The experiment is over

Last year, first-year offensive coordinator Brandon Doman was getting his feet wet as a play-caller. It was an adjustment period, but this year the Cougar offense should move into a new phase under Coach Doman.

Every offensive coordinator is different and seeks to put his own creative stamp on his offense, even making the offense in his own image. Last season, Coach Doman was learning how much of his ideal offense he could actually implement. Some things worked, while others things needed more time to develop.

"With the offense, I think, Coach Doman was saying last year was kind of an experimental year," said tight end Austin Holt. "We had quarterbacks going in and out and there were different things that we were doing, but I think he feels more settled on exactly what he wants to do. Now he's putting his name, his passion or the way his philosophy on offense should be. That has been more the focus over spring camp."

"Well, there was a growing period where we had to understand what we could do in comparison to what we wanted to do," said Coach Doman. "I think we've sorted out most of that and now we're focusing more on doing what we want to do instead of figuring out what we can do. A lot of spring camp is based on that concept."

As one who has faced Coach Doman's offense all spring, outside linebacker coach Kelly Poppinga has taken notice of some of the differences within the offensive development over spring camp.

"Oh yeah, I've seen it," said Coach Poppinga. "I think the offense now has more identity and they understand how Coach Doman is going to call things. I think they understand more their schemes and the whole purpose of ‘why.' It's more the ‘why' of everything now. I think it's a little different than what he initially wanted to do, going through those first couple of games last year. Now with what he's doing there is more of an identity, having gone through all that, and it's really good."

Over spring camp, there was a lot of focus on polishing up the various facets of the passing game. When you have an offensive coordinator who was groomed by the master of the passing game, Coach LaVell Edwards, it only makes sense.

"I think where we've advanced the most has been in our passing game," said Poppinga. "The focus has really been on getting our passing game better, which I think Riley [Nelson] has thrown the ball a lot better over spring camp. I also think there has been an improvement of the tempo of the offense and managing that tempo overall with the understanding of his scheme concepts."

It was clear from the get-go that there was something different in how things would be conducted over spring camp. Much of Coach Doman's offensive identity could be seen in the way spring camp was run, with the new position development drills that were installed.

"The practices are completely different than they were when I first came in here two years ago," said Holt. "Of course I can't do much [while I rehab], but I've seen the difference. I could see there were changes with the periods.

"There were different agility drills and things done more to reflect the type of offense he wants. The focus on the offense is completely different than it was over the past couple of years that I've been here. He readjusted spring camp to reflect that and all the injuries that occurred. I think we really made what we want to become more solid over spring camp."

Cougar fans will see more of that developed Coach Doman offensive philosophy ran at a faster pace. If there is one thing spring camp taught us, it's that the offense can move the ball very well against the defense during skeli and passing periods. When fall camp rolls around, Coach Doman will then have to put it all together in a more physical team setting.

"Things are a lot different now and this is, what, my third year here," said Holt. "Coach Doman now has a year of being the offensive coordinator under his belt and he knows what he wants to do. I think all these things will only make the offense much better. Having a solidified identity, tweaking practices to match that identity and an offensive coordinator you can love and respect will only make the offense that much better."

"We have a ton of talent, probably more talent on the team than we've had in a long time overall offensively, defensively and special teams," said Poppinga. "We've got the talent to run the type of offense Coach Doman wants, but the players have to be the ones that make it happen. If they do that, then they'll be very good. This could really be a special year, but they have to want it. If they work hard and develop within the parameters of what Coach Doman is doing, this it could be a special year."

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