The quick strike Cougar offense

During the Idaho game last weekend, quarterback Jake Heaps took snaps, quickly dropped back and released the ball accurately and on time. This quick, precise play methodically marched the Cougar offense down the field, and it's this type of offense that BYU fans could see more of in the future.

"It might have taken us a little longer than we would have liked, but, yeah, I think this is where we would like our offense to be," said Jake Heaps. "I think striking quickly and moving the offense quickly down the field puts a lot of pressure on defenses because they really don't know what you're going to do."

What fans saw during the Idaho game could be a sign of things to come.

"Yeah, I think we can expect to see more of that," said Heaps. "I'm really excited and I think our guys are excited about what we're trying to do. We're working to improve on how our offense works and the precision of it all, but we still have a lot more to improve on."

The development of the faster pace and quicker execution has come about through multiple factors.

"The run sets that we've fallen into this year through the process of time and simplifying have become really good for us because we can throw out of them well," Coach Doman said. "Most defenses are going to try and stop the run first, and so that has opened up some passing lanes for us to play down the field and do those quick strikes."

Secondly, there has been some simplification of the offense. Add to that Nelson's management of the tempo of the offense, and that has led to an offense moving down the field much faster.

"I think as our offense goes through this thing, it has gone more towards what our team strength has been," Heaps said. "You know, Riley is a great player and he's put a lot of pressure on defenses with his legs and with his style of passing. He's been able to break down plays and turn them into positive plays faster and that's really helped the team."

Sitting on the sidelines, Heaps has learned a few things from watching Nelson run and manage a faster paced offense.

"I think it was pretty evident to everybody that he was much more patient, poised and calm and was making better decisions on time," Doman said. "Then [on top of that] the ball was coming out more accurately. Even his balls downfield were coming out more accurately, and it's a matter of timing, decision making and accuracy.

"When you play football at this level, things change. The offense was a little bit new, the defense was a little bit new and some of the personnel was a little bit new. Man, early in the season everyone could see it and Jake knew it. There just wasn't good timing, there wasn't as sharp of decision making, the accuracy was off and it was costing us as an offense. And then I wasn't as good [as an offensive coordinator], and so it was a combination of a couple of things, so now we're just getting better."

"For myself, I'm more of a quick three-step or five-step drop style quarterback with a play action side to it," Heaps said. "It won't be a quick three step all the time, but there will be more of that mixed in there a lot more because it makes it tough on defenses and, as we've found, been more effective for us."

Coach Doman has also become a more effective offensive coordinator by better understanding his personnel and how to use them to set up plays.

"I have enough experience now with these two guys in five weeks now," Coach Doman said. "I didn't call plays for Jake last year and it certainly has taken me some time, but I have enough experience now to know what we can do with two different guys. I wasn't going to try and have [Heaps] do some of the things that Riley was doing all the time, and so there was time that was needed to develop that.

"We want to dictate and it is a chess match and cat and mouse game. Also, I was always behind the eight ball the first three, four or five games and feel like I have a better grasp now and not the guy that's always chasing. I'm sure there will be times where I feel like I'm chasing and I've felt that a lot this year, but I don't want to be chasing very often."

"We're getting into the right places at the right time, and on top of that Coach Doman is putting us into the right situations at the right time to put pressure on defenses," Heaps said. "What we're seeing now is how we're working in all of our stuff and trying to improve upon all those things we want to do. Being able to be precise and do it quickly by getting to the line of scrimmage quickly in a fast paced offense puts a lot of pressure on defenses. We're definitely working in all of our stuff and moving forward by adding that component into our offense."

Normally offenses will run around 60-65 plays an entire game. The goal for Coach Doman is to develop a rapid-fire offense that will get in more plays, leading to high-scoring outings and an exciting offense to watch.

"Yeah, I want us to get 80 plays in a game and that's hard to get to," Coach Doman said. "One thing that Riley was good at was tempo, and Jake's getting better with time, but it takes time. Riley was good at managing the tempo and getting the offense moving faster. He was in and out of the huddle faster, and he was at the line of scrimmage faster and everything for him processed faster. It put defenses in a little bit of a disadvantage just by how fast he processed things, and Jake's getting better at that."

Putting pressure on defenses and being unpredictable has always been the goal, and a faster tempo will pose a more difficult challenge for defenders.

"When you're able to play like that, it makes it harder for defenses to read you and get their keys," Heaps said. "It's harder for them to pick up what we're doing and I think it's exciting for our team to see where our offense is going. This has really been fun to see our offense click like this."

The results have been evident. The Cougar offense has seen an increase of yardage on first and second down, which has helped on third down.

"Our third down conversions have skyrocketed because of what we have been able to do on first and second downs, and that's been in any game such as TCU and those types of teams," Coach Doman said. "Gosh, we've led the nation in third down conversions in the last six weeks."

"I think our potential is endless," Heaps said. "An offense that is able to do that is also a lot of fun to watch and play in because it puts a lot of points on the board. It really is tough to stop and I think we're getting there. We're really excited to go out there against New Mexico State and show everybody what we've been working on in practice."

The Cougar offense is also developing and evolving in other ways. BYU fans will see more of this development in the New Mexico State game.

"We better score some points because [New Mexico State] can score some points on offense," Doman said. "So, we better score some on our side to have a chance to win this game, and they don't do a lot of different things than what we've been seeing over the past couple of weeks. I'm sure they'll try and do a lot of the things teams have tried to do to stop us. They're going to have to come try and stop it, and if they stop it they'll win this game. If they don't, then we'll get the win."

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