It's no Holliday for Cougar receivers

He's tough and demanding, and that's exactly what the Cougar pass-catchers need. It's the second week of spring camp, and Coach Holliday is again working to get his players up to the standard he expects of them. So far, he's seeing very good progress.

Coach Holliday is rapidly becoming a fan-favorite when it comes to the new coaching hires at BYU. Much of that is born out of two things. One is what he brings to the table, and the other is his personal attachment to BYU and Provo.

"You know, I enjoy being here in Provo," said Holliday with a smile. "I love Provo and I'm really loving my experience here at BYU. I just want my guys to be successful. I just want to push my guys to the limits and be the best they can be. That's it. I just want my guys to go out there every day and make plays, to help them do just that, and that will help this program be successful. That's it."

During Monday's practice the receivers and quarterbacks underperformed somewhat, despite Ammon Olsen connecting with tight end Jordan Egbert for a touchdown. Some of that was due to poorly placed throws, as well as some passes that were simply dropped. In the fourth series of team period, Olsen had three incomplete passes and one dropped by Dallin Cutler. Still, Coach Holliday sees his receivers moving forward.

"I see us progressing. I mean, we worked hard but we didn't catch every ball, but overall we're progressing and making some plays," Coach Holliday said. "It's exciting. It's good to see them learn the game the way we want it to be played, and as we go they'll get better."

And therein lies some of the issues. The BYU coaches are dumping copious amounts of information into the players' heads and expecting them to, well, go hard and go fast. Right now it's about those two things. It's about giving maximum effort, and, much like with Coach Mendenhall, this happens to be the first pillar in Coach Holliday's formula for wide receiver excellence.

"I see those pillars coming, I do," said Coach Holliday. "The effort can't be questioned, which is where everything starts. With that, I'm pleased so far. Whenever you are an upperclassman running with the ones, I expect more effort out of you than in anybody else. It's like I always tell them, ‘If you're not giving them maximum effort, then the guy behind you is catching you.'"

Then comes the mental side of the game. Being mentally tough is a big part of Coach Holliday's second pillar. Finally, the third pillar involves fine-tuning and polishing.

"First you learn how to practice hard by giving maximum effort, then you develop that mental toughness that we expect of our players," Coach Holliday said. "Once you established that physical presence through maximum effort, then you pick up your assignments and that's when we can polish off the technique."

The result, at least in the mind of Coach Holliday, should be a core of six-to-eight guys with very little difference between them in terms of performance. It's easy to see why Coach Anae went after Holliday to get him to join his staff, simply because in order to develop a consistent group of receivers to, say, the level of Cody Hoffman for a fast-paced hockey-style rotation, you'll need that level of depth and talent development within the program.

"Yeah, in my history we've always played with six-to-eight guys to have ready to go," Holliday said. "You know, it's, ‘Next Cougar up, let's go!' No one player should be that far above anybody else. If we can develop depth where there's no drop-off, then we'll be successful."

To see a quick six-to-eight man rotation coming off the bench at any time would generate a lot of excitement. For BYU to have that level of developed talent would be unprecedented, but this is the goal. When you're playing at such a quick pace that you need six-to-eight guys, what does that say?

"Well, it says we're going to work hard to get them there," said Coach Holliday with a laugh. "You know, we try not to be selfish. I always tell the guys it's not how many balls you get thrown, it's what you do after you catch it. If you go two for 100, everybody is going to see a 50-yard average. Don't worry about catching 10 balls, let's worry about catching four or five and averaging 19 yards a catch and the NFL will love you. That's my philosophy."


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