BYU football: While defense adjusts, offense shows signs of steady progress
Provo • The storylines at BYU's preseason football camp the past week revolved around the defense and how banged up the secondary is two weeks before the Cougars travel to Charlottesville to take on Virginia on Aug. 31 at Scott Stadium (1:30 p.m. MT, ESPNU).
Meanwhile, new offensive coordinator Robert Anae's up-tempo offense, which was pretty much the focus in Week 1 of camp, continues to roll along and improve, according to quarterback Taysom Hill, receivers Cody Hoffman and Ross Apo and receivers coach Guy Holliday.
Anae's "go hard, go fast" attack got a workout Saturday in the Cougars' second and most likely final scrimmage of 2013 camp at LaVell Edwards Stadium, but media members were not allowed to watch any of the proceedings or talk to coaches and players about it afterward.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall said Friday that the plan was to use few, if any, star players and focus much of the live work on special teams, especially place-kicking and punting.
As for the offense, "I think everything is falling into place. We are ready to go," Hoffman said Friday. "I think if it was needed, we could play tomorrow. So we are just going to continue to get better and focus on the little things."
Anae, however, has not been made available to talk to reporters since after the short scrimmage at LES on Aug. 10, when he gave the offense's progress a mixed review and compared it to running a marathon.
Mendenhall said from his perspective coaching the defense to stop the offense in camp, Anae's troops are progressing nicely.
"The offense in general is really difficult to defend," Mendenhall said. "There are elements of option football. There are elements of BYU's old passing attack, and there is stuff in between. ... So I think it is very effective, at least with us trying to defend it."
Hill said the offense had a good week but still has a way to go to please Anae. It is making a lot of big plays and moving the ball consistently in 11-on-11 drills, but it has had trouble scoring touchdowns, he said.
"Our receivers are playing extremely well right now, and I have been able to get them the ball," Hill said. "Going through reads and all those things, we have been pitching and catching the ball really well. I would say right now our ability on the outside to execute and play fast and execute at a really high level" is the offense's strength.
Hill said new plays "are constantly being installed," and Anae is adding new wrinkles daily, all while encouraging the offense to get off a play every 15 seconds or so.
"But as far as the base of our offense, it is all the same," Hill said. "It is one of our strengths that we know it so well because then we are able to match the execution with how fast we are going. It has been a lot of fun."
New offensive line coach Garett Tujague certainly doesn't want to play today. He said Friday he's not close to naming five starters and probably won't be until a day or two before the opener. His hope is to keep all 15 linemen in camp motivated.
"Every single one of those guys has got to know that they could be playing [in the opener]," he said. "We don't want anybody feeling comfortable."
As for the receivers, Holliday said naming starters is pointless because between four and six guys will play a lot.
What we learned • The Cougars scrimmaged at LaVell Edwards Stadium, but the event was not open to the general public or media.
Up next • Preseason camp is expected to end in the middle of the week, perhaps on Wednesday. Preparations for the opener at Virginia on Aug. 31 begin the next day.
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