BYU Looking for a Few Good WR "Playmakers"

In evaluating BYU's impressive list of "verbal commits" so far, I wonder whether they will plug glaring holes in the Cougars offense this fall or not.

If BYU gave out 20 or 25 scholarship this year, we should figure some of them will be playmakers – as early as this fall. Others may need to be in the system for a year or go on LDS missions. In the case of the latter, their on-the-field productivity is an investment for the future.

If BYU got 5-10 playmakers this fall from these 20-25 new recruits, that would probably be exceptional. For the sake of discussion, I'm thinking of "playmaker," with a small "p," as someone who makes a key play two or three times in a game; a play we didn't see last year. A "PLAYMAKER" in caps would be Luke Staley. Players like him don't come along that often.

Indeed, if the playmaker production happens this year among five new recruits, that's as many as 15 successful plays in one game that we did not see last season. If it happens among 10 new recruits, that's 30 plays in one game. It would be phenomenal, but also unrealistic.

There were too many "three and outs" or "six and outs" on offense last season because no one stepped up to make big plays: Either an offensive lineman or running back didn't block; the quarterback made the wrong read or took unnecessary chances that resulted in turnovers; or the wide receivers ran the wrong routes; or the ball was overthrown, underthrown or simply dropped.

The bottom line was one wheel or another fell off the wagon – and drive after drive was stopped time and time again. BYU fans are not used to seeing such non-production, and a lot of us got testy.

If our new group of recruits produce 10-15 "playmaker" plays this year that didn't happen last year, it's a whole different season. Several of our losses were by just a few points. Players making a few plays last year could have made a winning difference in several games.

When the quality of BYU wide receiver production increases like it should based on this recruiting class, there will be some obvious changes. For example:

* More passes are completed vertically beyond 20 to 30 yards.
* More passes are completed everywhere because the wide receivers get separation from their defensive counterparts and hold on to the ball.
* The "yards-after-catch" average increase substantially because BYU wide receivers suddenly are more elusive and strong enough to break tackles.

These "little things" are part of being a "playmaker" at WR. Sometimes, a 4.5/40 athlete is a better playmaker than a 4.4 guy because of the vision, football smarts, or strength. That makes it impossible for us to predict which wide receivers will step up.

There is synergy involved if new blood coming in makes great plays. A lot of players on offense last season may have been one year away from being productive and consistent at the Div. 1 level.

The speed and talent of the new wide receivers being recruited is intended to not only make plays, but also to stretch the defense out. They will make opposing defense's pay for stacking the box or blitzing without ever getting burned.

Brandon Doman and Luke Staley allowed BYU head coach Gary Crowton to be more creative in using open space with an extremely talented running back. The year before, they didn't do as well under a different scheme and a less experienced offensive line.

A spread offense is no good if you don't have wide receivers that can break free and catch.

When the coaches sat down to pore over game films with their bottles of Excedrin, Maalox, or whatever, it's apparent they decided to use at least half their available scholarships to address a glaring receiver deficiency they didn't think was fixable with the all receivers in the house.

The Cougars are lucky to have Bronco Mendenhall and his stingy defense. That may allow the new "playmakers" to work their way into the offensive lineup – and show us what other colleges missed out on.

Boise State was a good example of a team that made plays at key points and made us recall what it looked like for BYU to be in that high-flying offensive role.

If BYU's spread offense gets the ball to 8-10 receivers, tight ends or running backs in a game, that means that any most playmakers won't see the ball that often. And when he does come their way, they have got to produce.

I'd love to see kicker Matt Payne have to take up knitting on the sidelines because his punting wasn't needed that often.

If the BYU playmaker ratio is higher than 10 plays per game from these new recruits, the Cougars will start getting more and more competitive and it will help returning veterans step up. Any wagon that keeps its wheels rolls a lot further.

As we anxiously watch these new recruits with great expectations start making plays, the "playmaker" ratio will dramatically change the tone of the offense for the better.

It sure would be nice to have the other team's defense adjust to us for a change.

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