Receivers Split For Competitive Learning

The receiver group has been asked to take on a greater role in learning the overall offense, with receivers being moved around to various positions. In order to further help facilitate the learning process, coaches came up with a competitive way of teaching and testing the receivers.

The Cougar receiving corps has been participating in an activity that hearkens back to the good ol' schoolyard days when kids pick players for their team prior to playing.

"It's about learning how to better understand and play within the various positions on any play," said Spencer Hafoka. "The coaches were like, 'Alright, we'll split up the receivers and have a little competition where players are picked to compete against each other.'"

Under the instruction of Coach Higgins, the only two senior receivers on the team were chosen as captains for a mock draft. Representing one team was Luke Ashworth, while B.J. Peterson was chosen to lead the other.

So who is on B.J. Peterson's team?

"We've got me, B.J. Peterson, McKay Jacobson and O'Neill Chambers," Hafoka proudly said. "Then we've got J.D. [Falslev] and Cody Hoffman."

Not to take a page out of Abbot and Costello's vaudeville comedy routine of "who's on first," but the question has to be asked: So, who's on Ashworth's team?

"I picked Ross Apo, Matt Marshall, D.J. Doman," said Ashworth. "Then I have Rhen Brown on my team also. We've been doing pretty good, but I think they might be leading us in points. We've got some work to do but I'm confident we'll make it up."

On paper, it appears Peterson's team might be a little stacked in the experience department.

"Well, we're a little loaded, but that's how we do it," said Hafoka. "B.J.'s smart, you know."

Well, it can be argued that if you're playing football for BYU, you're pretty smart to begin with. Peterson gave some insight into his strategy and why he picked the players he did.

"I knew it was going to be a plays battle between the two teams," said Peterson. "Usually what happens is it never comes down to you knowing your position, but everybody else's position like the running backs and tight ends. I play on the outside so I picked up J.D. and McKay because those guys know what's going on with the inside. So I got that on my side."

Once the Ashworth and Peterson teams were formed, the real fun began. The purpose was to place an emphasis on receivers understanding every route on any given play. It was a way to tackle those challenges in a fun and competitive atmosphere.

"We get the day's script and someone on our team will call out a person on their team to go up," said Cody Hoffman. "They have to go up and draw out all the routes in that play in under a minute. If they get it right then they get a point, and if they get it wrong then we can challenge it. If we challenge it, then someone from our team will draw up the play, and if we get it right then we get the point."

"You have to go up and draw up every route by every receiver and every route by the running backs," said Hafoka. "It really helps you out because you know where they're supposed to be and where the defense might be because you know where they're going. So it can also help you to find the little holes in the defense too, but that's what we do with this little competition we have in our meeting. You have to draw up the exact formations and show what the tight ends do, and, well, of course I'm on the winning team, which is B.J.'s team."

The objective of the whole exercise seems to be working.

"It's a lot of fun because it's better than just the typical way of studying or learning plays within the offense," Hoffman said. "This way you're learning the plays, you're learning the other positions and how they fit in the offense, while at the same time it's competitive. This way you learn everything and it's fun while you're learning."

So has Hoffman, a redshirt freshman, been 100 percent correct when called out by Ashworth's team?

"No, I haven't been right 100 percent of the time," said Hoffman with a smile. "I know all the outside receiver positions and stuff but I always mess up on the running back plays."

What about Hafoka? Has he made any mistakes when challenged by Ashworth's team?

"Well, I have not," said a smiling Hafoka, "I've not messed up once when I was called out. I do think this is a good opportunity to learn, especially when you're on the winning team. If you go ask someone if it's fun or not, you might not want to ask someone on the losing team. They might not want to be interviewed."

"Spencer has done really well and we're the more experienced group," Hoffman said. "We haven't lost any starters from the receiver position last year, so we all know the offense pretty good and stuff. A lot of our talent is on the outside receiver positions, so we're just trying to incorporate more guys from the outside on the inside."

The molding of individuals as versatile players within any receiving position might be a bit of a challenge, but once the kinks are all ironed out, the benefits will undoubtedly be worth it.

"It's more important for us to know as receivers what everybody else is doing, especially this year," Peterson said. "The reason is we're trying to fit in those zones, and, depending on what the defense is doing and what those linebackers are doing, this year defenses are going to be looking at us and seeing that we might be doing things differently. It also is a tool to help us know where we need to be when a running back is doing this route or another receiver is doing that route.

"It's also just another way for us to know how to get open on top of everything else. Down the road one of us might be fitting in at the inside position if we have a different formation. One of us might be flipped on the other side of the field and he can just stay there and play that position. It's also a great thing too because if someone gets hurt, another receiver can just fit right in without missing a beat. I think with the kind of players we have on this team, we have the ability to do that."

Ashworth agrees with his rival captain.

"I think our big thing is to keep defenses on their toes," Ashworth said. "If we can get a receiver on a safety or a linebacker and execute those little matchup issues, then I think we'll do well, but we have to be able to execute it and if we can do that then it makes it easier for us and harder for defenses."


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