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(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young Cougars running back Jamaal Williams (21) runs the ball in the second quarter as the BYU Cougars host the Utah Utes, college football Saturday, September 21, 2013 at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.
BYU football: New offense is a marathon, as in run, run, run

Cougs eschew passing tradition, rank fourth nationally in rushing.

First Published Oct 02 2013 05:12 pm • Last Updated Oct 03 2013 11:11 am

Provo • Little did anyone realize back in preseason camp that when BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae compared the installation of his new offense to a marathon that the Cougars would literally try to win football games with their feet, rather than their arms.

But that’s how the "go hard, go fast" attack has played out so far, with the Cougars (2-2) ranking fourth nationally in rushing offense at 307.3 yards per game and 103rd in passing offense at 185.3 per game.

At a glance

BYU offense’s national ranks

Category Stat Rank

Total 492.5 21st

Rushing 307.3 4th

Passing 185.3 103rd

Scoring 26.5 81st

Third-down % 37.2 84th

Red zone % .789 85th

­—

BYU at Utah State

O Friday, 6 p.m.

TV » CBS Sports

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Amazingly, BYU went the entire month of September (three games) without throwing a touchdown pass. The Cougars’ lone TD pass of 2013 was their first touchdown of the season, a 4-yarder from Taysom Hill to JD Falslev.

Obviously, this is not your grandfather’s BYU offense, or your father’s, or even your older brother’s. Somewhere, LaVell Edwards and Ty Detmer have scowls on their faces.

This new way of moving the football for BYU will be on display Friday night, and be tested mightily, against a Utah State defense that ranks 38th against the run in the nation, allowing just 126.6 yards per game. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. at Romney Stadium, and the game will be televised by the CBS Sports Network.

"We are at least a couple miles down the marathon lane," Anae said Tuesday. "And you know, I do see progress. I am very optimistic about our future development. I look forward to the offense getting better as the season unravels."

Anae said it is too early to say BYU’s offensive identity this year is its running game, led by quarterback Taysom Hill, who is tied for fifth in the country in rushing yards per game, 141.3. Sophomore running back Jamaal Williams is 13th nationally, at 126.0 ypg.

"Right now, it is more about us than the playbook," Anae said. "In other words, what the players do best … is what we are trying to focus on. Those kinds of things we are still discovering about ourselves. And I do believe every game we get closer to that revelation of who we are."

The Aggies are 22nd in the nation in total defense, one spot ahead of BYU. The Cougars weren’t able to ram the ball down Utah’s throat in that 20-13 loss two weeks ago, and don’t figure to be able to do that against USU.

Seemingly, Anae will have to open the playbook a bit more, but Hill said that won’t necessarily be the case.


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"Everything that we have installed through fall camp, we have ran," Hill said. "We have had all that at our disposal. I don’t know what else [Anae] has in the back of his mind, so right now I would say 100 percent [of the playbook has been used]. But I don’t know what else he has in store."

This week, Hill will have his two biggest weapons at his disposal — Williams and receiver Cody Hoffman. But the sophomore still plans to do some damage with his legs.

"I didn’t know what would come about with this new offensive scheme," he said regarding his eye-popping rushing totals. "Again, I am willing to do anything I can to help the team win. Up to this point of the season, that’s been a big part of it. So I am happy with the way that it has turned out. We will just continue to plug along. If that’s what it is going to take to win, that’s what we are going to do."

drew@sltrib.com

Twitter: @drewjay



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