I can't help but think about the Cougars uneven "glide path" back to winning. I imagine a jumbo 747 lifting off the runway and reaching 39,000 feet in a seemingly effortless enormous upward glide. However, human progress is often in spurts, fits and starts and plateaus, slipping back and lurching forward.
Anyone who enjoys watching a young kid ride a bike for the first time, get his first hit, catch his first fly ball, hit his first clutch shot, and having the savvy to take a charge in basketball, knows these spurts also instill confidence.
If John Beck was in the 110 range his freshman season last year in actual games and has now inched up to 140 in spring, that must have included a lot of spurts. He knows he can succeed, but he's in the process of taking the next step, to prove to himself, teammates and coaches that he can perform like a great BYU quarterback Cougar fans have now come to expect of their best signal callers.
This is all academic, come kick-off, when Beck must ultimately strut his stuff in the all-important court of public opinion.
Anyone else noticed that the high achievers in any field seem to be their own toughest critic? That's probably one of the things they need to balance the need to excel with the knowledge they cannot be perfect with every flick of the pigskin or swing of the bat.
One of the factors in these learning spurts is balancing "I must be perfect" self-driven demands with "Do not let the perfect ideal become the enemy of the good."
Every pass cannot fly 60 yards for a touchdown, but simple tosses of 5 or 10 yards must be consistently good enough for the receivers to adjust to. In other words, the quarterback has a very narrow window to hit on each throw, but that window is larger than a dime.
Sometimes, as all great NFL quarterbacks have shown, the best throw in coverage is out of bounds. Experienced NFL all-stars have learned from bitter experience not to force the ball into tight coverage. When they do, they often pay a stiff price and turn the ball over to opponents. The Cougars couldn't afford those gambles last year and yet they still made some.
As a young TV fan, it used to irritate me when quarterbacks could not see the open receiver I was staring at. However, replay cameras often showed the real deal: a defensive back is fast closing at full speed on an exposed quarterback and instantaneous read-and-react decision-making is an entirely different ball game.
Having said that, one of the hallmarks of great quarterbacks is their learned and innate ability to make those reads, recognize when someone is really open and make the best of 2-3 viable options consistently.
If the Cougar coaches, team and fans gain more confidence in Beck, it's partly because he's starting to make those reads and those throws. Plus, there's nothing wrong with tuck and run if the risk-reward ratio doesn't look too great.
In another interview, a BYU coach mentioned that JC transfer Jason Beck was the most accurate quarterback in spring camp, even if he rarely threw a spiral. That indicated to me that John Beck still needed to improve on his accuracy. On the other hand, a 140 quarterback rating – with the second-best accuracy among the QBs – means that he's due for another spurt, when his accuracy improves. Matt Berry must be excused for now because he's been rehabbing his injured hand through spring and summer workouts.
A 747 jumbo jet doesn't reach 39,000 feet in two minutes. I don't know how many tons a 747 with passengers and cargo weighs, but it still amazes me to see one take off.
Righting a complex passing offense like BYU's places great emphasis on a smart, quick-thinking, mobile and sometimes lucky quarterback.
One of the bright spots of Beck's 140 rating, which actually understates its meaning, is that he had a bunch of new receivers he was getting used to. If he can pull a 140 with so many new guys, guess where we'll be when he and they are finally on the same page? I hope it's much sooner in the season than later.
I suspect we're going to see many flashes of brilliance this year on offense.
There's nothing wrong with being optimistic, but it's important to remember Beck still hasn't practiced daily against all hard-charging defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs. It is inevitable his productivity will drop off while he adjusts to real warfare.
A critical part of gaining his "groove" with his receivers, tight ends and running backs is Beck knowing where they will be and what they can or cannot do, and then trusting what they will do when they break free.
It is about trust and confidence and Beck's 140 QB rating in spring hints at how that's going. I distinctly remember the first time my son drew a charge in a big basketball game – not to mention the other times he tried it and got called for blocking. Gradually, the number of called charges went up, and the blocking fouls went down.
The perfect should not become the enemy of the good.
Sometimes, winning ugly is beautiful. In fact, it's beautiful all the time. Who cares about style points if it yields a touchdown and a big fat "W?"
I've already learned one thing from Bronco Mendenhall: defense is beautiful. 3-and-out or 6-and-out is now music to my ears. Having opposing offensive lines with their heads on a turret is a beautiful visual in my mind. Bronco's defense is building trust and confidence also and made believers of the entire team and tens of thousands of Cougar fans.
Anyone else ready for opening kick-off against Notre Dame in primetime on ESPN?
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