Anae: Entire BYU offense should share the blame
Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune
Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill (4) scrambles with Utah Utes linebacker Jacoby Hale (40) in pursuit in the fourth quarter as the BYU Cougars host the Utah Utes, college football Saturday, September 21, 2013 at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.
A lot has been written and said the past few days about how poorly BYU quarterback Taysom Hill played in the rivalry game, a 20-13 loss to Utah. Hill completed 18 of 48 passes for a career-high 260 yards and no touchdowns. He did throw one interception, but that was a desperation heave on 4th-and-13 when Utah defensive back Michael Walker really should have just knocked the ball down for better field position.
The Cougars' offensive struggles were the focus of my follow from Saturday's game, published Monday.
Some folks are already calling for a change, and want to see what Ammon Olsen can do. I think that would be a huge mistake; Robert Anae's offense, heavily favoring the zone read, is designed to take advantage of Hill's running ability, and the threat of Hill's running ability.
The sophomore just has to complete more passes, and that starts by doing better on first and second down, and not putting him in so many third-and-long situations.
He also needs better protection, which is the first thing Anae brought up in his opening comments to the media after the game. A quarterback's best friend is a solid running attack, and despite rushing for 183 yards against the Utes -- on a whopping 47 attempts -- Anae said it wasn't nearly enough.
"Obviously, our preparation wasn't good enough," Anae said. "Looking at the quickie stats, we lost the game because we weren't effective when we were running the football. Forty-seven rushes for a 183 yards, and then tack on the negative yardage [35 yards], and we are getting way too much volume with way little production in that area.
When we do throw it, I think we had 48 passes, [we are] clearly not hitting the mark with the pass protection game, either. I do believe these are signs. Extreme up and extreme down production, type deal. That's a sign of a young group. That's what we have. That is what we are working with. Our focus is to continue down the path that we are going, and we got beat tonight in the trenches. That's something where we got to simply get better. Credit goes to Utah. They were better than we were there. That's not to blame any one group or any one person, this side or the other. It was an offensive effort, and their defense beat us."
Anae said a "positive sign" from the game was that the Cougars committed just one turnover, that fourth-down pick.
"I do believe we have grown in that area," he said.
As for how Hill played, Anae wasn't as positive as coach Bronco Mendenhall was (see his quote in the aforementioned article), but clearly isn't ready to give up on Hill.
"You know, Taysom is a sophomore quarterback. We expect to win games and we expect to do all the things the team puts out on the field on Saturday. We fell short today. But I am very encouraged about his work ethic, how he plays in the course of a game," Anae said. "He's very good to work with, adjustment-wise. I just wish we were sharper, obviously. We all do. … Right at the end, we had several chances. I commend our defense and our special teams for playing their butts off. We are just not ready at this point to close out a tough opponent when we really need to drive the field and get it in."
Someone in the post game interview room asked Anae about the usefulness of the shotgun formation when near the goal line.
"The problem was not as much short yardage, the problem on the third-down conversion was that I think we were only 5 of 21. And 1 of 4 on fourth [down] That's clearly evidence that you are not getting much on first and second down. Right now, that's where we are and like I said, we've got to coach 'em and play our way out of that stage of the offense."
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