Spring Report: Developing wide open wide-outs

A lot of eyebrows were raised and obvious questions asked when Todd Bradford, a 16-year defensive coach and coordinator, was recently named BYU's new wide receiver coach.

Like head coach Gary Crowton's other addition of Bronco Mendenhall as his new defensive coordinator, Bradford has quickly gained the respect, support and trust of his young charges.

Bradford's unique defensive knowledge and perspective has become one of the training weapons he has used to impart tips and techniques to his receiver corps.

Commenting on the transition, Bradford said: "It's been a lot of fun. I've learned a lot in the short time and I think the kids have as well.

"We really concentrate on attacking the defensive backs, technique and attacking the coverage with routes we want to run -- based on recognizing the coverages early and recognizing their techniques early. I think we've done a good job of that."

"To be honest with you, I can't tell who the guys are that are walk-ons and who the guys are that are on scholarship. We have 13 wide-outs that come to practice and we are trying to get them all ready. Then we will start making decisions about who we think is ready to start."

Bristol Olomua, a highly anticipated redshirt sophomore receiver, said of Bradford: "He's a really good coach. We just try to follow him and improve on our technique. He's good."

Blessed with a combination of speed in some and sure hands in others, BYU's offensive game plan appears likely to become a top national force again this fall -- if everything falls in place.

With the final spring practice tomorrow morning and as they prepare for Saturday's Blue & White game, they are confident they will be ready this fall, even as they recognize they have much to do before the nationally televised Georgia Tech game.

One of the most surprising stories this spring has been Matt Smith, a 6' 2", 185 pound, no-name recruit who has definitely made a name for himself.

A first team All-State receiver from Hellgate High School in Missoula, Montana, Smith said "I was recruited by Concordia, Montana State, Montana, Carroll College and I talked to a few others, but no one really big."

One of six children, Smith returned from a LDS mission last year to Angeles, Philippines, and decided to pay his way, determined to earn a football scholarship the hard way.

He survived last year's walk-on cuts and quickly caught the eye of fellow players and coaches.

Smith spoke of his new receiver coach and the distinct advantages he has brought to the team.

"Coach Bradford has coached defenses for so long that he gives us a perspective of what the defense is doing so when we run our routes we know what the defense is thinking.

"Whereas before it was just all on paper kind of a thing. When we run our routes and watch it on film, he is showing and telling us what they are thinking and what they are going to do. Then shows us how to read that and overcome it."

Bradford confirmed Smiths comments: "There's no question about that. We talk about that all the time in every film session and every practice session. I'm trying to help them to understand what the DB is going to try and do, and then what the defensive back doesn't want them to do. Then get the receivers into a position to overcome that."

"We're looking for different tips the DB is going to do with their feet, their hands, with their hips, and their shoulders. That's going to tell them (receivers) what they're trying to defend, and then that's going to tell us what technique we want to use to attack them," Bradford noted.

Smith noted, "I played quarterback through high school until my senior year. It takes awhile to learn a lot, but there is a lot of stuff about receivers that's tough to learn."

"There was a lot more stuff I had to learn about being a receiver. You've got to learn about rout running, making good on your cuts. Being a good athlete doesn't mean you'll be good in college."

During Wednesday's short scrimmage, Smith made a nice 20-yard catch on a pass from quarterback John Beck and turned it upfield for a touchdown. He also caught balls from quarterbacks Matt Berry and Todd Mortensen throughout today's scrimmage.

"Everyday, we are just trying to get better. When the defense steps it up, then the offense has to step it up. We are all trying to improve as a team and become more disciplined and more synchronized. We still have a long ways to go to be ready by fall, but we're getting a lot better. We're looking a lot better than when we started spring ball," Smith added.

Copyright © 2003 TotalBlueSports.com

Total Blue Sports Top Stories