Over this past spring camp, there was a building up of sorts by Coach Doman for his offensive identity. The first part was more grit and physical play, which was seen in the many scuffles over the first week and a half.
Then there was the simplification of the offense, coupled with massive amounts of repetition. The final installment was a fast tempo.
“I think you kind of noticed it at the end of spring practice,” said tight end Austin Holt. “We kind of put that last part in where we ran more of a hurry-up tempo. I don’t think we’re going to copy exactly what Oregon does because we have different athletes and a different offensive philosophy. Everything we focused on the last week was to prepare us for some situations in the fall where we’ll be able to get into that more.”
“In the past, BYU’s offense had produced a lot of points,” said wide receiver Cody Hoffman. “We’ve been looking at teams that produce a lot of points like Oregon, and so we’ve been doing things within our offense to help bring back some of that.”
In the past, BYU was never considered a hurry-up, no-huddle offensive team. The west coast offense was based more on execution within a passing scheme, where almost every position was a threat to receive the ball.
“We don’t have a guy on the staff that was trained in the no-huddle offense,” said quarterback Riley Nelson. “With Coach Doman being the offensive coordinator, who is a west coast offense guy, his experience at BYU and in the NFL was a west coast offense. That’s a huddle-up, route schemes, play-action and pass and stuff like that.”
However, during spring camp the offense began to consistently run a no-huddle offense, and did so very effectively. Oregon Duck wide receiver coach Scott Frost, a good friend of Doman’s, actually paid a visit to BYU and shared some ideas.
“[Frost] met with the coaches, and so we’re going to incorporate some of the stuff that Oregon does with their offense,” said Hoffman. “He mostly just worked with the offensive coaches for the most part. It was specifically for the offensive coaches.”
“We’re pushing a lot of tempo inside the execution aspect of our offense,” said Coach Doman. “I want to increase the pace in which we move our offense, and you can see it with how we do things.”
What Coach Doman is now doing is taking that added knowledge of the hurry-up, no-huddle offense and tweaking it to fit an already proven and highly potent BYU offense.
“We’ve taken some of [Frost’s] ideas and twisted them to fit BYU and how we do things,” said Nelson. “We’ve kind of modified those things to fit our philosophy. [Oregon’s] been a really good team over the past five or six years, and so we’re not going to take exactly what they are – because we don’t do exactly what they do and have our own offensive philosophy – but we’re going to pattern it more towards who we are.”
“We’re going to continue to run our offense faster and faster,” Hoffman said. “When we first started doing this the last part of spring, we did a pretty good job of it. I think the more and more we did it, the better we got, and so we’ll just keep doing that so we get better at it.
“I think there will come a time when we run our offense really fast and be really sharp at what we do. We always did a two-minute huddle, but I think now we’ll be even faster. We’re going to get to a point where we can put up points on teams in a hurry.”
Cougar fans shouldn’t expect to see a copy of Oregon’s offense at LaVell Edwards Stadium anytime soon.
“We’re not Oregon and we’re not going to try and be Oregon. We don’t really want to be Oregon,” Nelson said. “We are BYU and we’re going to do what we do. Now, with that being said, Oregon is an effective offense, and if we can incorporate some of those things into our already strong foundation and strong scheme, then why not?”
The visit by the Duck coach was an attempt by Coach Doman to simply modify and incorporate proven aspects outside the program into the established BYU offense.
“Well, it’s like what Joseph Smith taught us a long time ago, and that is we accept truth from any fountain and will embrace truth from any source,” said Nelson. “That same logic can be applied to football and our offense, and Coach Doman has taken that gospel truth that we believe in and is going to apply it to our offense. I think it’s just another thing he wants to do to make our offense more of what he envisions it to be.”
As a wide receiver coach, Coach Frost sat in with the BYU wide receivers during a meeting to give them tips on how they can better play within this type of offense.
“He kind of told us what we needed to do with some of those tips,” said Hoffman. “I feel like it will help us run our offense faster and I like it. It’s hard and tiring but I like it. We’ll have four months to get ourselves up to the level where we’ll be in shape enough to run that type of offense consistently. I think then by fall camp we’ll be ready to go.”
“He just shared some basic ideas and concepts with them on what they try and do, things to help them become more efficient within that system,” said Nelson. “If nothing else, it will only help us with our two-minute offense or run it as a change-of-pace offense. Along with everything else that we are now doing, I think it will be just another tweak in our offense to really put defenses on their heels.”
“You know, in the second quarter, or two minutes before the halftime, we’ll be able to hop into this type of offense,” said Holt. “That will make it really tough for any defense to adjust to what we’re doing.”
But one doesn’t simply dedicate about a third of spring camp to something that might be used as a two-minute offense at the end of a half. This new tweak within the Cougar offense is much more than just an added tool if needed.
“I want these guys to dominate in every way possible,” said Coach Doman. “I want these guys to feel like they can conquer anything that stands in front of them, so we have to not only develop them as players but constantly put in place ways for them to feel unconquerable and go out and accomplish those things we want to do. That’s what we’re going to do and a lot of spring camp was based on achieving that.”