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Anae Retooling the BYU Receiving Corps

25 March 2013 Brett Richins
Marcus Mathews celebrates a game-winning touchdown vs. USU in 2011. BYU PHOTO

Marcus Mathews celebrates a game-winning touchdown vs. USU in 2011. BYU PHOTO

As spring practice has unfolded over the past three weeks, BYU has been retooling its receiving corps to best execute Robert Anae’s new “go fast, go hard” offense.

The restructuring began with tight ends Austin Holt and Marcus Mathews moving to other positions. Holt (6-5, 250 Jr.) moved to defensive end before spring camp began, while Mathews has been moved from the inside to the outside during spring drills.

Holt suffered a major knee injury late in the 2011 season. He attempted to make a comeback last year, but was shut down after the fourth game of the season and finished with just two catches for 22 yards.

Austin was the best blocking and the most physical of the tight ends on the roster, and with the change in the way that BYU plans to employ its tight ends or “Y” receivers in the new offense, it became apparent to both him and the coaching staff that he might find more playing time on the other side of the ball.

Mathews’ move to outside receiver came as more of a surprise.

Marcus seemed like a good fit to play in the flexed-out tight end spot that will be the norm in the new offense. Last season, he added some 30 pounds in an attempt to play more of a role in Brandon Doman’s offense. However, sickness kept him from being able to contribute. Playing on the outside will allow him to drop some of the pounds and play at his more natural weight. It’s worth noting that although he has been moved outside, it’s still likely that he will line up on the inside in some sets.

Marcus has effectively changed positions with Brett Thomspon, who has been moved from the outside to the inside Y spot. Bronco Mendenhall indicated last week that Thompson has impressed coaches since making the change.

Brett made a contribution as a true freshman at wide receiver in 2009 before his mission, recording six receptions for 95 yards. Last season, most of his action came on special teams as he finished the year without a single catch. Thompson isn’t the fastest of the BYU wide receivers, but by moving him to tight end, his speed is accentuated by matching him up on linebackers and safeties instead of cornerbacks. And while Mathews has had to work put on weight, Thompson has had to be careful to not add too much mass while playing wide receiver.

Another potential change in the offense leaking out of spring camp is a rumor that tight end Richard Wilson may end up seeing some action in the BYU backfield. Could the junior be slated for more of a fullback or H-back role this fall? Wilson, regarded as the speediest of the BYU tight ends, tweeted out on Friday night after practice, “Never imagined I’d take a handoff from @T_Hill4 (Taysom Hill) haha.” Hill responded to Wilson with, “Haha heck yeah man. It looked and felt good too!”

While the tight end position has been playing musical chairs, Mitch Mathews–Marcus’ “little” brother– has been making his presence felt, and it looks like he may well find himself in the two-deep at wide receiver heading into summer workouts. In addition to his praise of Thompson, Mendenhall has also singled out Mitch for his performance this spring.

The younger Mathews is a towering wideout at 6-foot-6, and he’s an outstanding athlete to boot. He has the potential of creating some really bad match-ups for opposing defenses this year. He made a splash last season in fall camp and has carried that forward into the spring. He gained some experience last year as a true freshman, appearing in six games and catching two passes for 27 yards. He’s a good bet to make the two-deep on the outside this year and then step in for Cody Hoffman when he departs for the NFL after this season.

It will be interesting to see if the Matthews brothers get an opportunity to line up opposite one another at some point during the 2013 season.

Here’s a look at how the rotations are shaping up for the BYU receivers:

X Reciever

Cody Hoffman (6-4, 215 Sr.), Mitch Mathews (6-6, 213 So.), Dallin Cutler (5-9, 173

Z Reciever

Ross Apo (6-3, 207 Jr.), Marcus Mathews (6-4, 236 Jr.), Skyler Ridley (6-0, 192 Sr.)

H Receiver

J.D Falslev (5-8, 184 Sr.), Cody Raymond (5-9, 175 So.), Eric Thornton (5-9, 175 So.)

Y Receiver

Kaneakua Friel (6-5, 250 Sr.), Devin Mahina (6-6, 247 Jr.), Brett Thompson (6-3, 220 Jr.), Richard Wilson (6-3, 240 Sr.), Terren Houk (6-4, 213 So.)

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