Did you ever think you would see the day when BYU would have more rushing yards -- 1,389 -- than passing yards -- 1,019 -- as it neared the halfway point of a football season?
I tackled that issue with this article -- "What happened to Quarterback U?" -- in today’s Tribune. I had an informative telephone conversation with former Cougar QB John Beck while working on the article, and Beck had some good things to say about current QB Taysom Hill, so I put some of those comments in this notebook that wasn’t published in the paper, but can be found online.
After reading the Quarterback U. article, BYU fan Denton Goodman made a good point, which he passed along in an email: Just because an offense runs the zone-read, that doesn’t mean it has to be a running team. Goodman alludes to teams such as Arizona State that use the zone read, but passes the football out of it more than it runs it.
BYU could theoretically do the same thing, but so far the Cougars have rushed 277 times and passed 166 times. By comparison, BYU rushed 505 times last year and passed 498 times.
As Goodman points out, BYU is leaning toward running over passing due to Hill’s running ability.
As is usually the case, I collected far more interesting comments than I could possibly include in one article. Here are a bunch more on the topic from Robert Anae, Taysom Hill, quarterbacks coach Jason Beck and freshman quarterback Billy Green.
Anae on whether they are out recruiting prep QBs who can run the zone-read offense, or who are prototypical BYU drop back passers:
"When you recruit players, you recruit the best players that fit your campus, that fit your school. And we have a certain criteria with academics, there’s a certain criteria with off-the-field behavior. Certain guys are drawn to this environment, and certain guys are not. So the ones that are drawn, our job as coaches is to evaluate, recruit the best players we can, and put them in the best position to succeed. Is that a one-sided approach? Boy, I hope not. My background and experience has been with assorted types of offenses. That’s our job as a coaching staff, is to find the best players and do the best things, and to start with that, I don’t mean that is all they will do, the whole time they are at the school. But their sophomore year, since we are talking about Taysom, that’s our starting point with them."
Hill on when he was deciding on a school and how much the offense the school ran was a factor:
"Considering the offense was definitely one of my considerations, but I think more than that it was the coaches at that school, and I think the signs of a good coach is if he can take his offense and build it around the talent that he has, so I think that is something that coach Anae has done really well. I obviously signed to play for coach [Jim] Harbaugh out of high school, and I feel like that is something he does well as well."
Hill on the zone-read offense and how it is new to BYU and whether he would have chosen it as the offense he wanted to run:
"Yeah, I think so. I did that in high school, so I was really comfortable with it as far as [inaudible] at the line of scrimmage, getting those reads, and if it needs be, pulling it and running. I was really successful doing those things in high school. So this is really familiar to me and it has been fun to run."
Hill on whether BYU will have trouble finding more guys like Taysom Hill who are athletic and versatile and can run the zone-read option attack:
"Honestly, I don’t know. Yeah, it is definitely as you look back through the years, the typical BYU quarterback doesn’t fit that mold. But looking around and seeing high school football, I feel like the zone-read passing scheme and offense has trickled down to the high school level, and I think there are many people doing it. So it is all about recruiting to what is going to help you be successful. I know our coaches have talked to me and asked me how fast I am and those thing so they can have something to compare it to in the future. I think they should be able to find it just fine."
Jason Beck on whether the zone-read is here to stay at BYU, or whether it will come and go depending on the quarterback:
"Yeah, we are looking to recruit those type of guys, Taysom Hill-type of guys, the types of guys who can both run with it and throw it, like we are doing now. That’s the scheme and system we want to do. Obviously, if we get a talented guy that has a different skill set, we can adapt it and run that style."
Jason Beck on whether the other QBs in system could run the zone-read option offense like Taysom does:
"We would have to adapt it a little bit. It just varies for each guy. But certain guys, you would have to adjust it to make it more distributing the ball, versus the options of running it and keeping it yourself."
Jason Beck on whether they are worried they will miss out on next great drop back passer because he’s turned off by the offense:
"No, not really. The guys we are recruiting are the guys who are dying to be here, and want to come regardless. Then we are obviously looking for more of that dual threat guy, guys who can run it and throw it, and focusing that way.
Right now, we are a little young at the position. We have guys out on missions, so we are not in a big need to take a guy now. But we are recruiting hard and keeping it open for our different options."
Jason Beck on whether they have a commitment from a Class of 2014 QB:
"No, and not really looking for one. With a couple guys on missions, and a couple guys being sophomores and younger guys, at this point we are not planning on taking a quarterback. But we will see how it goes."
Jason Beck on whether the Taysom Hill-type QBs are hard to find:
"You know, it is becoming pretty common. As you look in the high school ranks, there are a lot of teams that are running that zone read. So it is pretty easy to find guys that do both and do that type of thing.
The interesting thing is going to be guys that fit in here. They have to be ideal guys to represent this university. So with the BYU fit, and what we are trying to do, we will see how that goes."
Jason Beck on whether he would still have come here if they were running the zone-read back then:
"Yeah, absolutely. I would have been a better fit in this kind of system, with being able to do all these types of things. It would have been a good system for me. I wish I would have been able to play in it."
Jason Beck on what they ran when he was here:
‘More of a pro-style offense. To me, the nice part is the quarterback has more involvement in the run game. When I was here before, it was just hand it off or just throw it. Now, we are still doing the passing stuff, but you are more involved in the run game, which to me is more interesting, more exciting."
Jason Beck on whether you need a better athlete to run the zone-read:
‘Yeah, and someone who can make smart decisions and that. If Ammon Olsen or Christian Stewart were to play, we would do a lot of similar stuff, but we wouldn’t necessarily run it as much."
Billy Green on whether he’s noticed this isn’t the BYU offense he committed to:
"Yeah, I mean you see all the old film of Steve Young and Ty Detmer and all those guys, and it was considered Quarterback U. back then. But I think it still should be considered Quarterback U. I mean, obviously the offense has kind of evolved a little bit. It is maybe not the same, but I still think, look at Taysom, he is putting up big numbers, we are winning games.
So I don’t see any reason that we would not be called Quarterback U. anymore."
Green on whether he could run the zone read:
"Yeah, I definitely feel I could run this offense. Maybe not as much running as Taysom, but coach Mendenhall has said the offense will evolve to what quarterback we have. So if my strengths are throwing, we are maybe going to throw the ball more.
But right now I feel like I could run the offense and be successful."
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