"Last year we weren't as much a part of the offense as we wanted to be," said Marcus Mathews, who hauled in back-to-back catches. "We didn't get that many passes thrown to us, and that's nobody's fault, that's just how it went."
BYU fans caught a glimpse on Saturday of how much the tight end position has indeed improved from last year. With further room to grow, and with four to choose from, no two have fully immerged as the top targets, but what did immerge was the production.
"We wanted to come out here and make our presence known," Mathews said. "The good thing is that's how it went. I had two catches, Richard [Wilson] had one and Austin [Holt] had a nice one. So, what we saw [Saturday] was more tight end involvement and production, and that's good. Any time you get more production out of the tight ends, especially when you look at how things went last year, that's a good thing."
With tall, fast receivers on the outside, quarterback Jake Heaps should have a breakout season this year behind a mammoth offensive line. To keep defenses honest, the tight end position – along with the H-position – can keep defenses from focusing too much on the outside and on the running backs.
"One reason why it's good is because it forces the defense to cover every position on the field," Mathews said about improvement among the tight ends. "We have to step it up so defenses have to cover the tight end position. You're seeing more production from the flexed position and from the Y-receivers. This will keep defenses from focusing on the outside or on our running backs. It opens things up a more and spreads the defense's focus around."
Once the Cougar offense can polish up on the mental side of the game, the team will be very good. BYU fans saw just how good this offense can be when it's not holding itself back.
"We did really well overall," Mathews said. "When we did our assignment, we couldn't be stopped. Our biggest problem [Saturday] wasn't the fact that the defense was stopping us, it was our mental mistakes that held us back. It wasn't as though we couldn't make our blocks, or that we couldn't get open, but alignment issues, false starts and things like that. Once we clean that up, we're going to really good."
The uncharacteristic mental mistakes out there on Saturday may have come from the fact that the offense is still getting the hang of some new things.
"We put in a lot of stuff this week, a lot of stuff," Mathews said. "I mean, when I say we put in a lot of stuff, we really put in a lot of stuff. Like, we put in stuff this week that wasn't in our offense last year or during spring camp.
"I mean, tons of stuff, and it's just still new to us. So, a lot of the mental issues that we had is because we're thinking more about what to do [rather] than letting it come natural. A lot of this new stuff we just learned two days ago, and I don't want to make any excuses – because there are no excuses for false starts – but I would say that with all this new stuff, I think it did cause us to have some of those mental mistakes. It's just all still new. Once all this new stuff becomes second nature to us, we're going to be unstoppable. It'll come. It'll come."