Walk-ons Making an Impact on Offense

The new offense that Offensive Coordinator Robert Anae brings to the Cougars this season involves everybody on the football field. On any given play, any one of the five skill positions may receive the ball according to the reads that the quarterback makes of the opposing defense.

"This is the offense I wanted here and I think what you saw today in regards to throwing to a variety of players is what we'll have this season," noted Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall after one scrimmage in which the ball was distributed to more than 13 different receivers.

Zac Collie and Nathan Meikle, two former walk-ons, have both devoured the new offensive scheme as each look to thrive in the when the Cougars have the ball this coming season.

"Every time I go out there I know that a pass may be coming my way," said Collie. "I, of course, didn't play a lot last year, but when talking with the other guys they definitely didn't feel that way last year. This year we know that there is a good chance on every single play that we may be involved or have a pass thrown our way."

"I love it, it's seriously a dream come true for me to play in this system," said Meikle. "I feel it's a system that matches my skills perfectly at the HR slot position and so far I'm getting some passes thrown my way and I'm just looking to do my best within the system."

While Meikle looks to split time with Bryce Mahuika at the HR position, Collie is battling for the open ZR position which is the position opposite established starter Todd Watkins. "I just want to play," said Collie. "I didn't get a chance last year and I just want to be part of the offense this year. My goal is to be part of the rotation and help the team in whatever way possible."

So far Coach Mendenhall has taken notice as just about every practice session this fall multiple receptions by Collie and Meikle has become commonplace.

"I don't know if I've seen Nathan Meikle drop a pass since spring practice," said Mendenhall. "Zac Collie is also someone who has shown consistent and has worked hard every day."

"Yeah, I feel that my consistency is one of my strengths," said Collie. "I'm not as flashy as my younger brother [Austin Collie], but I feel that I have good hands and that I catch most things thrown my way."

Collie has also worked hard losing a little bit of weight and increasing his speed this past off-season. His speed came to light on two particular scrimmage plays of note. First, Collie took the ball to the end zone on a simple wide receiver screen and second when he beat the coverage downfield for an 86-yard touchdown pass.

"I've been working on increasing my speed," said Collie. "I know I'm not the fastest guy, but I just try to be good in all areas. I feel I have decent speed, that I run good routes and that I have great hands. So far it's working out."

Meanwhile, Meikle looks as if he has been playing the HR position for the past 10 years with his level of productivity and precision running underneath patterns from the slot. "I played running back for the past few years and most of the practices I spent running patterns out of the backfield with the scout team or whoever and I think it prepared me well for the position I'm now playing," noted Meikle.

In watching the HR position develop within the Cougar offense this spring one can readily see that Meikle's description is an apt one as the HR receiver spends just about all his time running underneath routes that come with short hitches and slants on most occasions. "Like I said, it's a perfect position for me," said Meikle.

Both Collie and Meikle are expecting big things from the Cougar offense, if not necessarily for themselves, this coming season. "We're going to be good," said Collie. "I know that everybody feels the same and we're confident. The sky really is the limit for this offense. We all know our roles and how we can contribute and it's exciting to be able to play within this system. I just hope to contribute in any way that I can."

Concluded Meikle: "Everybody is more sure about their roles this year. I think that may be the biggest difference. I think we're a lot more confident and sure in what we're doing out there as an offense. A lot of credit goes to Coach Higgins and to coach Anae. They're just great coaches who are putting together a great system. We're going to put up some points this year, that's for sure."

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