TBS Exclusive Part II: Todd Watkins Report

Off-season workouts have been an eye-opening experience for BYU players on the offensive side of the ball. The conditioning sessions are their first experience with Coach Mendenhall's fanatical effort approach. All-MWC receiver Todd Watkins gave TBS an insider's take on how the Cougar offense is reacting to the new workouts and the new offense.

Following a rigorous day of voluntary workouts, Todd Watkins stayed a bit longer with quarterback John Beck and Zac Collie to work on some personal refinement. As players fought for breath in the thin Wasatch air, Watkins chatted about offensive early developments, the new work out program, team attitude and coach Mendenhall as the team's new commander in chief.

"It took me fifteen minutes just to cool down after our workouts," Watkins said after catching a few extra passes from quarterback John Beck following another rigorous workout.

Along with conditioning as a team, many within the offensive unit are currently learning the basics of the offense coach Robert Anae and coach Lance Reynolds are bringing back home to BYU.

"Man, I watch those old BYU games that come on like on the BYU channel like on Saturdays or something. Man, guys like McMahan, Steve Young and Robbie Bosco throwing the ball around the field at will," said Watkins. "I mean those guys passed all over those defenses.

"In this offense I don't see how you can cover everyone. We have so many guys going in different directions, you just can't cover everyone. You may be able to cover most of us for a time but there will always be someone open. It's just up to the O-line to give the quarterbacks time to make their reads and hit the right person. If we can do then there is no way a defense can cover everyone in this offense because there will always be someone getting open down field or over the middle or out of the backfield."

Like the rest of his offensive teammates, Watkins has been going through the new terminology and plays as they continue to learn little by little on their own in preparation for spring practice.

"It's going good," said Watkins. "The offense is faster paced than before. We've got guys flying around out there in all directions. The thing about this offense is I think it's more simplified than before. Like you have the "X" receivers on this side and the "Z" over there on that side. We haven't learned everything yet only the basics right now but I think this offense is going to be really good."

Not only has the offense become more simplified in terms of terminology, it will also become more adept at keeping the defensive opponents guessing about who to focus on.

"The thing about this offense is there isn't just two main weapons like the quarterbacks just throwing to the receivers," explained Watkins. "In this new offense we're going to have multiple weapons that we can use. It takes a lot of the pressure off of some of us because now we are going to have the running backs and tight ends just as involved as we were. We've got some athletes on this team that we can us to distribute the ball around with and use to move this offense down field."

One person who was an intricate part of last year's offense was freshman sensation Austin Collie. Collie is now serving a full time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"We'll miss Austin for sure because he was a big part of this offense, but we've got some guys coming in that no body really knows anything about that will play a big part in helping the receivers get the job done. We've got Morris, Reid and Griffin coming in. We've got Saia (Hafoka) and Bryce (Mahuika) coming up and they can all play and no one really knows what these guys can do. Even though Austin's gone I think we'll be really good with these guys stepping in no one really knows about.

"Everybody will be good. Our quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, tight ends and our O-line have all improved over the year. We're just going through mostly skele drills now and conditioning but you can definitely see the changes. Just in the attitudes of the players alone is a lot different."

Having been grafted into the Mendenhall's defensive mind set and effort philosophy, the offensive unit has gained respect for their defensive counterparts. Most now know each other as teammates rather than someone on the other side of the ball.

"Man, there are guys that I didn't really know or know their names. I know who these guys are now," laughed Watkins. "Before I didn't really know all the defensive guys, but now I know who these guys are because we've had to go through the same things together, it's brought us all closer together."

Watkins echoes much of the same thoughts expressed by his teammate Cameron Jensen in a another TBS exclusive article.

"It's a lot different than it has been," said Watkins. "Coach Mendenhall expects nothing less from us. You can see those who are putting in 110% day in and day out and those who aren't. The system will weed you out and take care of those that don't want to put in the effort to reach the bar that he's set. Just a few weeks ago we had guys quit the team. You can see the guys who are going to do what it takes to make it and those are not putting their all into by how they perform, and it's those guys that probably wont be around. Before guys kind of got favored because they were on scholarship and would slack off and not do things knowing they were the starters. While the walk-ons or two deep guys where afraid to make mistakes and busting their butts out on the field. Now everyone is held to the same accountability and it shows by how much everyone is making an effort. There's one standard now and everyone is held to the same standard and is held accountable in everything we do."

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