Provo • BYU’s new offense is slowly taking shape after nine spring camp practices and a couple of live scrimmages, which begrudgingly were played indoors due to inclement weather. Coordinator Jeff Grimes said he has installed about 80 percent of his offense, give or take a few percentage points in either direction.
Other than a few general descriptions like multiple, versatile and balanced, Grimes and his staff have remained fairly tight-lipped about releasing details on the attack they started drawing up shortly after Grimes arrived in Provo in early January.
The thing doesn’t even have a name yet.
“Still working on that,” Grimes said last week.
Media members were allowed to watch the last half hour or so of Friday’s live scrimmage, and the offense didn’t look much different than it did the last two seasons under Ty Detmer, with the obvious exception that coaches are letting defensive players hit and tackle the quarterbacks.
The scrimmage even featured a roughing-the-passer penalty.
“It is the only way you can find out what a guy has, both as a runner and what he is made of in terms of timing and getting rid of the ball and being willing to stand in and take a hit and throw it, rather than ducking and scrambling out,” Grimes said.
That’s a pretty good clue that the offense will be quarterback-dependent and rely on a young man “who is a leader, a competitor and the clearcut general on the field,” Grimes has said.
Grimes and company obviously want the offense to remain a mystery as long as possible to give Arizona coaches a lot to think about and research before the opener Sept. 1 in Tucson.
“There will be a lot of guesswork, I hope, in terms of trying to figure out where it comes from because really some of it comes from my time at LSU, some of it comes from all the way back to my time at Boise State in 2000, and different pieces along the way,” said Grimes, who never before has been an offensive coordinator. “And some of it doesn’t even come from me. Some of it comes from the rest of our staff. So it is a conglomeration of a lot of different ideas.”
With five of six installation segments in place, the Cougars in the media viewing portions of practice have shown shotgun formations, the quarterback under center, empty backfields, double tight ends, two-back sets and quite a bit of motion.
“It’s pretty complicated,” quarterback Beau Hoge said after the first week of camp. “It is going to give defenses a lot to scheme for.”
It was heavy on the run game and short dumpoffs to the running backs Friday, and Grimes, the former offensive line coach, repeated that he considers a team’s offensive line “the tip of the spear” in establishing a physical attack. Long passes were the order of the day last week
“If you look at most offenses, with some exceptions, most offenses that are really successful nowadays are balanced,” Grimes said. “We will be balanced in a number of ways. We will be balanced between run and pass. That doesn’t mean every game we are going to be 50-50. Some games we will run it a little more, some games we will throw it a little bit more. We will take advantage of what the defense gives us and we will take advantage of what we feel like are mismatches for us.”
Said quarterback Joe Critchlow, who ran Detmer’s offense the final three games of 2017: “There are similarities, and there are differences as well. … A key to the new offense is the coaches emphasize that the quarterback is leading the show.”
Receiver Micah Simon said there already has been plenty to absorb and predicts the ball will be spread around a lot.
“We will also try to be really balanced in terms of ball distribution,” Grimes said. “If it is third-and-8, I don’t want the defense to know we are going to this particular guy. I want them to feel like they have to defense every guy on the field who has an eligible number.”
JEFF GRIMES’ PREVIOUS STOPS
1995 • Graduate assistant coach, Rice
1998-99 • Offensive line coach, Hardin-Simmons
2000 • Offensive line coach, Boise State
2001-03 • Offensive line coach, Arizona State
2004-06 • Offensive line coach, BYU
2007-08 • Offensive line coach, Colorado
2009-12 • Offensive line coach, Auburn
2013 • Offensive line coach, Virginia Tech
2014-17 • Offensive line coach, LSU