Provo • Brandon Doman says he doesn’t spend a lot of time wondering what might have been, but BYU’s second-year offensive coordinator realizes as well as anyone that this could have been a special football season for the Cougars if the offense — his offense — had been just a little bit better.
“Collectively, as an offense, we have under-performed this year,” Doman said last week. “I understand that.”
As 6-4 BYU prepares for its last meaningful regular-season game — Saturday’s 8:30 p.m. MST showdown with 8-2 San Jose State — the notion persists around Provo that the 2012 team wasted a once-in-a-decade defense in its never-ending quest to make a national splash, perhaps busting into a BCS bowl game. Led by seniors Uona Kaveinga, Brandon Ogletree, Romney Fuga, Ezekiel Ansah and Preston Hadley and juniors Kyle Van Noy, Spencer Hadley and Daniel Sorensen, BYU ranks in the top 10 nationally in every significant defensive category,
“Well, it has been hard,” Doman said, placing the blame on himself. “I think any normal team would splinter and break up and not be unified during these hard times. And the defense has had every reason in the world to be mad at us offensively, and I am sure they have had all those emotions.
“But the players have hung in there,” he continued. “Those seniors on the other side of the ball — Ogletree and Uona and Romney and those guys — have hung in there with [quarterback] Riley [Nelson] and our seniors. To their credit, they should be commended for not splintering.”
To his credit, Doman should be commended for not using excuses — and he has had many, starting with Nelson’s back injury suffered in the second game against Weber State and Nelson’s refusal until lately to let on just how badly he was hurt. Six offensive linemen who were expected to contribute have been lost for the season or a large chunk of it, primary running back Mike Alisa suffered a fractured arm against Hawaii, and freshman quarterback Taysom Hill suffered a season-ending knee injury on a needless running play in the waning moments against Utah State.
“I am going to point the finger at me. People keep wondering why in the world I keep pointing the blame at myself all the time. But that’s what I believe in and I am the leader, and the designer of the plan, and if the result isn’t good, then it is what it is,” Doman said.
“So that part has been difficult, because it hasn’t gone the way we’ve all wanted it to go this year. But I can’t do anything about yesterday. There’s nothing I can do about it, other than learn from it. And I think we’ve learned, and I think I’ve learned.”
Aside from the second half against Notre Dame when it was shut out, the offense has shown improvement from the Oregon State game on, coinciding with Nelson’s back issues going away. It seemingly found its rhythm by piling up 411 yards in the 41-17 win over Georgia Tech. Granted, the Yellow Jackets’ defense is a middling 68th in the country.
“The product that is on the field right now is far better than it was,” Doman said. “And I feel bad about that. I wish it would have been better [against Utah, Boise State and Utah State]. But it is better now and hopefully that will build in the future.”
Although BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe rattled a few cages two weeks ago when he said offensive changes were coming to the program and that there were disconnects on the coaching staff, coach Bronco Mendenhall has continued to speak positively about Doman’s progress and the offense’s improvement, while acknowledging the lesser quality of opponents has contributed to the newfound success.
Doman might be the busiest man in Utah with five young children and his calling as an LDS Church bishop taking up all of his non-football time. He admitted Tuesday the task is monumental, joking that it is hard to find time to shave.
“I will be honest, I have a phenomenal wife [Alisha], and a bunch of little kids at home that are great. I haven’t lost perspective. Well, I shouldn’t say I haven’t lost it at all — I’ve lost a little bit at times,” he said. “It is tough in this environment, coaching at this level. The expectations are high and there’s really no room for excuses.”
Where BYU’s offense ranks
Category Nat’l ranking Actual
Total offense 67th 396.70
Passing offense 69th 225.10
Rushing offense 51st 171.60
Scoring offense 63rd 28.6 ppg.
Passing efficiency 88th 122.83
Third-down percentage 31st 45.28 pct.