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BYU Tight Ends Could be Difference Makers

24 November 2010 Brett Richins 12 Comments
BYU Tight End Austin Holt

BYU Tight End Austin Holt

The BYU Cougars could really benefit this Saturday from solid play out of their corps of young tight ends.

At a school that has churned out All-American caliber tight ends for decades, BYU has gotten very little production this season from their group of freshmen.

The one guy that looked like he might be rounding into shape, Marcus Mathews, was sidelined for the season a couple of weeks ago with a lacerated spleen.

Until last Saturday the tight ends had been conspicuously absent from the offense.

But in the 40-7 win over New Mexico they emerged somewhat from their season-long hibernation and accounted for four of Jake Heaps’ 18 completions for a total of 63 yards.

Devin Mahina caught two passes for 24 yards, while Mike Muehlmann and Austin Holt each had a reception for 22 and 17 yards respectively.

Mahina is probably the best bet to eventually become the main target for Jake Heaps at the position. His 6-6 frame, long arms and high level of athleticism should make Devin a dangerous weapon for the Cougars in the future, assuming he continues to develop. He has had at least one reception in the each of the last three games.

Muehlmann’s catch on Saturday was a thing of beauty as he stretched out to reel in the pass. He found a nice seam between two Lobo defenders and made a difficult catch. It was nice to see after watching Mike deal with some drops earlier in the year. He has now had a catch in three of the last four games.

Austin Holt meanwhile doubled his season output with his reception against the Lobos. Used mostly as a blocking tight end this year, Austin was flexed out into the slot for one of the few times when Heaps tossed him the 17-yard gainer.

The tight ends continuing to step up their play could well be a key for Jake Heaps, who will be taking his first snaps in this heated rivalry between BYU and Utah.

During his breakout streak over the past few weeks, the true freshman Heaps has been kept virtually untouched by his offensive line.

The Utes are expected to come with pressure and blitz their linebackers, safeties and corners in this game in an attempt to rattle Jake, and protect what has been a suspect secondary in recent weeks.

It will be important for the young Cougar tight ends to recognize the blitz and get to the vacated areas of the field, or cut short their routes, in order to help out their quarterback and make Utah pay.

They also need to be able to make plays when matched up with Utah’s linebackers and safeties. They will get a lot of man press coverage from Utes and they will need to use their there big bodies well verses one-on-one match ups against the safeties and create separation when covered by the linebackers.

If this group can produce at roughly the same level as they did last week, the BYU offense will be more effective in dealing with the pressure Utah is expected to bring.

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12 Comments »

  • Seasider said:

    I still don’t get what Wilson did to be in the doghouse. He’s the smallest of the bunch but very capable of being a playmaker in the passing game. I like Mahina’s upside and Muehlmann gets better the more he plays. The hard thing about this years group is that unlike the RB’s, they don’t really have any veteran leadership to help them along so it has taken them longer to mature on the field. I’m hoping they come ready to play on Saturday because we’re gonna need all the help we can get to win this one.

  • justin said:

    brett do you know anything about what is going on with richard wilson? he was a bright spot in the UW game…then he disappeared from games for a long stretch despite reports that he tore it up in practice and stays after with heaps…now he’s getting more PT, but is rarely in on passing downs.

    since no TE has really played super-well it seems odd that he’s kind of getting the shaft. any explanation?

    my “depth chart”…

    1. mahina
    2. holt (although he could move to OL or DL)
    2b. wilson
    4. muelmann (even though he’s made some nice catches the last few games the ceiling is much higher with the other 3)

    one more question…

    given the “revelation” that our coaching staff supposedly had in regards to “picking a starter” and “getting reps” with the whole QB debacle, wouldn’t the same hold true with the TE. just PICK ONE ALREADY!!! they all seem good enough but when splitting reps in practice and games and going from starter to the scout team in one week’s time, how are they going to develop any chemistry with jake and the OL like that?

    i personally would ask holt to move to OL or DE, and use mahina and wilson from here on out. i think if they would have picked 2/3 TE’s early on we wouldn’t be talking about a 4-man TE rotation going into the LAST week of the season. isn’t that a coaches job? to make tough decisions and pick a player?

    last question…any inside scoop on the supposed rumors circling on Scout.com and twitter about Fabu wanting to transfer? supposedly he did want to but has come around and is making strides and now wants to stay, but seeing his name come up on Oregon’s and TCU’s scout board is kind of disturbing. wishful thinking on their parts, or legit smoke?

    thanks…

  • Bob Henstra said:

    You guys need to get off this “reps” business, players are pushed to starter positions because of the position “competition” in practice, not the reps.

    Once a player is obviously well ahead of his competition, he “owns” his position, then and only then, does he get the most reps.

    So far, none of our TE’s has risen to the top, taken “ownership” of the position. They’re freshman, give them some time.

