After hours in the film room pouring over game tape from last season, coaches know exactly where the offense needs to improve.
"When you review the film it's easy to see where we need to improve and what we've done well and the things we've done not so well," said Assistant Head Coach Lance Reynolds. "There were successful plays we had where we only had 60 or 70% of the offense executing properly and you evaluate what we could do if we even had 75 or 80% of the offense executing properly and work to improve that way."
"It's all about the little things," said Beck. "Just trying to improve every single facet and every little detail is how we're going about it. I've never heard of a team having a crappy spring practice and then having a good season. We need to improve every single day or we're not going to be the offensive unit that we can be, which would be a shame since we have so much potential."
Hitting the Ground Running
Last year brought in new offensive coordinator Robert Anae with his ambitious wide-open offensive scheme from Texas Tech. It is a scheme that has four receivers as its base with a single running back and wide splits for the offensive linemen. The offense was very new, and spring practice was devoted to learning the different aspects as well as possible in four weeks. This year, things are different.
"We know what we're doing," said Beck. "We did it all last year and we were successful last year doing it, so we're way further a long as a unit than we were last year."
"There's just so much more confidence in our system and in our kids running the system than a year ago having run it with some success last year," said Reynolds. "Our kids have shown to be a lot less fragile and much more resilient than they were a year ago so far. There's just a lot more trust in the players with the system and in the coaches this time around because last year we did it. We were a successful offensive unit last year in most areas. That's what being successful breeds and we just hope to now build upon that."
"I'm a lot more comfortable this spring, that's for sure and I know everyone else is as well," added Beck. "In every other spring practice I can remember my head just spinning with all the plays and different coverages I had to learn, but that's not so much the case this year. This year I'm a lot more comfortable and so is everyone else. We're not wondering what practice is going to be like and what we're going to do. We know what we have to do."
"His confidence is palpable," said Reynolds regarding what he is seeing from Beck this spring. "Just the strides he's made as a quarterback—the quarterback position is so important to have poise, confidence and control in everything you do and John has shown so much improvement in those areas with every game last year up to this spring practice."
The number one thing that jumps out regarding the argument for even better offensive execution this coming season is that the offense returns virtually in tact from a season ago. The Cougars on the offensive side of the ball have a wealth of experience heading into 2006.
"These guys know what they're doing for the most part relative to where they were last year," noted Reynolds. "There's really no comparison.
"Having just about everyone back from a year ago is huge. That continuity is so important for an offense. Take for example Jonny Harline last year. He'd never really played and was just trying to prove himself worthy of having a spot in the rotation. Now he's a guy who had success last year and he'll improve that much more because of it. Not only him but guys like Michael Reed, Zach Collie, Matt Allen, Daniel Coats, who has a ton of experience, and Nathan Meikle. We were a very young offense last year. None of us had much experience, and now we all do."
So how good can this offense be and how good to they aim to be?
"As good as we want to be," answered Beck. "We want to be an offense that can control any situation. If it's third and three, third and 10 or third and 15, it doesn't matter, we can convert it and we know we can convert it against anyone and in any situation. That's what we're aiming for. Sure, we did some good things last year, but that was only the beginning. We're going to get a lot better, we need to get a lot better and that's the attitude we're taking this spring."