Heaps pleased with first week

The Cougars are about to begin their second week of spring camp, and the offense appears to be head and shoulders above where it was at during this point in time last year. In fact, sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps is very pleased with the progress of the offense under the new-look coaching staff.

There's been quite a big difference in the performance of the offense at the beginning of spring camp in comparison to last spring. The offense is humming along quite well. But the surprising thing about that is the offense is still relatively young, and some starters haven't even played yet this spring.

Jake Heaps noted that they "have a young offensive line playing right now. We don't have our offensive starters in there right now, well, except for Braden [Brown]. The way our offense has been going, our early success is a big-time compliment to how they've been playing."

At this time last year, the offense was bogged down in a multi-system offense designed to fit two different quarterbacks. Offensive linemen were shifting around from left to right based on which quarterback was in, and were also trying to establish a starter at center. Those days are long gone.

"It's been fun and really unbelievable to see how far we've come along in comparison to last year," Heaps said. "Last year we were fighting to see who was going to be the starting quarterback and trying to see what kind of offense we were going to have. It was really hard on our group. We were trying to figure out our center and fumbling snaps and stuff. It was just a mess. We are now just so much together and our chemistry is great and it feels good."

Heaps credited the offense's improved chemistry in part to the reworked coaching staff.

"We have a great coaching staff now put in place," Heaps said. "They're full of energy and are great coaches who are just getting our guys better and better and better. It's amazing to see. We've just had four days of practice and we continue to get better and better every single day. It's a big accomplishment and a big compliment to our coaches. It's been really fun to see our group come together like they have and it's been intense. It's kind of fun to come out here and see what our offense is about and our team is about. The way we are hitting each other and the level of competition, I love it. It just shows what kind of a team we're going to have."

One of BYU's new coaches is wide receiver coach Ben Cahoon, and Heaps had a lot of positive things to say about him.

"Well, Coach Cahoon has done a great job so far," said Heaps. "He's done a great job with our receivers and they really respect him. They love him to death and he's out there with his cleats on running around and showing them what to do. I mean, it's been fun and he has a great personality. It's been a lot of fun just working with him. If I have a question for him I'll go and ask him, and if he has a question for me he'll come and ask me. It's a great relationship and it's growing with the wide receivers, and it's fun and they're getting better and better every day."

Heaps is also excited about his position coach's promotion to offensive coordinator.

"It's been awesome and I came here because of Coach Doman," said Heaps. "He's recruited me for three years and we've been through some things together, and our relationship has grown and our chemistry has grown stronger. To have a guy like that now become your play-caller is going to make your offense better when your OC and your QB coach are the same guy. It just helps make everything go smoother. It's been really fun having him here and working underneath him. He's pushed me to be better every day, and he's going to lead me to my potential and beyond that. I have all the faith in him."

Mostly, spring camp is a time in which coaches develop players while trying to figure out who their playmakers are. This spring camp feels a bit different, and the sifting process doesn't seem to be in place as it has been in past spring camp sessions.

"I think we have a good idea of who our playmakers are going to be," Heaps said. "I mean, obviously we still have guys that are making plays left and right. J.D. Falslev has had three big plays three days in a row. We have guys out here making plays. We've got Ross [Apo] out here making plays, and it's a lot of fun. I mean, our playmakers are pretty much established and now it's about getting better, and getting our offense established to see where it's going to go. We're just really figuring it out and I'm really excited. The way we are practicing, I just can't wait to see where we're going to be at by the end of spring."

Yet, there is something different about this spring camp. For one thing, last Wednesday's practice, which was scheduled to be open to the media, ended up being closed to public viewing. In the past that's been because the coaches were installing new things within the offense. However, isn't that what fall camp is for? This spring camp looks and feels a lot like fall.

"Yeah, I think we have that attitude," Heaps said. "I think guys want to get out here and get better. We're not going to wait ‘til fall camp for that to happen and just go through the motions here. It's getting better right now and we want it really bad. The expectations have risen and so has our play. We need to start playing up to our potential and start expecting more out of each other. It's just been a blast being out here with the coaches with that attitude and intensity, wanting to be better. It's night and day in comparison to last year."

As for Heaps' pass-catching targets, one "newcomer" to the receiver fold is Ross Apo, who was on the team last year but ended up redshirting. Heaps hooked up with Apo for a 59-yard bomb last Friday in what was a glimpse of things to come.

"You just look at him and you can tell he's a big-body dude with big hands and long arms," Heaps said of Apo. "He's fast and a big down-the-field threat. He's got an unbelievable drive and he's one of those guys where if I'm not calling him, he's in here calling me wanting to work out and watch film. You have to love that in a receiver. It's been a lot of fun watching these guys."

So with week one of spring camp finished and week two about to begin, there has been a lot of early progress. When asked to name one specific highlight about the team's progress over last past week, Heaps gave three.

"I think the first highlight of the week is the new coaching staff," said Heaps. "You can just tell everybody has more chemistry together and is excited and having fun. It stems from Coach Weber to Coach Reynolds. You see Reynolds up screaming and yelling, and not that he wasn't coaching the guys before, but he's really getting after the guys. He's coaching them up and getting them right. Coach DuPaix demands a lot out of our running backs and is a high-energy guy, and then you have Coach Doman and Coach Cahoon. These guys are just fun to work with."

"The second thing I would say that was a highlight of this past week was our offense. These guys just want it really bad and we're going to work hard to get it. I love this offense and I love where we are at right now. It's night and day. We're going to get there and we'll be where we want to be come September 3rd. I'm looking forward to it.

"Then the last thing I would say is just our team as a whole. At BYU we've had some great players. Our team has been based on will, heart and execution and playing better than the guys across from you. Now we have the talent. All around we have depth and we have everything you could ever want in a football team, and now we can build upon the foundation that Bronco's had here. We have the talent to take it to the next level. It's in our hands and it's up to us to fulfill that destiny and that's the way we want it. It's up to us and it's exciting.

"I'm excited about our defense and they look great. We have some great athletes out there running around everywhere, so the defense is looking great and they're fast and athletic. I'm proud of our offense in the way we've performed over this past week. It's not easy for a young offensive line to do what they've done against these guy, but they're doing one heck of a job and I'm proud of our offense and the way we've performed overall the first week of spring."

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