The working title for new BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae's offense looks like it will be the "go hard, go fast" offense, but certainly readers of this blog can come up with something a little more catchy, a little easier to put in a headline. Use the comment section below for your ideas, or send me an email. Perhaps we can get something to stick.
Anae promised an uptempo, fast-paced attack when he spoke at the football signing day last month, and he pretty much delivered the first day of camp on Monday. The Cougars aren't practicing today, but will be back at it on Wednesday.
Although it was the first day of camp, Cougar coaches were already wearing headsets during the "team" sessions and were using these big cards on the sidelines to signal in plays -- kind of like Oregon does, if you've watched the Ducks play on TV (and who hasn't?).
Somebody asked Anae if BYU will use the big cards once the season starts.
"Sure, tell [our] opponents we are going to use cards," he joked.
All eyes were on the new offense, and the quarterback situation at practice yesterday. Tribune columnist Kurt Kragthorpe tackled the offensive approach, and how it will affect coach Bronco Mendenhall's legacy, in this column, and I surveyed the quarterbacking situation in this story, noting that, despite what everybody is saying, it sure looks like Taysom Hill's job to lose.
"Yeah, for sure," Hill said when he was asked if he's looking at the so-called wide-open QB battle as a challenge. "All of us didn't get here to a Division I university without competition, and that's where we thrive. We are all used to it. We have all competed for jobs before. I am looking forward to it. It is going to be fun, and that is football. We have the opportunity to go and compete against each other and win the job."
Hill's first impression of Anae's new offense:
"It has been great: fast-paced, quick. It is not quite as complicated as we are used to, so that is going to allow us to play quick and fast, and it was fun today," he said. "We had the defense on their toes a couple of drives, and everything was coming in fast, and a couple more practices, as we get used to it and more comfortable with it, it is going to be tough to stop... It is a different offense. Coach Anae is run and gun, and we run a play and we want to get back on the line of scrimmage and run another one. And so when we are running that offense, they are coaching a different way, and it was great today."
Somebody asked Hill if coaches have already installed the entire playbook after one day of spring camp. Seriously, someone really asked that.
"I highly doubt that," Hill said, an incredulous look on his face. "It is pretty basic right now. It will probably stay that way through spring, before we really start to open it up."
Accompanying my article on the quarterback situation was a list of the six QBs in camp. Perhaps the biggest surprise -- I hadn't seen it published anywhere before camp -- was that former Timpanogos High quarterback Christian Stewart was in camp, battling for a spot like all the others. Stewart walked on at BYU several years ago, then went on a church mission. He played the last two years at Snow College.
Hill's take on the other QBs:
"Yeah, all the quarterbacks, we all get along really well. Jason Munns has been here for several years and is going into his senior year, so he is kind of the veteran. And he's been a great source to rely on, and things. It has been nice, because we have all started equal, so we are all learning the offense and I am sure it is nice for guys like Billy Green and Tanner Mangum to learn the offense now, this year. They have the opportunity to come in and learn it, just as the guys who were here in the past. Ammon Olsen is doing well. He played at SUU, and there's some talent there. Christian Stewart is a JC transfer who just got here.
These guys are all here because they are good. We've got some good guys."
I took over the BYU beat in Max Hall's first year starting (2008), so I wasn't acquainted with Jason Beck, the former BYU backup quarterback to John Beck who is now the school's new quarterbacks coach.
Here are a few of Jason Beck's comments after Monday's practice:
On the quarterbacks at camp:
"Very sharp and hard-working. They love BYU. They love football and they want to play. They are working their tails off to earn the right to be the quarterback here at BYU."
On the importance of finding a backup as well as a starter:
"You hope you have one guy that plays well, and is healthy, and he starts every game for you. That's what you want. But the other guys just have to keep battling, and know that when an opportunity comes, that they need to be ready to make the most of it."
On what fans can expect from a Robert Anae offense:
"You know, coach Anae is going to do some of the things that he did before here, some of the traditional BYU pass game stuff. But he has brought some new wrinkles from the other stints he has had.
So it is going to be a little different. It is going to be some of the old BYU under him, but also some new stuff. So it is going to be a lot of fun."
On how Taysom Hill looked and what percentage he's at:
"You know, he feels really good. The trainers are telling him to stay about 80, 85 percent, especially when he is running, just so he doesn't go all out and threaten anything that way. But he says he feels really good.
And he looks good. I mean, there is nothing too noticeable. It is just a matter of not letting him reach that top end when he is running with the football."
On whether it is too early rank a pecking order:
"It is too early. We are just letting them go from scratch. We went kind of off seniority. So Taysom has played, so he got the first reps. Then Munns is the next most experienced guy, so he got the second reps. Then we just went from there. We will let them play out these first five, six practices, just let them compete, and then slowly start giving guys more reps, based on performance, and let them settle in that way, then let things emerge as they go."
On whether there is more on QB's plate in this new offense:
"A little bit, but it is even more because of the tempo that we are trying to go at. Instead of having 40 seconds to get a play in and execute it, we are trying to get them to do it in 15 to 20 seconds. So it is processing all that information as fast as they can go, pushing that tempo. So that is the biggest strain that they are going to have is just processing information and moving at a fast pace."
On what it is like as a new coach with a half-new staff:
"It is a lot of fun because everybody is just eager and working hard and doing everything they can to make this team be successful. It is nice for the players because they get a clean slate. You don't feel like any judgements have been made on them, because everybody is new. So it is a lot of fun for everybody to just start from square one, and go as hard as they can go, and just compete."