Spring recap: offense

Brandon Gurney recaps what happened this spring at every position on offense. There were a lot of positives coming out of this year's spring practice session. Fans should subsequently be very optimistic about the team this coming season.

Quarterback

Jake Heaps is the established starter these days at BYU and practiced this spring accordingly. He was steady and showed good progression throughout the practice session. Not many a practice session went by without him completing a long pass to Ross Apo, Cody Hoffman or McKay Jacobson, which is obviously both a good thing and an exciting thing.

Who helped themselves the most?

There were some question marks regarding Riley Nelson being able to retain the backup spot, given the new offensive system. It wasn't a system that catered to Nelson's strengths, yet he did very well in not only establishing himself as the best backup option, but also separating himself as such.

Both James Lark and Jason Munns saw good progression, but neither could come close to touching Nelson's consistency as a playmaker during practices. It's very important for any program to have a good backup who is capable of making plays, and BYU will have just that in Nelson.

Running Back

There wasn't much to be sorted out at the running back position, and spring just reestablished J.J. Di Luigi, Bryan Kariya and Joshua Quezada as the top three options. All players proved to be productive most practice sessions, with Quezada showing some noticeable extra burst in his movement and speed due to some weight loss in the offseason.

Drew Phillips got some good work and did look promising and capable when he had the ball in his hands. He didn't have the breakout spring practice session that a lot were anticipating, but he'll definitely have a chance to bid for a role this coming fall given what he did this spring.

Practice stalwarts such as David Foote and Ryan Folsom again had solid practice sessions and should both add good insurance to the two-deep options going forward.

Who helped themselves the most?

This one would have to go to Michael Alisa, who looked promising as an option at the fullback position. Zed Mendenhall is still the starter, but Alisa is capable of things Mendenhall isn't, such as running the ball off-tackle and receiving the football out of the backfield. He'll definitely be able to compete for the starting role at fullback given what he showed this spring.

Wide Receiver

The wideouts looked very good this spring. Cody Hoffman in particular looked more crisp and confident in his routes and looks to have a breakout year. McKay Jacobson was very solid throughout the practice session and should end out his career at BYU with perhaps his best season.

JD Falslev saw some very good reps and should be someone who regularly gets into games playing the slot receiver spot. Dalin Tollestrup was perhaps the most pleasant surprise, seeing a lot of work with the twos on offense and looking very capable. Matt Marshall could very well see some game time at the slot, while Rhen Brown should add some capable insurance behind the expected two-deep options.

Who helped themselves the most?

I'm going with Ross Apo here. There were tremendous expectations for him entering this spring practice session, and he met them. He proved very productive in most practice sessions and is clearly going to be a handle for any defense as a deep threat.

Hoffman and Apo will give the team two very physically imposing and capable wideout options that the team hasn't had since Todd Watkins and Austin Collie back in 2004. Jacobson perhaps stands to benefit the most by their collective play, as he'll be able to run against single coverage with Hoffman and Apo stretching the defense.

Tight End

It was a good spring practice all-around for the Cougar tight ends. They were a mess last year, but saw some consistency toward the end of last season, and that continued into the spring.

Devin Mahina caught the football much better than he has in the past and looks to be a mainstay in the lineup when the offense goes with a double-tight formation. Marcus Mathews will be the primary tight end used when the offense goes to wide-split formations with four receivers during passing situations. Mathews showed to be the best route runner and most capable pure receiving tight end of the bunch.

I'm still high on Richard Wilson and his prospects, and it was very unfortunate for him and the team that he missed the entire spring camp due to injury. It will be interesting to see where he fits in with the mix this coming fall.

Who helped themselves the most?

Austin Holt will enter the fall practice session as the first option at the position based on his play this spring. Given the tight formations being run, he was clearly the best option given his blocking abilities.

Holt also proved capable and reliable in receiving the football. He's clearly the best-rounded option at the position and should be all but a lock to see the most reps there this coming season as a result.

Offensive Line

The offensive line went without three of its starters from last year in Braden Hansen, Matt Reynolds and Terence Brown, who all sat out due to injury. They also went without one player who could be a viable candidate to start in Walter Kahaiali'i. You would think the offensive line play would be down significantly as a result, but you'd be wrong.

BYU was able to field a productive two-deep at offensive line, which was easily one of the most pleasant surprises for the offense this spring. The starting line during the practice session consisted of Braden Brown, Marco Thorson, Houston Reynolds, Manaaki Vaitai and Ryker Mathews. They looked like a start-quality offensive line to be certain, and all should see significant roles going forward.

Brown played as one would expect him to, while Thorson looked more aggressive and capable than he has at any time since he's been in the program. Vaitai looks good and capable coming off of his mission, and Mathews looked to be worthy of every bit of hype he received coming into the program as a true freshman.

Who helped themselves the most?

Houston Reynolds entered the practice session battling with Blair Tushaus for the starting center spot, but slowly siphoned away exclusive reps with the ones during the final weeks of practice. He looks to be the best option to start this coming year, along with his brother Matt, Braden Brown, Terence Brown and Braden Hansen.

I anticipate Coach Weber moving Terence Brown back over to guard, with Houston assuming the starting spot at center. Moving forward, there looks to be a lot of quality depth at every offensive line position, and this should prove to be one of the best offensive fronts BYU has ever fielded.

Kicker

Justin Sorensen was pretty much the only kicker who saw reps this spring, and looked decent during most practices. His length isn't what it was prior to his mission, and he'll look to regain that amazing length during the offseason. His accuracy was good despite two missed field goals in the spring game.

Log in to TBS on Wednesday to read my recap of the defensive side of the football.


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