Every day is game day

Exactly a week from now the Cougars of BYU will be hosting the Cougars of Washington State in the 2012 season opener. So what kind of an offense will Washington State see when Riley Nelson steps behind the center?

Second-year offensive coordinator Brandon Doman knows exactly what kind of an offense he wants. It's an offense that stems from a foundation first established at BYU back in the early 1970s.

"It is not a spread, prolific throw-every-down passing offense," said Coach Doman. "It is a very efficient, progression-style offense that requires a smart quarterback that requires a lot of volume for that guy. It stems from the west coast offense. It stems from Doug Scovil and Bill Walsh from back in the days."

However, BYU's offense won't just be a drop-back passing game where the quarterback looks to go through a series of progressive reads. There will be a wider range of quarterback movements designed to help open up the passing game.

"I went back and watched BYU play the Miami game with Ty Detmer," said Coach Doman. "BYU ran 10 [naked bootlegs] and I thought, ‘Why are they doing that? Why wouldn't they make him drop back and throw?' Well, for a couple of reasons. Miami had really good defensive linemen, and if you make a quarterback drop straight back that many times vertically – and we've done that against TCU in the past – over time those guys start getting to the passer.

"So, there's got to be the threat of run and the ability to play action off of that and come out with bootlegs and nakeds and things eliminates the progression read. It makes the read easier for the quarterback as he comes out, and so we did that last year with Riley [Nelson] and haven't done that for eight years. It was the first time we had done that in a while and completed 76 percent of those throws, so we've got to find easy throws for him while we incorporate the drop-back pass game into the offense. When all of that comes together, that's a BYU offense."

Coach Doman has spent some time studying defenses, but when it comes to offensive development, he spends a majority of his time looking more inward than out.

"I'm always studying how to make it difficult for defensive coordinators to defend us," said Coach Doman. "But what is that? What is our identity and what is it that we're going to do that's innovative that puts defenses at a disadvantage? Defense is called based off of personnel and formation and then situation. Then they're going to try and stop the run no matter what.

"When you play against BYU, are you going to defend the run first or the pass first? TCU and Utah have gotten to where they try and defend the pass first and I don't blame them, but ultimately a defensive coordinator can't function unless he's still trying to figure out how to stop the run game. I would like those guys to think, ‘Gosh, I've got to stop the run but the passing formation they're lined up in is a passing threat right now.' If it's constantly like that, then now the cat and mouse game begins. If we line up in a particular formation where there is no tendency for run or pass, now what?"

Being able to better attack defenses with a wider range of options, while masking the offensive plays, is something Coach Doman feels he's learned to do much better.

"I think we have the ability to do a lot of things, but as an offensive coordinator, quite honestly, I just didn't do a good job of that," said Coach Doman. "Quite honestly, that's quite hard to do and I have a lot to learn to bring it all together with the staff, but at least I know what we want to create."

The Cougar offense has done a much better job of being less predictable over fall camp, both in the running game and passing game. The trick is to not tip your hand, while allowing the play action to work in your favor.

"The run game is a supplement to and enhances that, and if you're going to have a run game you have to have a play action, so whatever formation we line up in, there has to be a major threat that we're going to throw the football.

"Now if that's the case, then [defensive coordinators] have to decide how they're going to play defense. If I have to drop a safety down into the box to help defend against the run game, and if they do, then we need to attack them in the passing game. I'm not so sure we've done that quite like BYU used to do it. We've been close. But hopefully we can get to that in 2012."

An efficient BYU offensive scheme is difficult to defend as is. Add a new twist to the offense, and Coach Doman looks to up the ante.

"Then if you can move fast when a defense doesn't know what to call based on our formation and personnel? Now it really puts them at a disadvantage," said Coach Doman. "All that I just said there takes a ton of time and a ton of work to create and develop an offense. The best offensive coordinators find a way to do that. If we can do that then we'll be innovative and really difficult to defend."

"As you saw in our last bowl game, we're really good in the two-minute offense," said wide receiver Brett Thompson. "We can run the two-minute offense at any time, and when we do we want to catch defenses off-guard. If we're crisp in our two-minute, that's when we can catch defenses by surprise and have an even greater edge."

The Cougars have been running a faster paced offense in fall camp.

"I think it's just the amount of reps that we get as an offense that helps us get more work done for the amount of time that we have," said Thompson. "Going back to the receiver corps, you know, that's why we're so effective in our two-minute offense is we are able to sub in guys in and out quickly when guys are tired. Being able to do this is key and we're pretty good at it.

"Each day at practice we try and go out on the field with a specific mentality, and that mentality is reflected in our new motto ‘every day is game day.' Our mindset as an offense is to practice every day as if it were game day. The way you practice is the way you play."


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