    In Spring practice next year every position will be open, Bronco says even at QB. In the Spring, no one will have ownership! Thats how great players are made, they’re pushed to position mastery and greatness by competition, not just reps, it he who makes the most of his reps!

    Some here seem to want the coaches to play favorites, “he’s my boy” the rest of you can sit on the side lines–

    Not at BYU, you want to start you have to prove, demonstrate, your better than the next guy, at any position!

    Bob

  • Kyle M said:

    Maybe we’ll find out who the top 2 are after spring ball, but for now, we’ve got four decent tight ends with limited receptions and game-day experience. All of them have the potential to be great, but picking a couple and betting on them seems like it should be a preseason (or, at most, an early-season) decision.

    The competitive advantages that experience brings aren’t meant to be advantages for a starter TE over the other TEs–they’re advantages over opposing defenses. When a TE who’s getting a quarter of the playing time is going up against defenders who are getting all the playing time, guess who’s going to win that matchup?

  • WaybackCougar said:

    I agree with Bob. If the tight ends need more reps, stay after practice or spend time with the jugs machine. Catching the ball has been their biggest problem this year. To improve on that you do what Ben Cahoon does — go out and practice catching hundreds of ‘em! When somebody is willing to outwork the rest of them he’ll emerge.

  • WaybackCougar said:

    P.S. Somebody catches a few in practice and word gets out that he’s tearing it up. Our coaches aren’t stupid. If Wilson really had separated himself in practice he’d be catching them in games.

  • Scott said:

    IMO Muehlmann needs to be switched to DE. He played there in HS and tore it up! He was a monster at times, better than he was a TE. I think Holt has the best upside, followed by Mahina. We just need to trust the same coaches that praised Pitta after his second spring with BYU; we all know how that ended up. When a leader shows himself in games.

    I heard that Wilson is in the doghouse because the coaches really want him at LB but he won’t go. So they are trying to show him that if he does it his way he doesn’t play. Not sure I agree, but again it is time to trust the coaches on the field not the ones on the couch.

  • Ben Simon said:

    What happens when Keneauka (sp?) Friel comes back from his mission next year and there is an even bigger logjam at TE? Some people need to switch positions. Also, a dominant Tight end needs step up next year. This 5 man rotation doesn’t work, one guy makes a catch then they don’t see the field the rest of the game. I think Mahina needs to be the featured guy and maybe one other guy to be the sidekick ala Pitta and George, Harline and Coats, and Lewis and Mili.

  • Seasider said:

    The tight end situation next year will be interesting. What I think will happen is you’ll see a couple of guys changing positions and others taking a redshirt year. I’m guessing they’ll try to narrow it down to 3 active TE’s who’ll see significant playing time every game.

    On Wilson I’ve heard the rumors of coaches wanting him to switch but a couple of things don’t make sense. When he signed with BYU, he was sent to play LB which he was through Spring and Fall camp up until just before the start of the 2009 season when he was suddenly moved to be a redshirt TE. If the coaches really want him to play LB then why didn’t they just keep him there in the first place? The LB dept also faces a similar logjam next season which makes even less sense to throw Wilson into that mix but what do I know? If it were up to me, I’d make Wilson trim down and move him and Marcus Matthews to WR.

    On a side note, Chad Lewis did a nice interview on KFAN yesterday and talked about current TE’s. He was very high on Mahina and Holt.

    http://1320kfan.com/index.php/audio/listen/former_cougar_chad_lewis_on_powerhouse

  • justin said:

    i like the wilson to WR idea. in a sort of chambers role.

  • kiyoshige said:

    i hope nobody takes the “old” chambers role (and I was a big fan when he was on the team). i hope chambers takes a new role.

    we have to be patient with the tight end position. it’s just young and we’ve been spoiled. for now, by committee (as with running back) is the best we could have hoped for this year. they’re starting to make the catches – they have to do all of the other things, block, be an outlet on the blitz, etc.

    bob, i don’t understand why more reps in practice are not advantageous to a player. i mean, with the nuances of cutting a route short, taking the right “stem”, etc., there is no way a TE gets on the same sheet of music with the QB unless they are in there for dozens, even hundreds of snaps.

    take George’s winning TD last year. Hall even said that earlier in the game they missed it and they would go back to it again later. they hit it for the game winner and i don’t think just “any” QB-TE combo could have done that. it was senior QB to senior TE and they had run that play probably hundreds of times and it paid off.

  • Brett Richins said:

    Justin,

    Wilson needs to show the coaches in practice that he wants to be the guy at TE. He has the rep of shying away from contact, which isn’t a good thing for a position that needs to make a living catching passes over the middle. I think you will see the Cougars get down to two primary TE’s this spring. I believe Tayo will be staying in Provo.

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