The Go-To Guys

When BYU needed a big play last season, Jonny Harline and Curtis Brown were the preferred targets. Much of the preseason focus was on the tight end and running back spot. Halfway through the season, however, it is the Cougar wide receivers who are stepping up to make crucial third down conversions and clutch touchdown grabs.

"We've always been the go-to guys; we've always been there," said BYU receiver Matt Allen. "It just took a while for people to realize it I guess. We have four guys who are consistent play-makers on the outside, and fortunately, we've had the opportunity to make some plays this year. We hope to make more."

Due to the deserved hype gained during the 2005 season, defenses have game-planned throughout the 2006 season to stop the run and bottle up the inside routes where the Cougar tight ends typically roam. By doing so, defenses leave the outside in man coverage.

"Nobody is game-planning for us, and that's fine," said Allen, "We like it when teams leave us outside with single-coverage, we like it a lot. We're showing that we can beat a defense on the outside as well as up the middle. I know that John [Beck] feels the same."

Armed with a cannon for an arm, John Beck can sling deep outs on a frozen rope. The pass gets to the receiver so fast that opposing defensive have no time to come back to the ball. Beck is taking full advantage of the shortcomings in coverage on the outside.

"The receivers are doing a great job, which I knew they would," said Beck. "We have a lot of talented guys out there, and I have tons of confidence in them. Against Arizona we felt that our best mismatches were on the inside, so that's why we didn't throw a lot of balls outside to the receivers, but as the season has gone on the receivers have worked as hard as they did in the off-season where we developed some great timing on the routes. Our chemistry has developed very well and what they're doing now is a result of that hard work."

Fast-forward to the TCU game, which featured what many players feel were the best cover corners BYU faced since the Arizona game. Unlike the Arizona game, Beck attacked the outside, relying on the timing he had developed with his receivers and unparalleled combination of arm strength and accuracy.

"Against TCU we went against guys who really guarded the routes well, but our guys were there and just made plays," said Beck. "Bill Walsh once said that he wanted his offense to be so well in-synch that it looked just like a dance, that everything was in unison so no matter what the defense was doing out there that there was nothing they could do to stop it. That's what we're striving for."

Moving forward again to the San Diego State game, Beck was as close to flawless in his passing as one could hope. Among Beck's most impressive passes was his 29-yard touchdown strike to Zac Collie, which exemplified how precise the timing is between Beck and his receivers.

On the play, Collie was facing double-coverage and when Beck let the ball go, Collie was still running straight downfield. It looked like a recipe for disaster. Then, almost a full second after Beck released the ball, Collie made his break back to receive the perfectly placed pass.

"Me and Zac have been throwing patterns together for four years now," said Beck. "We were throwing together before our missions and then after our missions. Most quarterbacks are taught to throw it to their receivers just as they begin their breaks, but we cheated a bit. I threw it a good two steps before he broke his pattern, but that's just the timing we've developed. I've thrown 400-500 comebacks to that guy, and I just know what he's thinking and where he's going to be and he knows the same."

"The timing I think I have developed with John along with the others is at a perfect level," said Collie. "I mean right when we turn, the ball is there, which makes it impossible for anyone to defend it. It's all about timing developed through repetition, and we're there. It's there every time, and teams are going to have a tough time defending it."

So will the Cougar four-man rotation at wide receiver consisting of Matt Allen, Michael Reed, Zac Collie and McKay Jacobson be the unit opposing defenses start game-planning against in future games? Will opponents dare to scheme against BYU's outside receivers at the expense of giving the proven Cougar tight ends more room to breath in the middle of the field?

"If they do then I have just as much confidence in the guys in the middle," answered Beck, "Jonny Harline, Daniel Coats, Nathan Miekle, Curtis [Brown], Fui [Vakapuna], Manase [Tonga,] if defenses want to leave them open and cover the guys outside, then fine. I have just as much confidence in them. When you have the ability to get the ball to everyone equally as effectively, then it makes it almost impossible to defend. I think we've shown that we can get the ball to everyone successfully, and we're going to be a very difficult offense to stop. We have a lot of confidence right now in what we're doing."


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