    Brett,
    You’re doing a great job and a SINCERE THANK YOU, BUUUUUUUTTT…

    I miss Gooch. Any former players around to contribute this year?

    Ki

  • Casey Adams said:

    It is funny, when Anae got here he had to adjust his offense to accomodate the talent at TE and RB. That forced him away from his comfort zone of multi-wr sets. Now, we have the multiple WRs and I think he is going to have his QB ready to go. Frankly, I think the WR talent is a great argument in favor of Nelson. If you have a running QB who can make some of the throws and knows the offense, getting the defense away from the middle of the offense is the way to go. Spreading the field horizonally with wide splits and lots of wide outs can open running lanes and throwing lanes. I think our team is well set up going into fall camp for us to be successful with Nelson. All the better if Heaps or one of the rms beats him out.

  • Aaron said:

    You could also say the receivers stretch the field, opening it up for Nelson to run. I think we’re good either way.

  • detmer14 www.realfansstand.com said:

    I think Chambers has come a long way since his freshman year. Remember how entitled he felt. Great to hear that he has matured and is committed to the team. I think he has great talent, and now being more focused – should be able to contribute even more. Thought he did a good job last season. I can’t wait to see the Jacobson we thought we would see last season. As for Tight Ends, it’s a toss up. Plenty of talent, not much experience at all. I guess we won’t really know how good they look till they come out of Fall Camp. Anae says they have just as much talent as Pitta and George (Muelmann and Mahina) when they first started. So now it’s just execution that needs to be improved.

    JJ is definitely looking like the person we thought he would be 2 years ago. Sure hope it’s a breakout season for him as well. There is potential for it to be a great season, yet we have so many things hinging on if people can learn the playbook and execute. We’re bound to have slip ups, but hopefully with all this talent, we can overcome those slip ups. Knock on wood that we don’t have many turnovers (fumbles, INTs, etc).

  • J 2 said:

    Bring out the 5 receiver sets! Throw the defense for a loop, especially at the beginning of the season. It’s a pipe dream, because the team will be who they are and have been for the past 5 years and they will replace those starters and leave the offense the same. Cynical I know, but it would be nice to get more of a wrinkle in the offense here and there.

  • gary said:

    I guess I see our wide receivers as not the major strength. If they are I think we could have a long season. Chambers is okay but not fast enough to get open. He also drops too many passes. I’m anxious for the games to start. Hopefully we’ll do okay. I’m for Nelson starting.
    Gary

  • Blue Blooded said:

    Brett said: “The question that needs to be asked is which BYU trigger man is best suited to get the ball to this group of receivers.”

    So someone mentioned above that the receivers would stretch the field vertical so Nelson could run the ball which makes us good either way.

    WHHAAAAT?!?!…I’d rather get the ball into the hands of those receivers!

    Our talented receiver core and mature O-line both SCREAM for Jake Heaps to be the signal caller. Nelson barely throws the ball when compared to Heaps.

    Brett, I’m very excited for your take on this. For me, it’s no contest, even though he did just turn 19 in June.

  • Josh said:

    I’ve been thinking about how to get the best 11 players on the field on offense, and one concern I have is with K wilson at tight end. He’s only 6′ 2″ but was a top recruit because of his athleticism. I think I read that he’s in the 230’s for his weight. Not likely to start ahead of 6′ 5″ and 6′ 6″ tight ends. But with his wheels, hands, and agility he needs to be utilized. Aren’t we in need of a Fullback? He has the height/weight, the speed, and as a TE must have some skill when it comes to blocking. Imagine that guy being covered by a middle linebacker on a pass play. Theres no way a defense can consistantly cover our current recievers, Te’s, RB’s, and him as a Fullback. I hope someone considers this as we don’t have an established FB and he could be perfect.

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